This is really interesting for me to read as it shows how ”we” as Brits have a such a way of being distant from each other and new comers. I see African/American students on the bus every day waving or shouting ”hi” to each other. I will get on a bus and put my music in and stare out the window. It just seems natural unless someone is wearing a cool costume or I recognise them from somewhere then I might talk to them…
I found this information on http://www.shef.ac.uk/newstudents/welcome/living/culture
Cross Cultural Communication:
2. To newcomers, the British can seem a strange and difficult nation.
To be fair, any host nation can seem strange and difficult to a newcomer in any land. We have all grown up learning strict codes of conduct, rules of behaviour and lists of what is or is not polite. However, these rules and customs are quite different from country to country and few of us are ever taught them in a systematic way. We absorb them, throughout our lives, learning what is acceptable within our own culture and discovering what is not.
-whilst I was in France, The Alps, well when I first got there I knew I would have to change my ways. Every new French person I met would greet me with a kiss on both cheeks, sometimes during the winter I would forget to do this when greeting French people. A few times my friends would tell me how it is rude not to kiss both cheeks! I found it awkward sometimes and I didn’t want to be rude either.
4. Personal Space
- British people like a lot of space around them.
- They tend not to make physical contact of any kind with strangers and feel very uncomfortable if anyone stands too close to them. They will instinctively draw away if anyone comes too close.
I notice people getting flustered with their suitcases or shopping trying to get through town. Their personal space automatically becomes larger because they have responsibility for a larger bubble. People are very possessive in the UK and tend to be protective over our things. Maybe this is why we want a bigger space or why people from other countries think we ”like” a lot of space around us.
5. Shaking Hands
One example of the British `keeping their distance´ is the infrequency with which people will shake hands with one another. British people do not shake hands with one another very often at all.
I do not know the last time someone shook my hand. It just doesn’t happen here unless I spot some business men or professionals meeting.
7. Please and Thank You
- ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’, are probably the three most important words in the British-English vocabulary.
- British people are easily offended if the words are not used. In many languages and cultures such fundamental importance is not attached to these words; one can be perfectly polite without uttering them. In Britain almost the first words children are taught are ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’ (or ‘thanks’ or ‘ta’).
- What happens if you don’t use them? In a hall of residence dining room, for example, if one says ‘Chips’ or ‘Can I have chips?’ or ‘Let me have some chips’, the chips will almost certainly be served. However, the facial expression and body language of the person serving will give a clear indication that they are unhappy, offended or do not like dealing with this particular student. The student may see this negative reaction but not be aware what has gone wrong. S/he may see that staff are more friendly towards British students and may assume that staff simply do not like foreigners. It is far more likely that ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’ were omitted from the exchange and that the British person was reacting to this.
The muttering part is true. It’s like we’re shy to be polite most of the time. I’m not sure because I went to public school. To be polite wasn’t ‘cool’ at school. Things seemed rough and there are more public schools than private schools in Britain so this could have evolved through school life and expectations.
The British may seem to talk about many personal things but are, in fact, very private people.
- Privacy is regarded as a right.
- People do not like to share possessions without being asked.
It can be hard to trust someone with something you really want to keep or really like. Our possessions are not always sentimental but we really like to have control over the things we own. In France, it was different. If you want to borrow someones expensive camera for filming they will give it to you because they know they trust you with it. Trust isn’t such an issue. That again is a cultural thing. French people in the mountains tend to be much more relaxed than the city people.