10 Things That Americans Don’t Realize are Offensive to Brits

The two finger salute is not a peace sign to Brits. (JamesPants)

We may have hard shells, but Brits are a squishy, sensitive bunch underneath. Say or do the wrong thing, and we will get the hump. The following howlers are guaranteed to set us off.

Not offering to buy a round
The practice of getting the drinks in, with every member of the group taking a turn, is standard British pub etiquette. Anyone not partaking is silently deemed a tight arse. Americans, however, don’t operate like this and tend to take care of themselves at the bar. Fair enough, but this kind of conduct will upset any Brit in their party.

Sticking two fingers up at someone
Handily, pointing an about-turned, erect middle digit up at an adversary means the same in both lands. But what Americans often don’t realize is that standing their index finger up next to it (a reverse peace sign) is just as insulting in the U.K. Which is to say, not very, by we still might punch you if we’re drunk.

Taking our plates away
Why oh why don’t restaurant staffers wait until EVERYONE at the table has finished before confiscating the china? America’s overly efficient crockery removal system makes British diners feel either judged for speed-eating (me) or like they’re taking up the table for too long (everyone else).

Talking in the cinema
This is baffling to me. I get that kids the world over talk through films and generally make it their business to ruin the experience for anyone old enough to have rogue hairs growing in unmentionable places. But the grownups too? Only in America.

Not making introductions
I think I finally understand why Americans rarely remember to introduce me to their friends at parties; I’m supposed to be doing it myself. But, like most Brits, I hate this system because talking to strangers without a facilitator gives me a stomach ache and hives.

Money Talk
Americans can linger on the subject for hours without feeling uncomfortable. For Brits, meanwhile, talking about how much we make is unthinkable – only marginally less so than discussing our feelings.

Therapy Talk
There are probably no more than five or six Brits alive today who are willing to admit to having been “in treatment.” Americans, on the other hand, think nothing of starting a sentence, “So, my therapist says…” Talk like this in British company and we’ll scarper like antelope at a convention for big cats with appetite control issues.

Describing something as “quite” good
Using “quite” to mean “very” is an English language anachronism that’s thriving in the U.S. A British friend recently told me about the time his American partner joined him for a family Christmas back home. Thinking she was offering up high praise, she managed to upset her U.K. hosts by describing dinner as “quite good.” To their ears, “quite” in this context detracted from the “good”: the meal was passable but could have been better.

Complaining
Brits love to grumble retrospectively but rarely do so in the moment, because that would mean putting someone out and causing a scene. For instance, I’m much more comfortable just leaving that lump of raw, salmonella-oozing chicken on my plate. But beware: if this kind of thing happens when you’re dining with an American, they will most likely speak up on your behalf and not understand why you find this humiliating.

Over-politeness
We Brits find put-on congeniality, especially in stores, deeply irritating. It’s not that I want shop assistants to be actively rude. But neither do I want to expend energy responding to someone who’s been paid to ask, “How are you today?” in the style of an over-zealous children’s TV presenter when I’m busy trying to work out which knickers in Gap are the least likely to ride up my tush.

See also: 10 ways for Brits to offend Americans without knowing it

What have we missed? Tell us below:

See more:
7 British Food Habits Americans Will Never Understand
6 American Food Habits Brits Will Never Understand
6 British Things Americans Admire

  • LO_TS

    Totally agree about clearing the plates away – it’s like they pounce for the moment you put your fork down.

  • Stephen Tilley

    Making the fact that an ancestor immigrated from Britain/Europe sound like an achievement.

    Most Britons are aware many Americans are descended from Brits, Irish or members of other nations who could not cope with the complexities of living on the eastern side of the Atlantic. So Britons know that they left to find a simpler place to live. Consequently it is galling to find that this failure is presented as a triumph on a par with the Israelites arriving at their promised land with the implication that those of us who stayed behind are second -rate at best.

    • LuVerne

      Here’s another way to look at it Stephen…Maybe we’re proud of the fact that we’re descended from the other side of the pond and long to identify with our heritage.

