In some cases when I talk with someone from another country, he/she starts to talk badly about yet another country, which is neither my country nor my conversation partner's country. The content is usually a strong prejudice against the culture and people in the country, and could include racism.

This tends to happen especially in cases where many people in one country are reported to have negative impression on the country - Brits on Poland, Chinese on South Korea, Taiwanese on mainlanders, Vietnamese on Chinese, etc... In some cases I might feel that they start to talk badly about the country in part to attract my interest and/or feel sympathy, as they seem to know the majority of people from my country hate the country (and they likely had an experience of getting a "successful harmony" in the past but they would not know that people they talked with were racists).

However, I see it rather untolerable. Not only I don't accept their bigotries but also that I rather have quite a positive impression on these countries, and usually travel there frequently.

I usually get silenced and wait for them to finish their contempt. These people might be good otherwise (but not close friends and I don't see them as my friends, either), and not the kind of people I would like to bother to argue with. So how can I avoid it without asking it directly, which might possibly cause a tension?

  • 1
    RE: How can I deal with these situations? is too broad. Please clarify what you'd like to do. And then we will help you with the how.
    – NVZ
    Aug 24, 2017 at 17:42
  • Also, you've got to have an example of something. Is it political reasons? Human rights (race, religion...) reasons? Cultural reasons?
    – Zizouz212
    Aug 24, 2017 at 17:44
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    @Hamlet Do you mean the location it happens? It is everywhere as I experience it while traveling around the world.
    – Blaszard
    Aug 24, 2017 at 17:53
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    You should be asking questions about specific instances, not general patterns.
    – user288
    Aug 24, 2017 at 17:54
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    At least, you should specify a culture. How to deal with it in Asian countries will be different in United States, where people will take a direct approach better. A tailored approach is always better than general answer.
    – Vylix
    Aug 24, 2017 at 19:07

3 Answers 3


Just like whenever you are facing a topic you are not interested in: change the topic.

How you do that will vary depending on your preference and the current culture you are dealing with, but generally changing the topic after an interruption while they talk works wonder.

Excuse me for a minute, I really need to go to the toilet right now.

Hey, I'm thinking to go to "insert place here" after this. Do you know where it is?

Of course, you can just dismiss the talk and leave the person altogether. Saying "I need to go" after looking at the clock rarely goes bad even for strangers.


Your influence is limited, but you will still able to affect their perspective.

There are simply different people; one kind automatically assumes that their home culture is perfect because they are used to it and are shocked and angry that other cultures act otherwise. So it is quite easy: the others are stupid or malicious.

Another kind knows that cultures are different and partly accept it, but their acceptance stops once one of their core values of their personality is constantly neglected or ignored in another culture.

Others which are a very small minority can "switch" cultures and adjust to their surroundings surprisingly well.

So once another person begins to give a country a roasting, simply begin:

I am surprised because I got quite a different impression of this country. I visited it myself since X years and... [nice impressions following].

If the person is simply surprised, it could be that it only heard it from other people or burnt their fingers once. So you can in fact influence them with your real experiences to overthink their impression.

If the person gets morose when listening to your description, it is likely one of the second types; they know that you are telling the truth, they simply do not like the country. They will likely point out exactly the problems they have with the country which gives you a good clue what they personally value high. Could still be an interesting conversation.

If the person gets on the other hand overly aggressive and defensive, you have almost always someone from the first part: They have a very firm opinion about the country which is..erm...not nice. I would advise to leave the conservation, it's no use talking to them. If you do not want to defend your point, simply use an excuse to leave.

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    Exactly. You ask: "Oh, have you been there? I have, such nice people, so friendly, great cuisine, absolutely not like the tabloid newspapers depict them. And you should see what their tabloids there say about us! Don't believe what the press says. I don't know how people can believe that cheap sensationalist stuff."
    – RedSonja
    Mar 2, 2018 at 9:50

You should try to understand if your conversation partner has actually a good reason for talking bad about a country. Sometimes it's not wrong, he/she might disagree with a decision taken by the government or simply dislike an aspect of the country's culture (which is absolutely fine, not necessarily racism). Of course, there are many ways you can say something. If he/she is supporting her/his idea with facts and in a respectful way, then I see no problem. If he/she is just mindlessly insulting a country, you should ask her/him to explain better. By asking the right question, your conversation partner will eventually realize they are in the wrong, or just not thinking enough. You won't risk arguing with them as long as you stay respectful.

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