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U.S. CULTURE NOTE
· Boys and girls are sometimes taught different things about expressing sadness. Some American parents let their little girls cry, but feel uncomfortable when their sons cry. These parents may say, "Don't cry, be a man!" This explains, in part, why men and women don't always express sadness in the same way. This is an example of how culture is learned, that is, how children learn to express emotions from those around them.
· The "U.S." smile is famous. Many people around the world refer to former U.S. president Jimmy Carter's smile. Americans are famous for saying "cheese" when they are being photographed. Americans notice right away when people don't smile in the same situations as those in which they smile. American businessmen think Japanese businessmen too serious in photos because they usually don't smile. Many Americans think Russians don't smile enough or smile at the "wrong" time. Of course there is no "right" or "wrong" time to smile. People's cultural backgrounds often influence when and how often they smile.
· Americans often ask each other, "What's wrong?" if they see by a person's expression that something is bothering him or her. Many people think that you should say what is wrong instead of just acting upset or angry. If a person acts upset, angry, or bothered, but doesn't say anything about it, some Americans think that person is being childish.
· American culture is a very verbal culture. Misunderstanding can occur when someone from a different culture tries to communicate nonverbally (without words), and the American doesn't notice or understand the nonverbal communication. This can also happen between two Americans.
· There are Americans who prefer not to express their emotion verbally or nonverbally. They may try to hide their emotions completely. In a culture made up of so many different types of people, it is not always easy or possible to describe how people react emotionally. In the area of expressing emotions, there can be differences between people of different generations, between men and women and among Americans of different cultural backgrounds. Yet there is still a general belief that it is good to "talking things out" or "getting things off your chest" when there is a problem.
Phrases for Expressing Feelings
· Let me explain how I'm feeling.
· Let me explain how I feel.
· Let me tell you my reaction to that.
· It's not easy for me to say this, but I'm a bit upset about what happened.
· I will try to explain the way I'm feeling, but it's not easy to do.
· I am uncomfortable about what happened because….
· In my culture, we don't usually talk about this, but I'd like to let you know how I feel.
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