      • http://www.smittenbybritain.com/ SmittenbyBritain

        I’ve never understood this criticism myself. Britons should be glad that we revere our (and their) heritage so much. Or maybe a better appreciation of their own history and accomplishments is in order. Lots (but not all) Brits seem to be very down on their nation these days. Besides that it may be a case of wanting to forget that Americans are part of their history too, sort of like the Black Sheep of the family, and when we boast about our heritage it’s a reminder that we’re actually related.

    • J Conarty

      I find your perception of this to be quite strange. It seems as though you’re leaving logic behind in an attempt to deride Americans with pride in their heritage.

      Whether or not their families have left Europe has little to do with their home country being too complex. You speak of simplicity without realising that your explanation is, in itself, incredibly simplistic. A more complex understanding would show that families left Europe for a myriad of reasons.

      I think it’s fantastic when anyone respects their ancestors and the nations from which they came.

  • Matty

    Ditto point 3 and make that bar staff whipping glasses away when youre not finished with still a good amount some drink in it

    • Loopy

      Haha, maybe that’s why my American husband is always clearing away my cup of tea while there’s still some left in it. Drives me spare it does.

  • http://www.facebook.com/graeme.c.robinson Graeme Robinson

    The take the plate away thing I will never get used to, but I have to admit, I’m coming around to the fake politeness in shops. Its preferable to the sincere indifference and surliness of the average Brit shop assistant. I really, really wish I could learn to complain like an American.

    • Swift view

      I dislike all eye contact in America particularly from shop girls. I like to remind them that they are servants and need to look at their shoes when they talk. Also all this inane chatter! All they need to say is ‘Yes Sir’ and “Thank you” Keep the banter for the scullery or the snug of the local public House

      • Gina Gregoire

        Cute! That is a fine example of sarcasm.

  • Pauline Wiles

    Ooh, I could write an essay on response to this!
    Plates: trust me, you do eventually get used to it and it really isn’t a big deal.

    Introductions: have never had a problem with this. Most of my American friends are way better at remembering names than I am, and they’re charmingly good at introducing me.
    Complaining: I’m almost certain I grew up in a passive-aggressive household, where, rather than speak up promptly, politely and with respect, we allowed our piece of raw chicken to ruin the entire meal, while we sat and grumbled quietly. It’s so much better to complain quickly & nicely, and be done with it.
    Politeness in shops: How about treating these shop workers as human beings? Smile and ask them how they are too? I’ve had many surprised responses from that, as if nobody else bothers to ask them. It doesn’t cost me anything to greet them back.
    So, if you’re not getting it by now, I’m feeling quite defensive for my adopted homeland on most of these points. But, if supermarkets could ~please~ refrain from packing my groceries and let me do it myself, that would be just swell.

    • kwirkykirky

      agree about treating people in shops more politely Americans are often really rude to them, btw the word swell is a bit outdated even in America love, sorry

    • Amanda

      I always tell the grocery clerks that I will bag my own groceries. I hate the way they only put 1 item in a plastic bag.

      • Dr.B.

        Take it one step further and bring your own bag! :)

        • http://www.facebook.com/gbsergeant Glenn B Sergeánt

          Amen

      • swift view

        You must get some funny looks when you say “I’ll bag my own groceries” It is a very suggestive innuendo in the South.

    • Uk babe

      I agree with the packing bags in stores but i disagree with collecting plates in a restaurant, they should wait, it makes the last person eating feel uncomfortable.

      • Anonyfriend

        The plate collection thing is usually a corporate rule that you get in trouble for NOT doing if you are waiting tables.

      • Clint Jurgens

        And I’m one of those classless Americans who would like all those empty plates taken out of my way. I find it annoying when a server leaves the dishes cluttering up the table, which is often too small to accommodate everything in the first place. And I’m very happy to sit contentedly while waiting for others to finish. I think most people are astute enough to tell that I’m finished eating even if the dishes are left sitting.

      • Swift view

        A simple rule of thumb in a restaurant is that everyone is supposed to eat at the same pace and finish at the same time. If you happen to finish eating ahead of your fellow diners then it is polite to excuse yourself and take your plate to the kitchen.
        It saves embarrassment for the dinner party .

