Canada has been my wonderful home for 5 years now. As an Australian, it was an easy cultural transition. After a couple of vocabulary changes, I felt like I comfortably fit in. Recently, I had a rare unpleasant experience while selling our boat on Kijiji and it felt very un-Canadian.

Kijiji Chat

The experience got me thinking about the essence of being Canadian.

In general I’ve found that liberals concern themselves with impact while conservatives are more interested in intent. For instance in gender nomenclature, liberals are concerned with using terms that will have the least negative impact on the individual being addressed. Whereas conservatives regard the terms used as irrelevant as long as the intent was not meant as an insult. Both styles of communication are legitimate, one puts the onus of insult on the sender and the other on the receiver. Problems arise when people discount the other form of communication resulting in the perception of liberal snowflakes and heartless conservatives.

A jerk is a person that expects others to judge them on their intent while simultaneously judging others on their impact. For instance, the driver that gets annoyed when they get cut off and also annoyed when others won’t let them aggressively merge.

In my experience Canadians are wonderful, the exact opposite of jerks. Canadians focus on the intent when receiving and impact when delivering. Canadian communication manifests itself in interesting ways. For instance, Canadians commonly say “happy holidays” but wouldn’t be insulted if someone said “merry christmas” no matter their religious persuasion. Canadian communication makes it difficult to insult a Canadian or be insulted by one, no matter what your communication style. While this trait isn’t universally or uniquely Canadian, I’ve found it very common here.

My experiences are from Ottawa so I’m interested if others share this view of Canada. Leave a comment below with your Canadian experience; please include your origin and where in Canada you were.