If you’ve traveled around to different countries, you may have noticed that people around the world don’t tend to smile as much as we do in America. This isn’t all in your head. While many cultures around the world don’t smile very often (or even approve of frequent smiling), America is the land of the free — where everyone has a great, big smile on their face. At least, that’s how it would seem.
In countries that contain a wide range of ethnicities and cultures, they had to learn to use non-verbal cues to communicate with each other since there was a significant language barrier.
In racially homogenous countries, on the other hand, such as China and Sweden, smiles weren’t necessary to build trust across cultural borders. So in countries like these, a smile probably wouldn’t mean what it means in America — a friendly gesture. It might represent something totally different, like wanting to be very close friends or a certain social class expressing dominance.
Of course, there are some cultural differences that play into this. Americans are known to be enthusiastic folks who like to get excited about most things, whether it’s a new version of avocado toast or our politician of choice winning the Presidency.
Other countries may prefer to display values like peace and serenity, rather than enthusiasm.
That’s not to say one country is right and the other is wrong. It’s just that there are stark cultural differences out there that contribute to the amount of smiling you’ll see on a regular basis around the world. Whatever the case may be, keep on smiling. Because it’s nice to know that our country’s diversity has contributed to the great, big smile on our face.