        • http://www.facebook.com/thesaven Saven Roybal

          I think if my fellow diner got up and took their plate to the kitchen, not only would the staff feel like they’d all done something wrong and the manager come to find out why they (appeared) so mad, but I would feel infinitely more awkward.

      • Jose from laramie

        Well excuse me! I never realized that Lord and Lady Manners were so used to fine dining. Next time I wait on a table of Limeys at Dennys I will curtsy as I take their orders

        • Pain

          lol,I understand I don’t care what happens when I am done eating I check around done or not and don’t care if my plates are picked up or not. I will take my napkins and throw aways and put them on the plate cleaning off any others on the table and putting the full plate of trash on the top of the ones I empties. I will place my forks knives and spoons into the drinking class I have on the table and set them askide. This lets the sever know I am done and easier on them as they only have to dump the trase from the plate anddrop the glass of silverware into the dishwashers basket. I base my tip only on how long I sit with a empty glass durring my meal. but also base the time on how many people I see in the area they are waiting on. Had a waitress talking on the payphone once and I got up walked behind the counter filled my drink for the second time sat down and contenued eating. I never said a word to her but when I left my tip went with me.

    • Molly

      I respond to shop employees too! Sure, they’re paid to be polite and to offer their assistance to us, but that doesn’t mean that they’re androids who are programed to manipulate us with kindness. I’ve had conversations about all sorts of things with employees – from discussing Doctor Who with a cashier and bagger to having an hour-long conversation with a telemarketer, none of which had anything to do with why she called! Most recently I got in a discussion about local yoga studios with a utility worker. Just yesterday I had some time to kill and nothing to do so I walked to a local shop and asked if the owner wanted any help. She had me tagging new items while we chatted; it was nice. It’s a friendly place here, and I wouldn’t want to change that!

  • Guest

    I can agree with most of these, but the buying a round on is way off the mark. Of course things vary greatly depending where in America you are from, but here in the Northeast it’s considered common courtesy to buy a round of drinks for the group.

    • a dude of dudes

      buying a round is regional at best.

      • http://www.facebook.com/gbsergeant Glenn B Sergeánt

        Buying a round is mandatory at best…at least where I am from. New Orleans

    • murica!

      This varies with what sort of group you are out with – I’ve lived all over the US and it’s hit or miss.

    • Swift View

      Buying rounds works fine when a group meets at the same time, drink about the same amount and the round makes a ’round. I am usually in company were some barely drink, or are driving or join and leave at differnt times, or drink at a differnet pace.
      Buying in rounds worked for ‘lads’ going to the pub together but is it appropriate for mature social drinkers?

    • Pain

      I don’t drink for starters but the way I look at it, if I did and me and some friends decided to go drinking they can buy there own drink’s evem the first one. Some people just act so childish about the dumbest things. Someone gets pissy slap them in the back of the head and move on.

    • http://profiles.google.com/frozen01 Renee Lebbing

      Buying rounds really wouldn’t be fair in my group. There’s too many people, and if everyone were to take turns buying a round then we would all be broke and dead from alcohol poisoning!
      I’ve noticed the English (the only British group I have much experience with) can drink like all get out whereas I’m done after three drinks max. Maybe that has something to do with it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/pinkziab Tara Ann LeGates

    I can agree with most of these, but the bit on buying a round is way off the mark. Of course things vary greatly depending where in America you are from, but here in the Northeast it’s considered common courtesy to buy a round of drinks for the group, in turn. Then again, maybe I just run in more civilized social circles. :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jana-Lauderbaugh/1100263406 Jana Lauderbaugh

      This isn’t protocol on the West Coast. You buy your own when you’re with friends.

  • http://twitter.com/BritTexan Sheila K

    Ha! The quite thing is a good one. American hubby and I created our own jokey sliding scale for that issue almost as soon as we met.
    If something’s not good – just OK we’ll say, “I think it’s quite good, in an English way”, if it’s somewhere around good to pretty good it’s “quite good, in an ‘off the coast of Ireland’, ‘off the coast of Greenland’, or ‘off the coast of Newfoundland’ or just ‘a Transatlantic’ way”; then if it’s really very good, “I think it’s quite good, in an American way”.
    OK, yes I know that’s all a bit sad, but it avoids confusion and ten years later it still quite amuses us, in an off the coast of Ireland kind of way. :oD

    • Sharon

      The “quite” thing is confusing to me. My mother was British, and I spent most of my childhood with my British cousins. “Quite” is similar to “very,” at least in my family…but then, we’re working class and not well-to-do folks.

