A Brazilian’s impression of the Germans

Brazil and Germany differ in so many ways, but regarding relationships, I think it’s always interesting to point out the examples of cultural uniqueness and the differences between our countries that tend to make people feel very uncomfortable and confused, though in a Seinfeld sort of way.

Since I’ve been living in Germany for some time now, I’m growing accustomed to the straightforward way in which people talk to each other. Since this honesty among Germans is so striking to me, I would like to begin a series of impressions about the big difference between the Brazilian and German behaviors in relationships, starting from this point:

True Lies

I know one can’t generalize any cultural behavior, but I don’t think I ever met people as honest as the Germans. I’m not only talking about honesty, as in good character, but more about the sort of behavior that in Brazil, for an example, would be inconceivable within relationships and almost worthy of a slap in the face. I can give you an example from my life experience here in Germany: I was with my – at the time – boyfriend, complaining to him about my weight (even though I didn’t really mean it, I just wanted a compliment – yes, we Brazilians use this trick) and he replied to me, with a straight face: “Why don’t you go to the gym?”. Mind you, he didn’t think I was fat either. He just thought I needed advice, instead of going for the obvious compliment. That’s your rational, in your face German attitude.

With my German friends, I’ve learned that they are not afraid of saying what they think either: if they are bothered with something that you did to them, they will tell you. If they don’t want to meet you, they will tell you why (no excuses included).
This way of communicating is a little bit too harsh to me. Most Brazilians try hard not to hurt anyone’s feelings. We tell each other some small lies to avoid confrontation, also with the purpose of not creating an uncomfortable situation for the other person. To us it is better to say: “I had a great time”, “Yes, the food tasted well” or the classic: “You are not fat; you look beautiful”, even if you don’t really mean it or don’t want to sound unfriendly.

Despite the Latin friendliness and European coldness, I believe that these apparent differences do not have to keep anyone from having meaningful relationships with each other: I ended up marrying an honest, anti-social and lovable German, and I couldn’t be happier about it 🙂


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