The language of friendship

Cultural diversity on friendship

Characters team Feb 07. 2017
by Characters team

The American finds his friends next door and among those with whom he works. It has been noted that we take people up quickly and drop them just as quickly.  Occasionally a friendship formed during school days will persist, but this is rare. For us (Americans) there are few well – defined rules governing the obligations of friendship. It is difficult to say at which point our friendship gives way to business opportunism or pressure from above.

In this we differ from many other people in the world. As a general true, in foreign countries friendships are not formed as quitely as in the United States, but go much deeper, last longer and involve real obligations. For example , it is important to stress that in Middle East and Latin America your ‘’friends’’ will not let you down. The fact that they personally are feeling the pinch is never an excuse for failing their friends. They are supposed to look out for your interests. Friends and family around the world represent a sort of social insurance that would be difficult to find in the United States. We do not use friends to help us out of disaster as much as we do as a means of getting ahead- or, at least, of getting the job done.

The United states systems work by means of a series of closely tabulated favors and obligations carefully doled out were they will do the most good. And the least that we expect in exchange for a favour is gratitude.The opposite is the case in India, where the friend’s role is to ‘’sense’’ a person’s need and to do something about it. The idea of reciprocity as we know it is unheard of.  An American in India we will have difficulty  if he attempts  to follow American friendship patterns. He gains nothing by extending himself in behalf of others, least of all gratitude. Because the Indian assumes that what he does he does for the good of his own psyche. He will find it impossible to make friends quickly and is unlikely to allow sufficient time for friendships to ripen. We will also note that as he gets to know people better, they may become more critical of him, a fact that he finds hard to take. What he does not know is that one sign of friendship in India is speaking one’s mind.

Source:‘’Marketing Across Cultures’’ 

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