General Question

orlando's avatar

Are people in the eastern countries (like in Asia) more friendly?

Asked by orlando (616 points ) January 6th, 2013

I find myself more and more frustrated with the western attitude towards anger. It seems most people find it perfectly normal to be openly angry towards each other, disrespectful and unkind.

I hear Asian countries have a different attitude and that kindness and consideration are the norm in interpersonal interaction. Is that true? Which countries do you find the “kindest”? Thanks.

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22 Answers

Shippy's avatar

I love this question since I was thinking about it the other day. I think different cultures, or cultural standards do influence how people treat one another within society. I come from an angry country, I also for e.g. see other angry countries by how they post and react, even on a portal such as this.

I hate to generalize but I have found as an example people from the far east to be far more kinder, patient and well mannered. I have also visited countries in the far eat and found just overall the caliber of persons to be far more superior in terms of etiquette and approach than westerners.

marinelife's avatar

Not based on the rude Japanese men that have brushed past me like I don’t exist in the Seattle airport.

CWOTUS's avatar

Some places are more outwardly polite. For one example, Thailand (which I have read about, not having visited there yet) is famous for some of the best manners in the world. But as an outsider you would probably be guilty of “offense” in all kinds of ways – which they would never dream of telling you about, since that would be bad manners.

On the other hand, India, with its caste system (which still lingers) means that some Indians (not the police or military) can drive up to an unrelated group of people, demand information from them, and then drive off without a word of acknowledgement or thanks. That I have seen, and it is uncomfortable to me as a westerner to witness.

When you get away from American cities, we are noted around the world as also some of the friendliest people on earth (aside from some tourists, that is, or invading forces involved in a shooting war). However, even our soldiers generally enjoy an excellent reputation for assisting and respecting others once the shooting has stopped.

Aster's avatar

I have never been to any of them but I’ve always heard they are all very gentle, happy and sweet. To the point I think they’d find Americans loud, fat and rude.

Shippy's avatar

@Aster I agree, however, we South Africans beat you for loud, aggressive and not sure about fat.

Pickles's avatar

Japanese I observed , would walk over you or I.
People from India just ripped the intestines out of a college girl after smashing her brain and other body parts. Doesn’t sound friendly to me. How about you?

Patton's avatar

Friendliness is a culturally relative thing. What is friendly in Japan might not be friendly in the United States. What is friendly in France might not be friendly in Pakistan. I was raised in two different countries (England and Iran), and the norms are very different in each.

Coloma's avatar

In my travels in asia, yes, I found most everyone to be friendly, cheerful and smiling.
Small towns such as I live in as well. Everyone waves and the pace is more laid back.
I have had the entire volunteer fire dept.show up to rescue my cat out of a tree and to change a flat tire on the highway. lol

geeky_mama's avatar

My personal experience..
In Asia school girls can hold hands and/or link arms and there is no connotation of sexual orientation—just friendship. So, perhaps school girls are friendlier/closer in the East than the West.

That said, in Japan people will often avert their gaze if they think something bad and/or embarrassing is happening—so I once nearly lost my leg on a train platform once because a bunch of Japanese folks feigned sleep rather than help me up from falling between a train gap.

Also, in Japan if you LOOK foreign (non-Japanese) sales people in department stores and others who are nervous you might try to speak to them in English will avoid you like the plague..more out of fear of being unable to communicate or help you than anything..but still, it does give one the impression that you are unwanted when people intentionally avoid you without knowing in fact that you speak flawless Japanese, don’t bite and do not have active leprosy, really..no worries folks!

I travel a great amount for work—internationally and throughout the U.S. and find that people in the Southern States in America (the Carolinas, Georgia, Mississippi, etc..) are among the most overtly friendly. They strike up conversations in line at the store or gas station, they compliment you on your shirt or just start chatting about the weather with you.
Brazilians come in a close second (again, for me personally) for friendliness as group of people.. but your mileage may vary (for example if your ethnicity & age are different than mine).

CWOTUS's avatar

Maybe they’re more afraid that you’d speak Japanese to them, @geeky_mama. I’m often unavailable to speak to poor new or foreign English speakers until I’ve had some practice listening to them first.

YARNLADY's avatar

I haven’t had experience with other countries, but the people I meet are as friendly as I am.

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

Me and my wife live in America. Two summers ago we spent a month in Europe. With the exception of two weekends (one we spent in Paris, France, the other we spent in Edinburg, Scottland) we stayed in London the whole time.

Now while I must say that not everyone was “friendly” (when I say that I mean they wouldn’t start up a conversation with you) they were polite and they wouldn’t scowl or ignore you if you acknowledged them. Except for France. I know it’s stereotypical to say they are rude, but we found it to be true. It seems to be true that they do hate Americans. They would start off by smiling, but as soon as you spoke and they heard your American accent it was like a complete change in attitude and facial experession.

Overall I do think European countries are more friendly (or at least polite) than the US (except for France), but as far as Asia goes, I really don’t know. I hope this helps.

wundayatta's avatar

I spent a month in Japan in 1980. I don’t recall the Japanese being more or less friendly than Americans. Things were generally safer. We could leave our backpacks on the sidewalk for a day while we climbed a mountain, and they’d be there when we got back.

People picked us up when we were hitchhiking, but then, you could hitchhike in the States back then, as well. You probably could now, too, if it weren’t for all the guns around.

