Traveling almost every day I meet someone new. Here are some questions and topics everyone should stop asking and talking about.
#1 Where are you from?
I have stopped answering this question. No-one should ask this question. There are so many better questions. A question instead is “What country are you from?” This gives you enough info about the person. After I tell people I am from America people then ask “Where in America?”. I tell them Pennsylvania. They then have no idea where it is, have never been to the US, and only know of New York and California. Likewise, I do not know the regions in Germany, and I can’t name more two cities in Sweden. The exact location someone is from doesn’t matter unless you have lived in that country.
When we ask someone where they are formed and not now the location we are telling that their town is not important enough for us know it exists.
#2 Criticize other country’s culture or laws
The other week I was trying to explain where my town was in relation to Philly and New York City. The person asks how far is it. My response was in hours and miles. They then started criticizing America’s usage of the English measurement system. Look I get it. Metric is better, but there is nothing I can do to switch the US to the metric system. Criticizing the system isn’t going to solve anything.
This happens when we compare two different systems. This can be culture, government, or norms. Instead of criticizing how others do something point out the strengths in their ways and the weakness in yours. I find when you do this the other person will then follow, doing the same for yours. It is a better conversation overall when everyone is comfortable.
#3 Telling others what you think of their country
Some people after learning I am from America want to tell me what they think of President Trump. What should we do instead? A topic I am interested in is Germany accepting Syrian Refugees. When I ask the question, one I am sure they get asked a lot, I try to uncover what that person thinks. I am not putting my views forward I am trying to understand the issue from a German perspective. Leading with understanding first makes the conversation more interesting and you learn something new about the topic.
So what should we ask or talk about?
#1 What country are you from?
#2 Wow, I like the way your country does that, we do it differently
#3 Tell me more about this issue, I am interested in what you think.