Nicer Up North
One would think that a warm climate would be conducive to warm dispositions and friendly demeanors (think Jamaica, reggae music, dancing, breaking waves and smiling people), and that the opposite would be true – a cold climate must of necessity create a land of introverts with scowling faces and rude behavior.
Each time we work on a Canadian issue, our writers, of which there are three plus myself, all come back with the same comment, which is that “Canadians are much nicer than we are.” They seem happier; they’re more courteous; they’re a pleasure to deal with.
Those wonderful traits manifest themselves in a variety of ways.
With U.S. companies these days, whether it’s a retail or manufacturing operation, it’s difficult to get a callback even for an interview and the resulting free publicity.
Not so with our Canadian friends. We find that they return our voice mail or email messages quite rapidly. That’s being courteous; that’s being professional. That’s being just plain nice.
If we request a recent photograph to accompany the article, chances are it will be sent in a few days. Not so in the States.
Canadians seem very extroverted and anxious to please – much more so than U.S. citizens.
We asked Glen Spinelli, president and COO of FPI Regency, about this phenomenon, and if he had noticed it as well.
“Yes, there are cultural differences,” he said. “I’m from the East Coast (Connecticut) and my approach is abrupt. It’s in your face. It’s ‘I want to have a discussion. I want to have an argument.’ The Canadians don’t want to do that as much. They are kinder. They are more politically correct.
“But that’s culture. I’ve really become somewhat of a student of culture because I had to adjust my approach. People can tell I’m from the States and that I’m from the eastern side of the States when I speak to anyone here (Vancouver). They say I have an accent. It’s just my rather abrupt way of speaking and they are not used to that. They are kind, caring, happy and want to help everyone.
“What I’ve learned, because I’ve lived on both sides of the border, is that the difference is approach. Canadians are just as passionate; they’re just as caring about an issue or topic. The difference is in how they approach challenges or solutions or arguments.
“They weren’t brought up to argue. Theirs is more of a British approach, or a very professional approach. People aren’t going to be screaming at each other in boardroom meetings in Canada. In the States, that’s just what you do. That’s how you get things done. That’s how you move forward.”
Yes, I said. It’s much more in your face down here. For example, just look at our New Hampshire license plates. The embedded slogan is “Live Free or Die.” Now, that’s right in your face; it leaves little room for discussion and is really an open invitation to an argument.
“Exactly,” said Spinelli while laughing, “and I think ours is ‘Beautiful British Columbia.’”