An uncut scene from Bridesmaids where Kristen Wiig and the teenager argue in the jewelry store. This is improv at its best! Who says Americans can get in each other’s face?
“This girl was only 14 when she held her own with a professional comedian for 10 minutes.”
“Kristen Wiig is an absolute improv genius and not afraid to set herself up as the punching bag for the little girl.”
“They clearly were having way too much fun with this scene. Mia starts to smile too much because it’s such a joy to go so unhinged on somebody. The director probably said to go in there and completely go off on her but don’t overlap lines so we can edit. The editors probably had too much fun with this scene too. Can you blame any of them?”
“Props to Kristen but that girl annihilated her.”
7 April 2022. New York Times:
“There is now little doubt that students frequently bite their tongues because they feel unsafe. A 2021 survey of more than 37,000 college students — by far the largest on free expression to date — found that more than 80 percent of students censor their own viewpoints at least some of the time, while roughly one in five students regularly do so. Meanwhile, only 40 percent of students say that they are comfortable openly disagreeing with their professors.”
Yes, hypersensitivity on American university campuses is well-known. What does this have to do with communication and feedback within American companies? Everything. Political correctness, like it or dislike it, has been a growing force in the United States for several decades.
“Germans, in general, can often be more direct and straightforward than Americans, and to be honest even after living here for eight years, that directness is still sometimes a little shocking for me, a little bit too much, or even sometimes has made me cry!”
A German comment: “Just your example about some shop assistent telling you that the piece of clothing does not fit you at all: I’m always more suspicious about a shop assistent telling me how good it fits keeping in mind he or she just wants their merchandise sold. So I tend more to appreciate an honest, though maybe direct answer.”
Another German comment: “I’m always irritated how well the Americans can hide the truth of what they are thinking behind compliments and smiles. In Germany If you are getting an honest critique, then the person likes you, thinks said critique can improve you and is interested that you do better. So its a good thing 😉 “
Oh, here’s a good one: “As a German, i feel like lying when i am asked about my opinion and i would try to let it sound “nicer”. Everyone is honest and tells what they think about everything. I tried for a while the way that is used in the staates and i gat really that awfull feeling of lying and i konstantly had to think about how i say things and not what i like to say.
In my opinion germans are just used to that honesty and fee unconfortable to alter the opinion just to sound nicer. The other way around, when i meet people from the staates, i have allways that feeling they are sneaky and false, they try to hide their thoughts behind words. I was never sure how they really are and think.”
“I started working for a German company a few years ago and was immediately excited to find that they had a culture of frequent feedback.
As the weeks went on, the feedback kept on coming. Very quickly, I began to see a pattern; it was almost entirely negative. All delivered amazingly well, with examples of how I’d fucked up alongside helpful guidance on how I might want to improve.
The onslaught continued; it was relentless. It became apparent to me that there was very little chance of me passing my probation period if this continued. So I buckled down, pushed myself to breaking point and put in those extra hours to save my job. But still, it kept continuing critical feedback, after critical feedback.
For the first time in my career, I was going to fail my probation period. There was no point in getting feedback on how I improve the situation. I was getting it daily. I was just shit.
So finally, my final probation review came around. Everything was excellent; the company was super happy with my progress and delivery. I passed my probation period with flying colours. But it had broken me. I was fried and burnt out.”
“I have recently started working in an entirely new industry, leading a small team. Shortly after joining, my team’s scope changed to a new problem space.
Again, this company had an active feedback culture and processes. Constant feedback was given to the team every two weeks from leadership. As we built the team and worked out how we were going to achieve our new goals, we got feedback all the time. And it was always positive.
This didn’t play well for me. I knew that there was no way that we could be that good, we were a team with little experience in what we were doing, how could we be doing that well? There must be areas for improvement.
As this continued, positive feedback began to feel more and more empty. I went hunting for critical feedback. Unfortunately, this manifested in me trying to find critical input for the team bellow me. I became overly focused on trying to find areas for improvement in the team.
The problem came to a head when one of my team said ‘I only get negative feedback from you, and I don’t know what to do about it.’ I was so focused on finding the negative areas that we could improve on, and I had not given any support for improvement. I had also failed to celebrate the positive.”
