HOW NOT TO BE AN 'UGLY AMERICAN'
The US State Department is setting out a controversial program to try and patch up the damaged reputation of the United States in the rest of the world. And the first step will be the issuing of a set of guidelines to American business people travelling abroad. There are plans to issue the same, or similar, guidelines to American tourists as well.
The US State Department's advice, in short, is : Shut Up And Listen.
In a move that will sound alarm bells in the heads of the New World Order crowd, the US State Department is going to issue US employees heading overseas for work a 'World Citizen Guide'.
The aim is to "help improve America's battered international image".
Here's some of the 'tips' that are expected to go into the 'World Citizen Guide' :
• Think as big as you like but talk and act smaller. (In many countries, any form of boasting is considered very rude. Talking about wealth, power or status - corporate or personal - can create resentment.)
• Listen at least as much as you talk. (By all means, talk about America and your life in our country. But also ask people you're visiting about themselves and their way of life.)
• Save the lectures for your kids. (Whatever your subject of discussion, let it be a discussion not a lecture. Justified or not, the US is seen as imposing its will on the world.)
• Think a little locally. (Try to find a few topics that are important in the local popular culture. Remember, most people in the world have little or no interest in the World Series or the Super Bowl. What we call "soccer" is football everywhere else. And it's the most popular sport on the planet.)
• Speak lower and slower. (A loud voice is often perceived as bragging. A fast talker can be seen as aggressive and threatening.)
• Your religion is your religion and not necessarily theirs. (Religion is usually considered deeply personal, not a subject for public discussions.)
• If you talk politics, talk - don't argue. (Steer clear of arguments about American politics, even if someone is attacking US politicians or policies. Agree to disagree.)
Keith Reinhard, one of New York's top advertising executives, who heads BDA, said: "Surveys consistently show that Americans are viewed as arrogant, insensitive, over-materialistic and ignorant about local values. That, in short, is the image of the Ugly American abroad and we want to change it."
The National Tourism Agency for Britain has jumped in quick to point out that not all Britains hate Americans or think there is a need for change.
A spokesperson told the London Telegraph : "Americans have a certain reputation which, for the majority, is undeserved. These guidelines sound like good common sense but they're not something the majority of our American visitors need. As tourists, they're out to enjoy themselves and have a good time. We continue to welcome them."