U.S. Business Executives Get Guide On Image Abroad

Don't be so loud. Listen. Dress up. Those are among the tips offered to U.S. business executives traveling abroad in a new guide aimed at countering the image of the "ugly American". Launched this month by a non-profit group concerned about mounting anti-Americanism worldwide, the "World Citizens Guide" has 16 suggestions designed to change the behavior of corporate America overseas.

The tips in the booklet, to be distributed to executives at major companies such as Novell, McDonald's and the Loews hotel chain include:

  • "Be proud of the American way, but remember it's not the only way";
  • "Listen at least as much as you talk";
  • "Save the lecture for your kids";
  • "Speak lower and slower";
  • "Think as big as you like, but talk and act smaller"; and
  • "Dress up -- you can always strip down."

Keith Reinhard, founder of Business for Diplomatic Action (BDA), the non-profit group that created the pamphlet, said he hopes it will play a small part in reshaping the negative perception of Americans worldwide.

"While we are still admired for what people describe as our youthful enthusiasm, optimism and can-do spirit, we are seen as loud, arrogant and completely ignorant of cultures outside the U.S.," said Reinhard, who is chairman emeritus of the advertising firm DDB Worldwide.

He said the suggestions in the guide were compiled following a survey of people in some 96 countries. "The responses were quite consistent across regions," he said. "The single word that came up more than any other single word was the word 'respect'. Reinhard said business leaders in Western Europe, and more particularly Germany, appeared to be the most frustrated with the behavior of their American counterparts.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006
Sources: IndustryWeek staff, Agence France-Presse

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