It is not a secret that Eastern Europeans (especially Russians) are usually described as “weirdoes that don’t smile”. It is so true but we don’t smile not because we don’t want to smile. It is rather we don’t tend to smile because there are several cultural reasons that have influenced our mentally and behaviour. Let’s see what they are.
So, the catch is:
1. We don’t show emotions.
You don’t really smile in Eastern Europe walking down the street just because you are in a good mood. Indeed, you need to have an actual reason to smile. As an example, it is fine to smile (but not for long) if you have just heard some good news or someone gave you a compliment (this happens quite rarely, that people compliment each other on the street). Instead of sharing them with the crowd, Eastern Europeans prefer to hide their emotions. We believe that this poker face makes us look strong, invulnerable and invincible.
2. You will be considered being crazy.
What’s more, if people notice you smiling without a reason in Eastern Europe, 99% will think that you are mentally unstable. So, if you ever happen to travel to Eastern Europe, try changing your habits and get rid of the smile. Otherwise, you can easily get in trouble.
3. You will very look suspicious.
As smiling is not a common pursuit in the Eastern part of Europe, doing that might cause some reasonable suspicions. People might think the following, ‘This person has definitely something on this mind! He has a sly smile on his face!’. So don’t ever dare to step into a caffe expressing your high spirits. You might get treated as a thief.
Check the Global 3000 reportage from Moscow about non-smiling Russians:
To compare, the English find the act of not smiling rude and even impolite. They might also presume, that you are having some hard-times if you don’t put this ‘stiff smile’ when you catch someones eyes on the tube, for example. My personal experience has absolutely confirmed this theory.
Here is a story from my life: when I first moved to London, for about first three-four months people kept stopping me on the street almost every morning. Guess what they wanted from me? Diligent Englishmen were offering me help, honestly believing that something must have had happened to me. I presume I must look very unhappy when I’m in my occasional ‘Eastern European mood’. How ironic.
An Eastern European smile is the sincerest one in the world. If you will ever see this nation smiling, know that it comes from the bottom of the heart.
Up to press, I don’t hear “Is everything alright, love?” anymore. Probably because I have adopted to the new culture and my face looks slightly happier then some time ago.
Recently, my English boyfriend has told me, “My first impression of you was that you are a terrible heartless b*tch. You had a face like a slapped arse!”. This is how cultural differences create absolutely wrong assumptions of people. As the saying goes — don’t judge a book by its cover!