In the past 9 days, I’ve come to better understand the communication differences between people from the UK and the US. Not necessarily the terminology that we use (even though I’m still trying to remind myself to use “loo” when lookin for a bathroom), but the nuances of language, like context and tone. I’m so used to the standard Southern speech, as it’s all I’ve ever known.
Where I’m from, being loud and friendly is the best way to connect with others. We use terms of endearment like “baby” and “sweetie” without batting an eye, and have a roundabout way of delivering bad or unsavory news to soften the blow. I feel like generally, those in the South are a bit more comforting and personable in our intrapersonal communication, and that’s not common around the world.
This past weekend, I traveled to Scotland with some friends. I had a great time and am so grateful to have had an opportunity to experience this wonderful country. The people are just a tad bit more gruff than I’m used to. The streets are very busy, but unlike London where people easily navigate around obstacles, they’re more inclined to push through. A greeting in public businesses or spaces is less common, and they talk very bluntly. My friends and I found a lovely hostel to stay at for a fair price, and unfortunately we encountered issues with all of us in our accommodations. Due to booking issues, half of us were asked to find other housing for our trip. As we tried to reason with the staff about our situation (we were checking in at 4 pm on a Friday during the weekend of a marathon, we knew there would be no other spaces available elsewhere) we were consistently turned down. We maintained a cool head, but it felt like the staff was getting progressively more upset with us. As we turned away to figure out our new situation, two strangers weighed in and essentially told us that our unwillingness to just go was considered rude. At the time, I thought they were fully out of line, but looking back I can see where they were coming from.
The hotel staff are part of a culture that is to the point and honest, and it being confronted by our almost “sweet talking” was an affront to this culture. In America, it’s common to be able to talk your way into a more favorable situation with a positive attitude, but this simply doesn’t apply everywhere. I learned that nobody has an obligation to give me what I want just because I’m nice, or talk to them on a more personal level. The culture dictates the attitudes, and this attitude isn’t applicable here.
With this lesson learned, my friends and I figured out a plan B and were able to proceed with our weekend. Everything after this was smooth sailing, and the country is so beautiful! I can’t wait to visit again someday.