British etiquette - are we too polite?!
Almost everyone who has studied English has been warned about the way Brits love their manners. It is part of our national identity, as much as fish and chips or complaining about the weather. Recently I have been wondering where this comes from and I read online that we say sorry up to eight times a day. Probably the same amount of times that any other person says “hello” or “how are you”. It is almost like to greeting to us! It was only when I was explaining how there are five steps of saying thank you when you buy something from a shop to a Mexican friend of mine that I realised how mad it sounded.
After some research (googling) I have not been able to find any specific reasons why we are the way we are. I suppose for centuries manners and how we eat at the table and talk to other people has been one of the barriers between the lower and upper classes and represents your social status. Britain has traditionally been a quite conservative and reserved country. There are many articles suggesting that this seemingly polite attitude of always saying please and thank you is quite false because it is impossible to always feel that you want to thank someone or say please.
Maybe it is for this reason that people are going one of two ways: they are incredibly polite and hold back on their feelings or not polite at all, and express their true feelings. Some Brits are fed up of pretending that they are always content and having to please people. Sometimes because we feel we have to be polite we are prevented from saying what we truly think. Some people feel that the hard truth is the best way to be. Do you think it is better to not hurt people’s feelings and be polite or to let people know the truth? In your country what is the custom? How about with bus drivers? Or cashiers? I know in some countries if someone is considered to be doing their job, the clients think that they do not need to be thanked.