Growing up, you were probably advised to behave in certain ways to help you get along with those around you. However, you might not have realized that some of the behavior you were taught is unique to the United States. Say or do some of these things anywhere else in the world, and it might come across as rude.
Calling the U.S. “America”
Rather than referring to the nation as the United States of America, people usually shorten it to the U.S. or America. Calling it the latter is fine when you do it here, but try it somewhere like South America, and you’ll probably upset a few people. After all, someone living in Brazil or Argentina is also American; they just live on a different continent to the United States. So, to label the U.S. as America is considered incredibly dismissive and rude.
Asking “how are you?”
Asking someone in a foreign country how they are isn’t inherently rude. However, expecting them to respond concisely and being annoyed when they don’t is. It’s relatively common in countries like Italy for a question like this to receive a very detailed response. People prefer to actually tell you how they’re doing rather than just saying, “I’m fine.” That might catch you off guard if you’re used to brief answers, but you probably shouldn’t let that show at that moment.
It’s hard to imagine how a “haha” can be considered rude. However, it all depends on how the phrase comes out. If it’s a proper open-mouthed belly laugh, it’s bound to cause some upset in places like Japan. That’s because they apparently consider this kind of laughter to “sound like horses” and, therefore, be impolite. It doesn’t matter if you find something to be outrageously hilarious; you still need to keep your composure in a country like this. This behavior is their equivalent of eating with your mouth open or coughing excessively.
Saying “thank you”
In the U.S., it’s considered standard decency to say “thank you” when someone pays you a compliment. Not doing so would typically be seen as rude by the other person, ensuring they’ll never say anything nice to you again. However, it’s the reverse in Japan. There, saying “thank you” is reportedly quite arrogant and egotistical. If you don’t want to cause any upset, you’re best not paying the compliment any attention.
Asking for condiments
People like to enjoy their meals in different ways, which is why condiments exist. However, if they’re not readily available in countries like France or Portugal, the last thing you should ever do is ask for some. This is apparently seen as rude to some chefs because they view it as an insult to their cooking skills. So, you’ll have to just enjoy the meal as it comes.
Most people don’t ever want to be intentionally rude to someone, but when you don’t know what’s acceptable in other countries, it’s sometimes inevitable. Fortunately, the internet can always help you avoid these awkward faux pas.