People often offered us help, when seeing we were tourists. But that happens here, too. I guess I think that the distribution of friendly and malevolent people is pretty uniform around the world.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I don’t think its Asians being more friendly, just Americans being dicks.

When I was in Central America I was blown away with how nice everyone was, it was literally impossible to walk past someone on the street without them saying hello to you, asking how you were doing, or at least acknowledging your presence in some way, unlike here in America where the norm is to stare at the ground and pretend the other person isn’t there.

burntbonez's avatar

I don’t think Asians are more friendly. I think that when people from different cultures get together, they tend to give each other more of the benefit of the doubt. Even in America, racist whites are more likely to be easier on African toursists than they will be on American blacks.

lifeflame's avatar

Funny, coming from Hong Kong, I was thinking how it is easier to strike up a conversation with a random stranger in the States than back here. I think Americans tend to smile and hug each other more, where as we are more conservative with touching here. And I think each culture has its own way of demonstrating discontent, rudeness and anger. It may be expressed more directly in the US, but oh…. it can be just as vicious and poisonous if you are keyed in to how things are expressed over here….

The_Idler's avatar

China
Beijing and Shanghai are generally pretty miserable, unless you get to know people.
Smaller Chinese places are usually nicer.
Guangzhou is big, but I’ve always found it friendly… sometimes remarkably so.

All market-sellers in China drive “a hard bargain” for foreigners, but if you learn a bit of Chinese, they will be much more friendly, and usually have a bit of fun with you (as you drive the price down by 95%)

I think Beijing & Shanghai, like London and Paris, are disillusioned WRT tourists, and are mostly sick of them (but not their money). I never got to know any middle-classes there though.

Mainlanders outside of China are usually hard to get to know, but generally really good people with strong sense of morals and acceptable behaviour. Still, there is a lot of diversity in the people of China. Perhaps comparable to Europe.

HK is very busy, but street manners are much better than the mainland, and there are plenty of cool people to get to know. still, there are more scammers than your average chinese city (but less than shanghai & beijing).

Vietnam I found to be friendly, especially outside the cities, with locals generally very interested to speak to foreigners and help them, even through the language barrier. No scamming either, though there is petty crime in the big cities.

Cambodia is a very poor place, but the people are usually VERY nice. They are making something out of you, but they’re actually thankful for your patronage, and I never had someone try to scam me. Not the safest place in SE Asia though.

Thailand I can only speak for the area around Khao San Road, which is populated almost exclusively by drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes, dancing girls, sewer rats, and hedonists of various persuasions. I’m a big fan of vice, and even then this place appalled me. Plenty of friendly people to meet at the bars, but the locals here are all out for a buck.
Can’t extrapolate to the whole country, all other Thai people I have met have been very pleasant.

Malaysia was very accommodating too, again happy to see foreigners taking interest in their culture (even as a heathen during ramadan).

Singapore is elitist in the extreme, and people will immediately judge you based on your perceived wealth and degree of sophistication. I arrived after 2 months travelling Asia, with a beard and dirty trousers, and nobody would even look at me. After shaving and scrubbing up, I was treated with a bit more respect, but I didnt have the money to go out and meet locals. The Singaporeans I have met besides that time have all been nice, though predictably straight-edged.

I’ve hear Laos is really friendly, and I’d like to visit there, next time I’m in the area.

At the moment, I live in Japan. People seem impossibly nice. That doesn’t mean they’re open. Japanese are very shy. But they also have a strong sense of public duty. This duality is manifest in the fact that people will compete to pick up the 1 yen coins you dropped on the floor by accident, to return them to you, but will all dither and sweat and deliberate and hesitate with apprehension, if something serious and confusing is happening (like someone experiencing a seizure on a train).

All that said, the overall experience is extremely pleasant, although sometimes honesty would be more welcome than flattery, or ridiculously over-the-top politeness “hiding” disdain.

Suppression of anger and dislike certainly engender a more civil atmosphere though, until you start to take the tiniest possible suggestions as signs that someone may be disrespecting you, or plotting behind your back.

Still, in general I find the Japanese to have a more positive attitude than English people (where whole sections of society hate everything), which is refreshing…

The_Idler's avatar

It’s worth noting that I’ve only witnessed brawling in Bangkok, of these places…
but it happens almost continuously in England.

Escalation of an argument is considered extremely unsophisticated in Asia.

It’s also worth noting that I live in Fukuoka, which may not make a good generalisation for Japan (although I found Osaka people to be really friendly too!)

Response moderated
El_Cadejo's avatar

I know it’s nitpicking, but it drives me nuts, the spiders, snakes, and scorpions aren’t poisonous. They’re venomous.

pretty_navi's avatar

well, i m from India- and i suppose in today’s job oriented lives, people have lost there friendly nature..almost everywhere i guess.. !!
Talking about my own , from cities to cities it is different. Indians are somehow reserve in befriending with someone easily. but enriching cultures in India prevails many perceptions about this. Like we say “namastey” for friendly purpose while “Handshakes” Or “hug” is befriend symbol in other countries.. Rather i have seen, Americans are much open and friendly :)

CWOTUS's avatar

To nitpick your nitpicking, @uberbatman, how do you know that those things aren’t both venomous and poisonous unless you’ve tried eating all of the parts of them?

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