New York working culture shocks #5: I never make mistakes (openly)

Moving across the Atlantic from Hamburg (Germany) to New York City (USA) in June 2019 was an adventure all in itself. After living here for about 1 year and 4 months now, it feels right to look back and record some of my experiences. One of the biggest changes has been: Working in New York City.


Disclaimer
This is my personal experience relating to my specific company in New York. I am not trying to make any generalizations or criticize New York or even the US in general. Instead of thinking in the terms of better or worse, I like to think of things being different without putting any connotation to it.

I never make mistakes (openly)

Another thing that I noticed with some, was the need to save face. Even though a lot of my colleagues seemed very confident, brave and open at first glance, I slowly began to register that it was oftentimes outward pretense. Showing true insecurity, lack of knowledge or ability seemed close to impossible. Of course, being vulnerable and admit mistakes is uncomfortable, but I truly believe that they are part of the human condition and the only way to learn and grow. We will never be perfect, and that is okay. It is actually normal. But to a lot of my New York colleagues it seemed unthinkable to let other’s even question them that way.

An attempt to understand the importance of image

The New York mentality that I have encountered is very much about having it all together. To the outside world, everything is “great”, “awesome”, “amazing”. And to a certain degree, it is a great relief from the ever-brooding, always criticizing German mentality that I am used to. Unfortunately, if everyone always seems to have it together, the individual might feel like they are the only one that is struggling. And in the shadow of the American Dream and the belief that everyone being utterly responsible for their own success (or failure), admitting hardship might feel like a personal and permanent flaw.

Additionally, for some employees, there is a constant, subtle and subconscious fear of losing their job. With unstable job markets and At-will employment as well as a hire and fire mentality and unpredictable employers (and trust me, everyone in New York has stories about those), this danger seems far too tangible. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure, so you keep your head low and try to get by.


This is my personal experience relating to my specific company in New York. I am not trying to make any generalizations or criticize New York or even the US in general. Instead of thinking in the terms of better or worse, I like to think of things being different without putting any connotation to it.

I truly believe that it is a privilege to have the opportunity to dive into a culture and learn more about how things are done in another country then my own. No country or culture is perfect. And by experiencing others, we get to learn and analyze what we personally admire, cherish and want to incorporate into our own way of life. So if you stay open to it, there is so much potential for growth hidden right in front of you.

How about you?
Did you ever transfer to a different work culture? And if so, was the importance of image different from your home country?

Cover picture shows the Manhattan Bridge and was taken in Brooklyn, New York (USA) in Dec 2019

Missing the beginning of this story?
New York working culture shocks #1: How did I get here

2 thoughts on “New York working culture shocks #5: I never make mistakes (openly)

Add yours

  1. I don’t think it’s just a NYC thing for people to be reluctant in admitting their faults, but rather a human trait found in many cultures. I think it’s just Americans, in general, who seem to show more pride in themselves, at least so more obviously, to the public. A little bit of confidence doesn’t hurt, but never overdo it: I wish more people would be willing to be more vulnerable, more open to admitting their mistakes and learning from them. It’s something that I, also an American, am still working on, and it makes life a lot happier!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agreed, there is a lot of benefit in being open an vulnerable. And humans in general don’t like the discomfort that come with it. I am also trying to learn and embrace the growth that comes from trying these new ways.

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: