Someone told me I looked tired today. It happens a lot in Germany. It never used to happen in America. This could mean one of two things:
- I never looked tired in America.
- Germans are more honest than Americans.
I think it is the latter.
To be honest, I like the honesty. I think it is really good for working together. It’s efficient and to the point. I have a German friend that tells me things I really don’t want to hear all the time. Your hair looks funny, the last blog wasn’t that good, your cheesecake was bitter, etc.
But the rare times he gives me a compliment, I know it is genuine. I think this is better than every American thinking everything is great all the time. That was amazing! Can be heard at least 100 times a day in any office across America. Okay, maybe not 100 times. We Americans like to exaggerate.
But I like that Americans exaggerate. And that we sugarcoat certain things. I think it is good for keeping people motivated and keeping spirits high. Getting us through a challenging project or picking us up after a discouraging meeting. But telling someone they look tired? Telling someone they look tired in America is a cardinal sin. You might as well say, you look like somebody punched you in the face. Which I imagine, if I was punched in the face in Germany, this would be the exact question I would be asked the next day. Very direct indeed.
But maybe we could find a happy medium. Between the German honesty and, for lack of a better word, bluntness, and the American spirit and, for lack of a better word, superficiality. I think there is something to be said about both approaches. I would love to write more on this topic because I see the contrasts every day at work. But I am really tired and I better go get some sleep.