      • a dude of dudes

        quite good in america is better than OK, but just slightly.

        • pain

          I have never once heard anyone say anything other than ” Thank you for dinner” to me someone who would sit and over think what someone else thought of the food they fed them may need to work on getting a little more backbone. If you don’t like it don’t eat it. I have eaten food by some people that just had no flavor but I keep my opinion to myself. They were good enough to feed you.

      • Neuromancer

        Yes, it is a synonym for very in the US at least (I can’t speak for the UK). To me however it has always had the caveat of unexpectedness. As in “We went to the young couples home, and it was their first time making food for others. The dinner was quite good, and I asked for seconds.”

    • a dude of dudes

      i don’t understand why saying levels of goodness of something is bad. if i want to lie to someone ill say that’s awesome! id rather not be lied too! :)

  • http://twitter.com/Nergy David Alexander

    First experience with an American in a shop type scenario was with an old uni friend. Went up to the bar and the guy behind it was bouncing around all over the place and enthusiastically turned and pointed to me and said ‘Hello sir how are you today what can I get you today?’ I placed my order and turned to my friend and asked if this guy was wanting employee of the month award or something. One puzzled look later I was informed this was the norm and I shoud just get used to it. Give me the miserable old bugger serving me with a manner that fails to hide his loathing for me and everything I stand for in the Dog and Duck anyday. Fake joy at being at work honks me right off and fake caring about my state of mind is even worse.

    • Autumn Banter

      Maybe it wasn’t fake? Some people are just happy, nice people? When I am nice to someone at work – it’s not fake. I lived in the UK for several years and most people just seem miserable.

    • a dude of dudes

      the majority of americans who are like that are completely genuine. contrary to popular belief we are a nice bunch, so ive been told by people visiting here amazed how friendly everyone is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cymru.llewellyn Melissa Powell Ortega

    So what does “quite” actually mean in the U.K.? Does it simply mean sufficent?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10727922 Jessica Farias

      After reading this, I got the idea that Brits use “quite good” to mean “fine” or “okay,” but I’m not certain.

    • hotgeek88

      I’d like to know this too. Quite is definitely a part of my vocabulary.

      • Guest

        Quite good is basically being polite about something that’s not that good at all. It’s saying something is average really. “You look quite nice” is definitely not the way to woo a lady. Equally, if someone says you’ve done “quite well” with a report, it’s not necessarily something to be overly proud of.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pete-Grant/1299920530 Pete Grant

      “Quite good” is often used for “Ok, but nothing special”, or even in a sarcastic way to infer that it was far from good. Often faint praise at best!

      • Evelyn

        Depends a bit on which word is stressed. If ‘quite’ is stressed it’s definitely uncomplimentary.
        If it’s the ‘good’ that’s stressed then it’s an expression of surpise that you’ve done so well.

    • http://www.smittenbybritain.com/ SmittenbyBritain

      Quite would mean something like “just a little” or “just a bit.” So if you said “That was quite good.” what you’re saying is it was a little good, nothing special.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1452340078 Cara Catanzaro Rule

    A lot of these require further explanation.

    • expatmum

      Word count.

  • Lola in the Sun

    Must be a group of super snobby Brits. I’ve been married to a Brit for well on 15 years and socialized with Brits for more than 30. Have never not bought rounds when it was my turn, cleared plates quickly or complained constantly. Funny how the other list is just a little snippet of slights, but nothing to make our friends across the pond sound like social pariahs. How on Earth do you put up with or, or rather, why? We sound ghastly! Oh heavens, ghastly sounds so British, did I steal another one of your words? Like ‘quite’?

