British Culture

Etiquette

Basic Etiquette

  • Always say “please” when asking someone for help. 
  • It is often considered impolite to ask a direct question about someone’s salary, wealth, weight or age.
  • Spitting in public is considered rude.
  • If there is a line for something, always queue and wait for your turn.
  • Do not wave or yell to call over a waiter or person of service. Instead, keep an eye out for them until they make eye contact, and then nod or raise your hand. You may also gently say “excuse me” as they pass by.
  • It is considered rude to ask overly personal, difficult or uncomfortable questions of someone that you do not know well.


Visiting

  • Arrange a visit before going to a British person’s house. Do not arrive unannounced or bring friends and family along unless you’ve asked them beforehand.
  • Avoid arriving early to one's house unless you’ve asked the host.
  • It is generally okay to be 10 to 15 minutes late to a small gathering of people. However, if you are meeting at a restaurant, it is important to be punctual as people will wait for you to order their food.
  • Being late is more acceptable when attending parties and large social gatherings.
  • If you visit a British home, you may not always receive a tour of the house, and many of the doors might be closed out of privacy.
  • Avoid overstaying your welcome by remaining at a British person’s home longer than expected unless they urge you to stay.

 

Gift Giving

  • Gifts are typically only given on special occasions (e.g. birthdays, Christmas).
  • People tend to open gifts in front of the giver, either upon receiving them or later along with other presents.
  • Recipients don’t usually expect to receive gifts of a high monetary value, but rather that the gift will reflect their interests.
  • Token gifts may be given when visiting someone (e.g. wine, chocolate).
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