British Culture

Do's and Don'ts

Do’s

  • Make an effort to keep interactions polite and friendly, evenly balanced with directness, humour and humility—even when under pressure. Rudeness is often remembered.
  • Keep a balance on how direct you are and be careful not to introduce difficult topics bluntly.
  • If you want to criticise or ridicule something that is not of a wholly serious matter, it’s best to use humour to do so. The British are less likely to complain about smaller inconveniences that arise in life, so try to be patient with such matters as well.
  • Control your anger or emotions as public outbursts and large displays of emotion are uncommon.
  • Be patient and respect the processes in place (for example, when queuing). Making an attempt to hurry someone up or disrupt the established order is likely to be unappreciated, or result in you having to wait even longer.
  • Acknowledge where a person is from in the UK (i.e. England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland), but do not draw upon stereotypes to distinguish them.

 

Don'ts

  • Do not boast or make ostentatious comments that give the impression that you see yourself as superior to others. Bragging and boasting is often seen as contrived and obnoxious.
  • Do not be overly critical in public. The British like to minimise confrontation, so complaining loudly (e.g. to a waiter) while in their company will most likely embarrass them.
  • Avoid asking about personal matters when beginning a conversation—particularly those concerning one’s relationship or financial situation. If one is not forthcoming on a point of discussion, digging further to encourage openness is unlikely to work. It is best to change the topic and talk about something less personal, such as the weather or a sporting event.
  • The British like to tease, so do not take their jokes too seriously or literally.
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