    • Fred

      Buying rounds is well-established ettiquette in the UK between a group of friends. Nothing false in the advertising here. Maybe your British friends have become Americanized. Nothing snobby, either.

      • http://www.facebook.com/thesaven Saven Roybal

        Lola said they, “Have never not bought rounds when it was my turn”, that means that he, like most Americans, does pay their round when it’s their turn. Also, don’t believe the crud from the list. In America, it’s also custom to buy “rounds” for your friends, but here it’s in the form of either a pitcher of beer (buyer’s choice) or a run a the bar. As for the other crazy things… Look up a list some time of what Americans find the rudest behaviors and you’ll find many of these same things.

  • expatmum

    I understand the whole thing about “table turnover” in the USA and I’m often very appreciative of being able to have a meal in thirty minutes or less, but when I want to linger and chat after dinner, it is pretty irritating to feel rushed. As well as trying to take your plate when you’re not even finished, I find the constant “Can I get you anything else” and other subtle hints to pay and leave, a little rude when it’s obvious that I would like to wind down after a meal.

    • Former AmericanExpatinLondon

      And you need to have a dirty plate in front of you in order to do so?

      • expatmum

        No. I said “as well as trying to take your plate” and then mentioned the subtle hints to leave.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jana-Lauderbaugh/1100263406 Jana Lauderbaugh

          No, you’re missing the hint. The server is *trying* to get you something else – either a drink, or dessert. The goal is to get you to spend more money so the 20% tip will be higher. Of course once they hear your British accent, they may give up on you as a typically stingy Brit who rants and raves about the American tipping system. When in Rome!

          • expatmum

            I don’t think I’ve ever complained about the tipping system here. In fact, I was explaining earlier why it’s important to tip wait staff because of the minimum wage situation. You must be thinking about someone else, or more likely, just applying a stereotype.

    • k

      Which is fine, except a lot of people hang around for an insane amount of time, meaning less customers for a waiter who only had three tables to serve, meaning less money for them. Keep that in mind the next time you want to have a two hour conversation after dinner.

      • expatmum

        Sadly I don’t have the luxury of a two hour after dinner chat so you can sleep soundly.

  • Visitor

    Even more confusing is when you’re an American staying with a couple of British friends and they know the American understanding of “quite” and adjust their own way of speaking it; makes for some very confusing conversation. “Wait, do you mean that MY way or YOUR way?”
    (I didn’t know the thing about buying rounds as I don’t spend much time in pubs. Now I feel bad for every drink they bought me- I thought they were just being overly gracious hosts!)

  • http://www.facebook.com/kaiprice Kai Alexis Price

    So when John Lennon famously flashed the peace sign with his hand, which meaning did he intend?

    • Anne

      he meant peace….its when you put two fingers up the other way around it means F*** off…It doesn’t get used any more that I know of.. Most people will
      just give you the finger….

      • Polly

        I don’t – Vex me & you get the full force of ‘V’ heading upwards…..More ladylike :)

    • Beavis

      No, the rude one is backwards – palm facing owner. Peace sign is palm/fingers facing out.

  • Allison

    Talking in the cinema

    I don’t this to be characteristically American. This happens in every country in which I have visited/lived. Get your facts straight.

  • http://twitter.com/ZombiePrepNet Zombie Prep Network

    American’s don’t talk in theaters, some Americans talk in theaters, and most of us find it as annoying as you do.

    • Cindy Steinman

      Agree! If I’m in a theater with someone who’s talking in anything except the briefest, quietest whisper, I will give them a look. If that doesn’t work, they can expect popcorn thrown at them. If that doesn’t work, I will ask the manager to remove them. It is completely unacceptable to be so selfish as to ruin the movie for everyone. I don’t tolerate kids talking at movies, either, unless it’s a matinee. If you bring your child to an evening movie and he can’t be quiet, take him out.

      • Swift view

        Was that you throwing pop corn at me? I was going to complain to the management that you were too quiet. But I say if you want to just sit there and not contribute then your lose not mine.

        • Abe Linkun

          I’m taking this as a joke, if so, it’s a good one. :)

          If not, next time you want to contribute, write the screen play or direct the movie, you know, things that are done before the movie is released. :)

    • Chris

      Not only is talking in the theater just as rude to us as to the British for adults, it is also considered an adult’s responsibility to keep their kids quiet too.

