Cultural: Mindset

 The Polish national emblem is the White Eagle. Here it is, over the top of an American flag - I found the clip on the 'web' and is probably used by a Polish-American group.

The Polish national emblem is the White Eagle. Here it is, over the top of an American flag - I found the clip on the 'web' and is probably used by a Polish-American group.

People tend to think if you look different, for example, you have different color skin or different type of hair, then you ARE different, but if you look the same - same skin tone, or same hair type, that you ARE alike.

But it isn't true. Not at all.

Each of us comes to daily life with a set of core beliefs and ideas - things we've absorbed into our lives without even thinking about it - they just "are". This is our mentality - how we look at things and our basic attitudes about life.

It is true in a country like Poland for us Americans. I am frequently reminded that even though I've been here now for 20+ years, there are times that I still don't understand the Polish mentality. 

I can deal with other ideas later...today's post is about this one sign. We were driving in Warsaw one day and I saw this sign - it caught my attention and made me literally laugh out loud.

This sign says that "Your acquaintance will have 1500 zl * more than you when they retire.  You also can start saving today."

While it is really quite impossible to categorize "all Americans" as one way as there will always be exceptions, after all the USA, with few exclusions, is full of people who have immigrated from other cultures/backgrounds, each bringing many of the mindsets and cultures with them, it is a bit easier to "stereotype" Polish people.

For example, you can say, "Polish people are Roman Catholic", even though not 100% are, and even among the Roman Catholics, there are many types. Or you can say, "Polish people are white" - which is true, though there may be some who have darker skin if there has been intermarriage in their background.  You can make other generalizations about them such as--  "They are hospitable", "They value vacations", "They value family", "They ...whatever"   even if it isn't 100% true about all.

 Here in Poland we use the Polish zloty - not the EURO. This is what it looks like.

Here in Poland we use the Polish zloty - not the EURO. This is what it looks like.

You can also generalize that they tend to more freely ask questions pertaining to income and money from friends and family than the typical American does.  

It isn't a problem for many of them to ask how much a pair of shoes or a purse cost you, or "How  much did you pay for that grill?" (I'm not talking close friends here - people who you now but aren't close to.)  It was very uncomfortable to us when we first got here, and my husband came up with the idea to answer, "Too much" to such questions. That's what we do now.

Back to the sign - This idea of comparing yourself to your neighbor and not yourself  just struck me as funny.

Why?

Well, for the most part, in the family and circles I grew up in, we did not talk about "How much people made" or "How much retirement a certain person had."

It was a moot point--you had what you had - some had more and some had less---usually depending on the type of job you had as you were working or if you started with family money. Most Americans are pretty private about things like that - it's personal, and they are uncomfortable talking about it, and would feel EVEN more uncomfortable talking about it in relation to their neighbors.

This sign would work better, to the American's mindset if it said, "Invest with us and you could have 1500 zl more a month than you thought possible for a more active retirement" or something to that point.  

I know that many Americans are competitive, and there are probably people who actually do know what their neighbors/acquaintances make and feel this kind of personal competitiveness about retirement with them.  I don't know. I've not lived in the USA for quite a while now.

Most people I know are more concerned with building their own retirement/ minimizing their own debt - and less concerned about what their neighbors may or may not have.

Anyway.

That's just one tiny little cultural difference I've noticed.  Some other time I can deal with some other things I've come across.

Have a great day!

*at current exchange rates that is about $450--at the time I saw the sign it represented over $500

Becky PetersenComment