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Americans and The Art of Exaggeration | 27 juni 2019

“How come did you end up choosing America for your operational internship?” – the one question I got asked millions of times, during a handful of interviews with the school, the hotel’s HR director, even the US Embassy, plus my current managers and colleagues at the Hyatt Regency. Without a pause of hesitation, I could just simply give a whole lot of answers: tremendous knowledge and skills related to the industry; a mega hub for trends, innovations and developments; plenty of employment opportunities; and last but not least, the most significant cultural diversity in the world. Having worked and lived in this country for a couple of months, I have been able to observe and discover myself some of the interesting aspects of this culture, one of which can simply be recognized as “exaggeration”.

OMGGG fantastic!

Saturday, February 17th. Emily has a reservation for a party of 6 at Barrel & Bushel, one of a few restaurants in the area offering Brunch Menu on weekends. She’s being upset for not getting a quiet table upon her request, even though she might notice it is way too unreal for this casual diner packed with a hundred people at the moment. The plates are being sent; an appetizing fried chicken benedict served with sanity smooth and silky hollandaise sauce is placed in front of her: “OMGGG fantastic! Look at how gorgeous it is! I bet it’s going to be one of the best benedict dishes I have ever had!”.

I was there, witnessing the story from head to tail, being amazed by her abilities to switch between two extreme states of emotions just in a snap of the finger. Frankly speaking, the benedict looked truly amazing and delectable, but her expressions would make anyone but Americans feel like she was enjoying her time at one of Gordon Ramsey’s dining properties instead of a cozy local restaurant. Exaggeration is simply one of the signature characteristics of the American culture, which sooner or later you will definitely come across, even when grabbing a coffee at Starbuck and hearing someone say: “That’s just awesome! Thank you so much! I do appreciate that”.

"Just awesome"

That being said, under the scope of cultural identities, are there any proper explanations for this type of Americans’ embellishments? Together with my colleagues, I have concluded some worth-talking points even though it may sound subjective and inaccurate to some people. First, Americans, in general, are positive and optimistic, therefore, they barely see any value in defining things just as it exactly is. Second, American people tend to look for point of connections from others, creating a sense of equality and belonging inside the community, which is also resulted in the way folks usually address each other by their first name, even if it’s the boss or manager. Last, in such an individualistic society, recognitions of values and worth are extremely significant in this culture, meanwhile exaggerating and complimenting can truly motivate others to fulfill their responsibilities and become driven for success. Despite the fact that it sounds “awesome” to implement the exaggerated language in giving compliments, it would certainly fool you around when identifying whether that person considers something “just good” or “extraordinary and staggering”.  

The cultural aspect of the USA

How did I feel towards these overstatements after all these years having grown up in Vietnam where we emphasize the use of euphemism and self-depreciation in our language and society? Needless to say: confused, shocked, absurd, annoyed, grateful, honored, etc., a whole bunch of different reactions. It will definitely take me a while to familiarize myself with this cultural aspect of the USA, for sure!

“If a Big Mac with everything on it is awesome, then how do we describe the Grand Canyon?”. You tell me, Americans?

"Tri is one of our newest members of the team. With him only being here a few weeks, he has already shown his leadership ability. He is a quick learner and team player. Even under stressful shifts, he is still smiling. Go Tri!" - Hyatt Regency Tysons Corner Center

Credits: Tri Nguyen, 2nd year student Hotel Management School Maastricht


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