      • T Ruth

        Most of these things aren’t actually “British” or “American.” This article is intended to incite reaction, not to actually inform. For example, if you’re an American in Britain and you flash the peace sign, they’ll absolutely understand what you mean and are fine with it. I’ve done it–nobody cares. It’s the same with most of this stuff. American culture is widespread enough that people everywhere know we use the peace sign frequently. Also, the sign he’s talking about is generally made by pointing the hand the other way, with the palm and hand facing the body.

    • swift view

      In America it is considerd polite to talk in a movie to explain what is happening or about to happen. It is particularly useful in a foreign film with subtitles to read the dialogue for the benefit of anyone who has trouble reading. The best is when the whole theater talks the lines in a funny french accent.
      In America it is considered disrespectful to be silent in a cinema

      • Sabrina W

        I disagree. I find it very rude when people are talking in the theater, and I’ve lived in America all of my (admittedly short) life.

      • http://profiles.google.com/frozen01 Renee Lebbing

        Must be regional. Here, we NEVER talk during a movie unless the nearest movie watcher is out of ear range of a whisper. Likewise, if you missed something or can’t keep up its actually embarrassing to admit that, especially in the middle of the movie! Just Google it later :)

      • EJ

        NOT true. This is in no way considered polite. I will ask them to be quiet myself a few times, usually ending with STFU, before I get the manager. To say it is disrespectful to be silent in a cinema in America is BS – unless you are at Rocky Horror. The only people who seem to routinely chatter during a movie are groups of unruly teenagers, whose parents have obviously just drop them at the movies, rather than teach them how to behave properly. I am the parent of two teens myself. They, and their friends, do not behave this way. I know this because I have been deemed a “cool mom”, and I am often “allowed” to accompany them on a trip to the cinema. However, I don’t think that an occasional whisper is out of line.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1112764270 Lydia Keller Beam

        FALSE. Every person I know loathes it when people talk in the theatre. If you’re under the impression it’s polite, then you’ve probably spent a lot of your life being hated by every other movie-goer in the room.

      • RJ

        Pretty sure this is a joke…;)

      • http://www.facebook.com/thesaven Saven Roybal

        I swear to God I took your comment seriously for a moment! I think I was just about on my 4th paragraph telling you off before I noticed. LoL +1 for Slytherin

    • http://www.smittenbybritain.com/ SmittenbyBritain

      Agreed!

    • dd wilson

      Only the blacks talk in theatres, and they’ll shoot you if you ask them to stop.

      • cjjohnson

        now that’s offensive and untrue. I’ve had to deal with the annoyance of movie talkers of all races, and the shooting comment…really racist

        • T Ruth

          It is racist. Also, it expresses an absolutely true sentiment. After living in New York for many years, I can testify that black people do seem to be louder than other races when in the movie theater. I know somebody’s about to jump in and say I’m a racist and this is terrible etc., but I’m just speaking from experience. And I’ve had many, many experiences to confirm this. I’m not saying ALL black people are loud at movie theaters, just that I stopped going to certain theaters because I knew the people would be louder, and those people were often black. No judgment or anything–just what I noticed.

    • Birdie

      After reading the comments about it being rude to talk in theatres I feel like a particularly bad person. My dad or I will often strike up long hushed debates about the plot or relations of the characters while in a cinema. We do make sure to never get above stage whisper however. I can agree that the loud teens sitting in the back or the whining baby are always a downer when watching a movie.

      • Lavina Lavina

        Don’t feel bad I talk at the movies too. Nobody has shushed me yet so I must be pretty quiet about it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=516799752 facebook-516799752

    Just an FYI: MOST adult Americans find talking in the movies rude as well.

    I knew most of these, actually all. But my dad was from Glasgow so…

    I’ve also yet to have the groups I’ve been out with by a round whenever I’ve been in the UK. Maybe I need different friends and family…

  • Fred

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/fstorr/5230946140/

    … and this is what you get ‘disguised’ as a pint in the USA. Yet another reason for praising English pubs. The head doesn’t count for crying out loud.

