Magazine topic: 
Life around the world

British manners

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Before my year abroad, everyone advised me to say 'yes' to everything. I initially thought they just meant trying new food, spontaneous trips or meeting up with new people. 
They weren't wrong. Here in Germany, 'I don't mind' doesn’t seem to be an acceptable answer. Neither does 'I'll do whatever you want to do' or 'Really, either way is fine by me'. It really is just yes or no.
Despite having a huge smile on your face, most Germans will look at you as if you're incapable of making a decision, which of course isn't true: we're just being really typically British. 
My first encounter of this was when I arrived at my B&B for the first two nights in Germany and the owner asked when I would like my breakfast in the morning. Being stereotypically British, I replied saying whenever was easiest for her. She gave me a confused look and asked again.
        'No, when do you WANT to have breakfast?' 
        'Er, OK ... err ... 8 a.m.?' She smiled and instinctively I quickly added: 
        'Only if that’s convenient for you though.'
I knew about the British stereotype of politeness before I came abroad but I didn't realise how much so until I arrived here and began experiencing it on a day-to-day basis. Waiters give you funny looks in restaurants when you say thank you repeatedly - when they take your order, when they arrive with your order, when you give them your money, when you receive your change and once again, as leaving. 
But that's just polite, right?! Perhaps just for the British and for everyone else, totally unnecessary. 
And when it comes to me asking questions, it's even worse. 'Would you be able to do that for me if it's not too much trouble, please?' just doesn’t work here. You have to be direct and say what you want. The first time I said 'Pass that here', my heart was racing and I could almost hear my Mum screaming in my head about manners. But when not a single eyelid batted in the room, I knew I had finally cracked it. 
In a Q&A session this week with a new class, I was asked what difficulties I'm facing here in Germany. My answer was straight and to the point: 'everyone here is very direct'. 

Do you think good manners vary from country to country? 


May1's picture
May1 14 April, 2019 - 13:08

Manners vary from country to country. This variation exists in whole over the world. But I don't prefer the German manners which are mentioned here. Rather I prefer politeness because it is the best of all manners.

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Ariyan's picture
Ariyan 13 April, 2019 - 17:10

Yes, I think that manners vary from country to country. . I think that it depends on traditions and other historic habits every nation has.

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cklj's picture
cklj 5 November, 2016 - 08:10

Yes, I think that manners vary from country to country. That variation is due to the differences in the way the children are raised. The family has to set the foundation because the little children imitate what their parents do. Therefore is important to watch out how we behave. Our behavior reflects.

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Forever_in__dream's picture
Forever_in__dream 12 June, 2016 - 12:55

Yes, some manners are very different from country to country. I think that it depends on traditions and other historic habits every nation has. For example, I know that in China when you ask somebody how to get somewhere and that man don't know where it is, you will risk to be given a wrong way and get lost. It's their politeness, because it's very rude for them to refuse somebody's questions. I don't even talk about behaviour and manners when having dinner! They are extremaly different in many countries. Sometimes these situations can be confusing, so it's very important to know about culture of the country you are going to travel to. Nevertheless, there are a lot of common manners in many countries, such as formal relationship between workers and bosses, strangers and local inhabitants, among people who don't know each other. They can be formal or neutral that makes it easier to communicate with people all over the world without any reason to be misunderstood.

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hadia's picture
hadia 13 April, 2015 - 08:45

I think good manners are always present in every country. Like what AliceK has mentioned about politeness , I think that in every country (Almost) this quality is present in the people. People usually speak polite and have manners. Usually in our country people are more hospitable and are always ready to help others. They practice high standards of morality and their dealings and etiquette are appreciable. Well! i think that manners do not change much!

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patchyplum's picture
patchyplum 11 January, 2015 - 08:09

Yeah they do!Here,in srilanka people are extrememloy polite and hospitable but when it comes to communication between natives it's quite different as they try to become too friendly.But as a whole srilanka can be considered as a very polite and hospitable country ever to be found!

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JoEditor's picture
JoEditor 8 October, 2014 - 09:11

Hi Monisa,
Can you give us some examples of how manners are different in different countries? 
Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team) 

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