All over the globe people tend to have similar preconceived notions of what a standard British civilian looks, walks, talks and acts like. Some of the British stereotypes, I can confirm, are quite accurate whilst others can be pretty hilarious but also a little unfair.
Every culture has their own stereotypes and, of course, it’s unfair to judge and categorise everyone from Britain into certain categories, but it is also quite nice to prepare yourself for how a typical British person behaves so that you know not only what you’re in for, but also how to respectfully behave when you are surrounded by the British culture.
Here is a brief guide to some of the most common cultural British stereotypes, both fact and fiction.
STIFF UPPER LIP
This term comes from the idea that an emotional or upset person has a quivering lip, so a stiff upper lip refers to the concept that the British are quite reserved and keep their emotions and feelings to themselves. Whilst the times are changing and this is becoming less and less true, compared to other cultures around the world, the British are still quite closed off emotionally and it can take quite some time and hard work to be able to break down those walls.
Irony and heavy sarcasm are the bedrock of British humour. Being able to tell when your British friends are being sarcastic from when they are trying to have a serious conversation takes some serious skill and even after years of living in the UK, it is likely that you will still often get it wrong. At least there are a lot of hilarious and sometimes awkward conversations to be had in the meantime, though.
The British are undoubtedly the best queuers in the world. They have it nailed down to a respectable art form and few things offend Brits more than seeing someone jump the queue they’re standing in. It is all about fairness and waiting your turn. Therefore, dear IDEAL-clients, be aware of above and don’t act any differently!
HATE OF CONFRONTATION
British folk spend a lot of time and effort avoiding any possible awkward or confronting moments in social situations. Because of this, they have mastered the art of small talk, something you will probably want and need to practise yourself. We, at IDEAL, will guide you through the most useful and effective ways to express yourself accordingly.
TALKING ABOUT THE WEATHER
As already mentioned in some of my IDEAL-blogs, this is possibly the most spoken topic in the country. Keep an eye on the daily forecast for the best of emergency conversations.
Britain has always been a nation of tea drinkers. In many workplaces, it is considered outrageous to get up and make yourself a cup of tea without offering a round to everyone within ear shot. Tea drinking is serious business in Britain. Make sure that you get the right amount of water to milk ratio! If you fail you to succeed, you will be detected as a foreigner straight away.
At Ideal English Language Courses, we make sure that our students get an appreciation for the English culture as well as the English language.