  • http://marketisdale.net/ Mark Tisdale

    Safe to say some of these things drive us batty, too. The rush to clear the table is one for me as well. Not for feelings of being ineffective at eating but because the implication is get out and pay up, I have another round of warm bodies behind you. Given that our servers live on low wages and tips, I tend to understand why, though.

    Talking in theaters really depends on where you are. I’ve been in plenty of quiet sane theaters here in the states, and I’ve been in some where the experience evolved to participatory theater of some sort. Rest assured, some of us here find this just as irritating as you do!

    No interest in discussing money either. Can barely find the stomach to do it with close family! Some of us here were taught as you apparently were that it’s vulgar.

    The point being that it’s hard to paint with a brush stroke any population of people!

  • a dude of dudes

    as an american there are a couple things on this list ive found annoying all my life.

    1. servers who take a way plates when i still have food has always made me feel judged and rushed to leave the establishment.

    2. faux politeness has always got my goat and makes me resentful of any business i frequent. i will tell you that americans are taught to say thank you since child hood to strangers in public. so the majority of the politeness is genuine.

    3. talking in movies is not the norm. if you are in america please notify the ushers and they can take care of the problem people without confrontation.

    4. complaining (not annoying) is part of american consumer society, we demand good customer service and if we don’t receive what we are paying for we will say something. it is taught at a young age to not be taken advantage of by a business.

    • Swift view

      I was raised in the South and it was considerd inpolite to keep eating when others have finished their food. When the first person has cleaned their plate everyone else should put down their folk. As for lingering ove a cup of coffe for a ‘chat’ ! It is a restaurant meant for eating food not chitter-chatter. If you want a conversation you shoould go to the cinema.

      • Pain

        I was raised and live as far south as you can. If you pay to eat a meal eat a meal if I go with 6 other people and hey finish before me I am going to eat what I pay for and I don’t care if anyone likes it or not they can kiss my @@@ lol. that is just stupid logic for anyone to place out there. I was in the army and still eat as I had to in situations where they food is gone in less than 3 minutes sometimes. This being said if you lived with me your stupidity would have caused you to starve a long time ago.

      • http://profiles.google.com/frozen01 Renee Lebbing

        I was also raised in the South and I’ve never heard this. It is fine to continue eating (so long and you don’t draw it out uncomfortably long) and chatting is a-okay (again, so long as you aren’t there overly long, especially if the restaurant is busy. If you’re the only occupied table in the place no one is going to care).

  • PKB

    Usually I enjoy your commentary and assessments. This entire list feels remarkably petty and small minded. Why not just laugh and get over yourselves???

    • Pain

      100% agree

  • jumbybird

    I’m American and I find all of these as offensive as you do… except the fingers thing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ukelaine Elaine Saunders

    You left out when you meet an American, a total stranger and for some reason it’s perfectly ok to start “Trying” to copy your accent ? 99.99% of the time, they sound like they’ve escaped from the “Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang” movie and to me, it’s Rude. I don’t even KNOW this person ? I can just imagine doing that in England to someone with a foreign accent, where you could quite easily get your teeth shoved down your throat :)

    • expatmum

      I had that only yesterday when I took my vacuum cleaner in to be fixed. It was funny in a way, but I was also startled that they (note – two of them) felt it OK to do this.

      • http://www.smittenbybritain.com/ SmittenbyBritain

        I hate it when Oprah mocks a guest’s accent.

    • Cindy Steinman

      I hope you read this and pass it on to any British friends. Accents are easy to pick up. It isn’t a matter of trying to copy an accent but more of an instinct as natural as breathing. There are myriad American accents, and we temporarily pick those up a bit when traveling around the country. I live in California and travelled to Tennessee and Mississippi last year. While there, I picked up a bit of a drawl. I wasn’t trying; it just happened. But nobody in Tennessee felt insulted or amused by it. Sociologists would say it’s an instinct to help us be accepted.

    • Korax

      It never struck me that imitating your accent might be a ‘sincere form of flattery’. In the UK it’s just considered rude mockery.

