Life around the world

Friday, 3 October, 2014 - 14:10

British manners

by AliceK

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'. 
Language level

Do you think good manners vary from country to country? 

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Submitted by Cherry blossom on Sun, 01/22/2023 - 14:11

So many people, countries, we are all so different. And no doubt good manners vary from country to country. What is the standard of politeness for you, in another country it may be a serious violation of good manners. For example, in many countries one of the good manners is to arrive on time. But in Tanzania or Mexico it's polite to be late for a meeting. Or in most countries, people always leave a tip. But in Japan, leaving a tip is an insult. In some countries, such as India, eating with your hands is completely natural. At the same time, in other countries it's a rule of bad taste. That's why it's very important to know about good manners of other countries when you visit them.

Submitted by May1 on Sun, 04/14/2019 - 12:08

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.

Submitted by Ariyan on Sat, 04/13/2019 - 16:10

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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