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Fellow Sexuals

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ryn2

(...and I feel like that’s actually changed quite a bit over the course of my lifetime, but when I mention that people fall back on “of course it went over better when you were a kid; immaturity, remember?”)

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Telecaster68
3 minutes ago, ryn2 said:

Yeah, that’s pretty much the opposite where I live...  here it’s “you know, *you* may think you’re funny but you’re actually an a**hole.”

If you complain about sarcasm here, most people would consider you're the pompous, humourless arsehole. The socially acceptable response is to out-sarc/irony them. It's also politer, because it's more entertaining for everyone else.

 

(NB spelling of 'arse')

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ryn2
1 minute ago, Telecaster68 said:

That the two things will necessarily correlate? Aren't they both just about looking past the surface meaning of a phrase and considering wider knowledge of the person and the world when considering what meaning they intend?

The context is different, though.  When the emphasis is on expressing what you mean and on taking people at face value, searching for a deeper meaning is considered meddling and not being truthful is considered deserving what you get.

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Telecaster68
2 minutes ago, ryn2 said:

When the emphasis is on expressing what you mean and on taking people at face value, searching for a deeper meaning is considered meddling and not being truthful is considered deserving what you get.

Searching for a deeper meaning would be 'being thoughtful' over here. It's saying 'I accept that you're trying to not embarrass or inconvenience me, but really, it's fine, and I care enough to actually engage my brain and think about you more deeply'.

 

Weirdly, taking someone at their word could be seen as being deliberately obtuse because you're refusing to see what's clearly the case, and possibly passive aggressive because you're choosing to ignore their subtext to make some point of your own, yet to be determined.

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ryn2

What it also sets up here is the sense that *not* taking someone at face value is insulting them.  So, if someone says they don’t care that you forgot their birthday and you keep pushing on it they’re likely to flare up and snap at you.

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ryn2
1 minute ago, Telecaster68 said:

Searching for a deeper meaning would be considered, well, considerate over here. It's saying 'I accept that you're trying to not embarrass or inconvenience me, but really, it's fine, and I care enough to actually engage my brain and think about you more deeply'.

Yeah, here it says “I don’t trust you to tell me what’s going on, I think you don’t trust me enough to be honest, and/or I know you better than you know yourself and am therefore going to insist on thinking and speaking for you.”

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Telecaster68

Actually, it's the 'being thoughtful' thing that's the nub of the issue, now I think of it.

 

To Brits, taking someone's words at face value and ignoring any context, history or wider social norms is being inconsiderate, because you're just not thinking of them as a person. You're not engaging your brain and empathy.

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Telecaster68
2 minutes ago, ryn2 said:

I think you don’t trust me enough to be honest

But most people aren't honest, most of the time, in normal social interactions. 'How are you?' 'I'm fine'; 'Have a nice day!'; 'I'm so glad you came!'.

 

We just take that assumption of polite dishonesty a bit further. After all, it's so much more upsetting to be told your partner's really upset about forgetting their birthday, so assume even greater lengths to protect their feelings.

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ryn2

...whereas here *not* taking them at their word is considered presumptive and rude (i.e., inconsiderate)... and being someone who consistently doesn’t say what they mean is considered manipulative, petty, and childish.

 

Suddenly this is looking a lot more like where we get stuck than the whole words/actions thing is...

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Telecaster68
1 minute ago, ryn2 said:

...whereas here *not* taking them at their word is considered presumptive and rude (i.e., inconsiderate)... and being someone who consistently doesn’t say what they mean is considered manipulative, petty, and childish.

 

Suddenly this is looking a lot more like where we get stuck than the whole words/actions thing is...

Yeah, no wonder I don't trust words.

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Telecaster68

I think Brits use words to lubricate social situations, rather than actually express anything very much.

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ryn2
Just now, Telecaster68 said:

But most people aren't honest, most of the time, in normal social interactions. 'How are you?' 'I'm fine'; 'Have a nice day!'; 'I'm so glad you came!'.

This varies from region to region in the US and causes some problems here as well.  In the region where I live you see the “fine” (versus “OMG horrible you won’t believe what just happened!!”) but beyond that it’s frowned upon to be “fake nice” and better to say nothing.  In some other regions what we consider “fake nice” (“you’re welcome any time!” when you’re actually not at all) is considered polite and mandatory.

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Telecaster68

Direct vs implied meanings is also a big AS vs NT difference too. Not that I'm saying you're AS, it's just another parallel.

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Telecaster68
1 minute ago, ryn2 said:

“fake nice” (“you’re welcome any time!” when you’re actually not at all) is considered polite and mandatory

The only time fake nice isn't mandatory in the UK is if you can leverage the negativity into making yourself the butt of humour about it.

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ryn2
2 minutes ago, Telecaster68 said:

I think Brits use words to lubricate social situations, rather than actually express anything very much.

There’s some degree of that here but the assumption is that it’s for strangers, customers, and the like and that you won’t do it to/with friends (especially, but often family as well).

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ryn2
1 minute ago, Telecaster68 said:

Direct vs implied meanings is also a big AS vs NT difference too. Not that I'm saying you're AS, it's just another parallel.

Agreed but it also sounds like it’s just differently accepted from a cultural perspective.

 

I’m not AS and am actually very quick at implied meanings but it’s a skill that’s broadly derided here.

