“The British are coming!” is the legendary phrase (often erroneously) attributed to Paul Revere during the American Revolution. These days, the British are actually going as they continue with plans to exit the European Union. The United Kingdom is not one culture. Rather, it is a geography full of regional distinctions throughout England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. From language, to climate, to economy, the multicultural UK continues to ask itself what it means to be British. At the same time, it grapples with what it means to be English, Scottish, Welsh, or from Northern Ireland. Consequently, one can expect a vast range of cultural styles in the UK. The following tips will help raise your awareness of some of the most common challenges we hear about…
British history evolved slowly. This has influenced the cultural belief that gradual change is best. It’s considered more stable and longer lasting. Similarly, decision-making in the UK tends to be a slow, steady process. Therefore, it’s critical to look at risks and not just opportunities. Moreover, avoid the hard sell. It can lead to resistance. And, ask lots of questions when you are not sure. Sometimes it’s better to make the wrong decision for all the right reasons!
The British have mastered the art of toned down, nuanced, and understated communication. The word “rather” may be used to lessen the effect of a negative statement. For example, “The conference was rather disorganized” likely means it was chaotic! Similarly, “quite” is often used when you don’t want to say something negative. So, “The food was quite good” may mean it could have been much better! Don’t necessarily take a statement at face value.
“An Englishman’s home is his castle” reflects the high value placed on privacy. This concept extends into many areas. For example, personal space. It’s advisable to say sorry if you accidentally touch another. Or feelings. It’s common to show emotional reserve and avoid confrontation. And finally, relationship-building. Trust and credibility are best built over time. Consequently, keep calm, carry on, and share personal emotions and feelings in private moments with those you know well.