Understanding the British Mindset
Chiltern Relocation enjoys meeting clients from all over the globe and as part of our relocation service we also offer ‘Intercultural Training’ to help with the particular British nuances that are just – well – so British!
Cathy Wellings from The London School of International Communication led a presentation last week for a group of Canadians who have recently settled in the UK and were keen to dig a little deeper into the British mindset in order to make the most of their working and social relationships in the UK.
During her presentation Cathy touched on the often quirky British ‘code of communication’. Does ‘let’s meet for a coffee at the end of a greeting actually mean get your diary out? More often than not it’s more of a casual line – like ‘see you soon’ – and the coffee may or may not happen – but as she explained – that’s ok! ‘How are you?’ is also to be treated as a general relaxed greeting rather than requesting an in depth report on your daily struggles.
Cathy went on to explain that the Brits are quite understated and have a self-deprecating sense of humour. She advised that the Brits prefer to be modest about achievements rather than overtly talking up their game. And to remember that the British like to use irony!
Decoding was also key. Learn to read between the lines with comments. Brits are not wired to be negative so you need to read the signs…comments such as ‘with all due respect’ and ‘that’s one way of looking at it’ are responses that need careful decoding!
One common question that was raised was, what is the right amount to tip and when do you tip? For North Americans 20 – 25% is the norm and they tip most situations whereas in the UK and knowing where to tip and how much is a bit of an unwritten rule. Has the service been included on the bill or not? If not 10-15% is the correct amount – but if the service has not been great then again this is also not a set ‘rule of thumb’. No need to tip in chain coffee shops but if you have waitress service for coffee and cake/lunch then tip expected.
During the talk Cathy also touched on the differences between living in the north vs the south of the UK, the national obsession with the weather and the need to respect privacy and personal space.
The session was interactive with the chance to explore different scenarios and really dig deep into the unwritten communication of the Brits. If you or your colleagues would like to learn more about intercultural training please do get in touch.
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