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ryn2
8 minutes ago, Telecaster68 said:

The only time fake nice isn't mandatory in the UK is if you can leverage the negativity into making yourself the butt of humour about it.

Whereas in this area there’s a ton of emphasis on 1) polite means “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” and 2) any remaining “fake nice” is a façade you drop for your friends - the people you’re real to.

 

There are other parts of the country where it’s very different, and that causes some interesting issues.  If someone from here says “this was so much fun!  Any time you’re in town, you’re welcome to stay with me,” they won’t be surprised if you want to stay with them next time (and may even be a bit peeved if you book a hotel).  A few states south it’s the mandatory social nicety one says after any visit (which leads to people from here being surprised when the next visit seems to come as a shock/not be entirely genuinely received).

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anisotrophic

I think I'll disagree a little, and noting that my partner is English and I am American. In the US, when giving feedback, one selects from a scale ranging from "OK" (worst, meeting some bare minimum to be acceptable without all-out rejection) to "awesome" (it's actually good). That is, in practice the most *negative* end of the scale is "OK".

(Expand it to say "It's OK, I guess" if you really want to express disappointment! Might not even be "OK"!)

I think the US has one form of fake politeness, in the form of adjectival inflation. My spouse got a haircut once, many years ago. His English father said, "not bad", and I said "it looks amazing!" -- his father then laughed at the UK/US contrast. :)

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Telecaster68

'It looks amazing' is actually ambiguous, when you think about it. 

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ryn2
3 minutes ago, anisotropic said:

I think the US has one form of fake politeness, in the form of adjectival inflation.

Agreed, there’s some of that where I live as well (although polite displeasure is more likely to be “it was all right,” delivered with a shrug; “okay” here usually means it was actually okay).

 

Here in this area we usually go the “find something truthful (but trivial)” route, though:  if you like the new haircut, it’s “OMG your hair looks fantastic”; if you don’t, it’s “you got your hair cut!” or “I love the look of balayage!”

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Sally

This has been a lovely little interlude of semantics.  (That is meant sincerely, not snarkily.)  

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Telecaster68
10 minutes ago, ryn2 said:

Agreed, there’s some of that where I live as well (although polite displeasure is more likely to be “it was all right,” delivered with a shrug; “okay” here usually means it was actually okay).

 

Here in this area we usually go the “find something truthful (but trivial)” route, though:  if you like the new haircut, it’s “OMG your hair looks fantastic”; if you don’t, it’s “you got your hair cut!” or “I love the look of balayage!”

Typical polite Brit haircut responses:

 

'You got your ears lowered' 

 

'Tell me who did it, I'll get them beaten up' 

 

'Oh. Haircut.'

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ryn2

We say the ears lowered thing here too but normally as a joke to guys who got their hair cut much shorter than it was before.  I used to hear it lot more often... it’s mostly the old folks who say it now.

 

We always get warned that people outside the US do not agree with - and have no patience with hearing - the idea that there are significant cultural differences from region to region across the country but when it comes to this sort of thing there decidedly are...

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Telecaster68

We always get warned that people outside the US do not agree with - and have no patience with hearing - the idea that there are significant cultural differences from region to region across the country but when it comes to this sort of thing there decidedly are...

 

Warned? People warn about this stuff? 

 

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ryn2
1 minute ago, Telecaster68 said:

 Warned? People warn about this stuff? 

 

Oh yeah!

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Telecaster68

How on earth is that even A Thing? 

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ryn2

From international business etiquette training to tumblr and lots of places in between.  :D

 

I live in an area where - because people move and speak quickly, get right to the point “to not waste people’s time,” and tend to be fairly direct - everyone has the general reputation for being rude and abrasive.  I worked a long time for a global company (based here) and we were forever getting reminded that we had to carefully monitor ourselves.

 

Things like “you may think you have a lot in common culturally with the people of Toronto and southern Ontario because the area is nearby, but they don’t see it that way.  They are much more like the Ohio valley, and view us the same way they view Montreal,” followed by a long list of ways to be more appropriately polite when dealing with our Toronto-area collegues.

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Telecaster68

Blimey. And I thought you Canadians were all so nice

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ryn2

Well, that was the point... the Canadians were nicer than we come across so we were getting anti-rudeness training.

 

Toronto is so close and yet so far, they wanted to be sure we knew.

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Serran

My wife is from England, but if I say nothing is wrong she takes me at my word. And if it turns out something really is wrong, she gets hurt I lied. There is no "polite" brushing off. She can't read my mind and she expects me to tell her what I really feel/think. I can't read hers so I expect her to tell me what she feels/thinks. *shrug* So if I said to her I don't mind you forgot my birthday, she'd accept that. If I really was upset and brushed it off, she'd say I lied and she has trouble trusting me. 

 

Of course, we have known kind of inside joke responses like "How are you feeling?" "Fine" - we both know fine means not OK, cause it's a joke that women always say fine (so playing into the gender stereotype) when something is wrong. So, we try to avoid fine when we actually are fine. And if the other won't talk, we just leave it alone til the person with the issue decides to come out with it. 

 

I dunno. We prefer actually communicating our feelings and wants/needs than playing some weird game where you pretend everything is OK. But, she's overly blunt and overly open so tends to work out better to be honest than whatever social games you'd play with a stranger (those sorts of social games with a partner would become tiring). 

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