Daylong torrential downpours in the western part of Germany during the third week of July in 2021 led to catastophes in several town. Homes were destroyed. Automobiles swept through the streets. Dozens were killed. Either unwilling to evacuate their homes as or doing so too late.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, on her final trip to Washington as head of the German government, during the official press conference with President Joe Biden, consoled the German population with guarantees of federal assistance.
Armin Laschet, the Premier (governor) of the State of Northrhine-Westphalia, and the chancellor-candidate of the governing party Christian Democrats (think Adenauer, Kohl, Merkel) in the September elections, was on-site in the town ravaged by the flooding.
Malu Dreyer, the Premier of the State Rheinland-Palatinate, of the SPD (Social Democrats), was also on the scene in the hard-hit town of her state. They, and the mayors of the towns, were interviewed extensively.
Interestingly, from the American perspective, none of these leaders – federal, state, local – gave the kinds of words of encouragement and motivation that their American counterparts would have given, and routinely give in such situations.
An American would expect: “Folks, this is a catastrophe. This is aweful. But you know what? We’re Germans. We know how to handle these kinds of situations. It was not long ago that we had to pick up the pieces after the Second World War. It took decades. We can do this ! We will do this ! Because we’re Germans. We know how to do this. So let’s get to work !”
An American woman. Married to a German man. How her husband is very direct. And about how Americans learn to be indirect, especially when giving negative feedback.
Warning ! This woman is a youtuber. And an American on top. So, she is more than a bit animated. And frankly, she could have made her points in about two minutes instead of seven and a half.
Watch the first three minutes.
In his book A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon (2010) author Neil Sheehan describes the life and work of Bernard Schriever, who is considered to be the father of the American nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Schriever and his military and civilian colleagues believed firmly that if both the United States and the Soviet Union possessed these weapons of mass destruction the probability of them being used actually would be decreased.
Schriever had to overcome strong institutional resistance within the U.S. Air Force whose leadership was convinced that manned aircraft﹣strategic long-range bombers﹣was the only way to maintain a credible deterrent against the Soviet Union.
Through telling the story of Bernard Schriever and the development of the American ballistic missile program from the end of Second World War up to the mid-1960s Sheehan tells the history of the Cold War, which would last up until the 1990s with the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the unification of West and East Germany, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, and the freedom of Eastern Europe from Russian domination.
In a 2010 television interview (Booknotes on C-SPAN) Sheehan contrasted Schriever with his American-born military colleagues, Generals Paul Harkins and William Westmoreland, both who had overall command of U.S. forces in the Vietnam War.
Schriever would tell his subordinates that he would never fire anyone for failing, but instead for failing to inform him immediately of problems. For Schriever, as stated by Sheehan, success would take care of itself if one focused on solving the problems at hand. Go to minutes 25:10 to 26:50.
Sheehan had been a young war correspondent in Vietnam for United Press International (UPI), later with the New York Times. As told in his book A Bright Shining Lie (1989), which won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, the American generalship during the Vietnam War was unwilling to accept that America was losing that war.
General Schriever, according to Sheehan‘s research, made clear time and again to the members of this organization, whether military or civilian, that he wanted timely and accurate reports on the problems the program was experiencing, and was far less interested in the progress made.
So-called progress reports had become common within the U.S. military after the Second World War, and according to Sheehan, symptomatic for an institution unwilling to face what was not working.
Bernard Adolph Schriever was born in 1910 in the German port city of Bremen. His father was an engineer. They immigrated to the U.S. only months before the U.S. entered the First World War in 1917.
Schriever grew up in New Braunfels, Texas, an area mostly populated by German immigrants. Read about his fascinating life in Wikipedia
Modern standard sizes for women’s clothing first began in the 1940s in the U.S. However, women preferred smaller sizes, so over the course of the next several decades, the fashion industry began downsizing its sizes, so that a 16 in the 1940s was a 12 in the 1960s and a 6 in recent times.
Thanks to this downsizing there is also a large discrepancy between American and European sizes – an American size 10 is equivalent to a British 14.