Woman holding sunglasses

Why Are Americans So Nice? Americans Respond to the Amusing Question

Americans have a reputation overseas for being friendly. But according to many shell-shocked foreigners who’ve interacted with Americans, “nice” should be added to the list as well.

Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.

An Answer, Please

Woman looking through a magnifying glass.
Photo Credit: olly via stock.adobe.com.

A Bosnian who’s traveled to European and Asian countries says they were stunned by people’s niceness upon arriving in the U.S. “I found this to be awesome and one of my favorite things,” they said. But it led them to wonder, “Is this [being nice] taught in school, or is it just learned behavior common among the people?”

The Better Question

Confused woman.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

“Why are other people not [nice]?” questions an American who appears to be as confused by the question as the foreigner is about their experience with niceness. They explain that while saying “please” and “thank you” are taught, niceness is “just something that comes with the culture.”

Mom Knows Best

Woman thinking.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

“I was raised to believe being nice doesn’t cost me anything, and it just might make the world a little bit better,” offers another American.


Woman smiling with dentures.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

“Same here,” chimes in another person. “Being nice is free. Smiling is free.”

Faking It

Frustrated woman.
Photo Credit: Mix and Match Studio via stock.adobe.com.

One person admits their frustration about foreigners who claim Americans fake being nice. That’s just not the case, they say. “We are genuinely trying to be nice and say hello to folks.”

Across the Pond

Woman covering one eye.
Photo Credit: anetlanda via stock.adobe.com.

An American who spent six years in Scotland said British people constantly mentioned how nice Americans are. “It almost always creeps them out,” they said. They explained that the degree of niceness varies according to the region and that while people aren’t nice all the time, being nice is generally “not an act, or usually even a conscious effort.”

Back to the Basics

Photo Credit: Daniel Vincek via stock.adobe.com.

Some Americans were taught an old saying, “You’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” That’s one way to foster niceness.

A Complicated Question

Woman shrugging.
Photo Credit: Andrei Korzhyts via stock.adobe.com.

Several Americans pointed out that when two people ask each other how they’re doing, the cultural expectation is along the lines of “Good, thanks.” Should one wish to stray from the pack and say something negative, one person says it’s socially acceptable “as long as you do so with sarcastic cheer.”

Sarcastic Cheer

Woman jumping.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

The same commenter offers the following example of sarcastic cheer, using the letters “A” and “B” to represent two people.

“A: ‘How’s it going?’

“B: (Visibly exhausted): ‘Living the dream.’

“A: ‘Haha, I feel ya. Have a good one.’”

Digging Deep

Digging in the sand.
Photo Credit: BamBam/peopleimages.com via stock.adobe.com.

An American believes that having large rural areas, a large Christian population, and a high quality of life are some of the reasons niceness runs in U.S. culture. They believe quality of life is a particularly important point, as it “leaves more mental bandwidth available for generosity, which we frequently rank #1 in the world for.”

A Larger Horizon

Mexican street dancers.
Photo Credit: Kobbydagan via Depositphotos.

“I think it’s just kind of a thing in North America,” observes a North American on niceness. “People in Canada and Mexico are friendly too. There’s not really any reason not to be.” Case in point? “It feels nice to be nice.”

It’s a Good Thing

Sad woman at beach.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

A former study abroad student says they have “no clue” why Americans are so nice. However, they describe themselves as having been “low-key depressed by how rude people were in Europe. No one smiled or made small talk.”

Watch It

Angry woman.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

One person came to Europe’s defense, saying the behaviors Americans construe as rude are often seen as “normal stances” in Europe. “A smile in Europe…is something that kind of has to be “earned,” they said, while noting that there are significant differences with this depending on where one is in Europe.

Classes Don’t Matter

Girl holding an American flag.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

No matter what class one is in, and generally speaking, American “culture values mutual respect regardless of class or social status,” comments one person. What follows is proof that not all Americans are nice all of the time. “If you’re respectful to us, we try to reciprocate. If you’re not, well, we reciprocate that, too.”

Mental Health

Hand holding a tree.
Photo Credit: Berit Kessler via stock.adobe.com.

An American says they’re more conscious than ever of being nice to people, given “today’s mental health crisis.” They take special care to be nice to retail workers, as they were taught that doing so can turn someone’s day from bad to good.

Food for Thought

Hands from different nationalities.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

One commenter recalled a study they had read saying that people from countries with a long history of immigration from different ethnicities are friendlier and greet each other more. The study’s “hypothesis was that living in a place with multiculturalism where many languages are spoken forced people to adopt overly friendly mannerisms to show they aren’t a threat.”

Source: Reddit.

20 Things Foreigners Take Too Seriously About the US

Frustrated woman.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Yellow American cheese and horrible gaps in bathroom stalls, anyone? Americans shed light on what foreigners get all wrong about The Land of the Free.

20 Things Foreigners Take Too Seriously About the US According to Americans

15 British Terms That Baffle Americans

Confused woman.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

They say the U.S. and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language. That appears to be true, according to these terms that Americans don’t understand.

15 British Terms That Baffle Americans

10 Countries That Make Americans Look Thin

Fat man looking down at camera.
Photo Credit: soupstock via Adobe Stock.

Can you name the heaviest countries in the world? Find out just how wrong you probably are.

10 Overweight Countries That Make Americans Look Thin

6 Countries Americans Can Travel to Without a Passport

Throwing away passport.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Can’t get a passport in time for your trip? Check out these countries Americans can travel to without a passport.

6 Countries Americans Can Travel to Without a Passport

21 Startling Things About the U.S., According to Foreigners

Woman holding glasses.
Photo Credit: Sergii Shalimov via stock.adobe.com.

Sometimes it takes seeing something through a foreigner’s lens to understand the differences between Americans and the rest of the world. Ready for a good laugh?

21 Startling Things About the U.S. That Throws Foreigners for a Loop

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top