      Interesting!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ukelaine Elaine Saunders

    Also, not so offending as can be annoying. You meet an American and they immediately tell you about how they are part English. So, you ask how’s that ? “Well, my mum’s Grandmother’s sister’s husband was from England” !! and then, some go on to ask “What part of England are you from?” I normally just say just outside London, but, instead of leaving it at that, they then ask “Oh, what part ?” So, I tell them the town (99.99% have never heard of it) and then see this blank look on their faces, as they’ve never heard of it. WHY do they ask ???

    • UK Babe

      Agree!!!

    • expatmum

      Having said that, every so often I tell people where I’m from and they’ve actually been there. It makes for great conversation thereafter.

    • http://www.smittenbybritain.com/ SmittenbyBritain

      In the cases when I’ve asked the majority of the time I know the town or at least the area they say they are from. From there I’m able to carrying on a conversation, usually referring to things I know about the area. I’m sure it gets old being asked all the time but when I lived in the UK and whenever I traveled to the UK I got the same questions. Look at it this way…at least when you tell someone you’re English you get a positive response. I’m often tempted to say I’m Canadian because I get tired of having to answer for the sins of G.W. Bush, our government’s policies and why only 40% of us have passports. I was asked that three times on our last fortnight holiday in the UK.

  • Scott

    Most of the things you have said above are as annoying and insulting to Americans as to Brits. I think you’re hanging out with some “quite” annoying people and should choose a better crowd.

  • Samuel Lawson

    “Talking in the cinema” – The cinema in Glasgow has far louder talkers than I’ve yet experienced in the U.S.

  • KatieSoukup

    Talking in movies is my biggest pet peeve. But i was in London to see a musical and was appalled that people talked and ATE so much, especially after intermission when they got their food. Annoying.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/TKay-Michel/100000385414603 TKay Michel

    Actually, most Americans I know hate overly friendly salespeople, too. Don’t know why they do it. I always thought they were checking to make sure you’re not shoplifting.

    • http://www.smittenbybritain.com/ SmittenbyBritain

      I agree. When I’m shopping I pretty much want to be left alone but inevitably when I do need help I can’t find anyone.

  • Josh

    The thing I find off about this article is the generalization in some cases, such as talking in the theater. The assumption that all Americans are rude and obnoxious is only true for a portion of the population, but you are generalizing us as having no manners, and the whole of us having the bad manners that a dreaded few do.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jana-Lauderbaugh/1100263406 Jana Lauderbaugh

      The author notices people continue to talk in the theatre (theater in the U.S.) because the author doesn’t know how to complain like an American. As others have stated, the author can complain to an usher, throw popcorn, shush them, etc. Personally I just turn around and note that I didn’t pay $18.00 to listen to them talk, I paid it to listen to the actors talk, so pipe down. Usually does the trick.

  • Fiona Wilson

    Pet peave- American referring to woman present as “she”. Very rude to a Brit and in Britain would get quick comeback “”She” is the cat’s mother”. We give the person present respect by saying their “christian” (or first)name or more formal address. On the subject of names when referring to famous woman on broadcast news or in newspapers we use their title not their last name. For example, instead of “Clinton” we say “the Secretary of State” or “Mrs Clinton”, ” Miss Hilton” not “Hilton” . Even in these days of equality a little politeness sounds a lot better than a broadcaster using the last name like a convicted felon.

    • expatmum

      I think we Brits have to get over this one. Yes, it draws sharp British intakes of breath to say “she” in front of the person, but it is simply not offensive to most Americans.

      • http://www.smittenbybritain.com/ SmittenbyBritain

        I agree Toni. It’s not something that has ever been considered offensive and if you mentioned it to an American they would be completely perplexed.

    • Pain

      You may want to join the military or even read some name tags before you place last name usage as a felon there bud. If the word ” bud” offends bits let me know I will send them some tissues to dry there eyes.

  • neil d

    eh…..why are people taking this list seriously…perhaps there is a number 11 here..something like ..the lack of being able to giggle at yourself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1434412067 Dean Borok

    You want to send a Briton ballistic? Ask him if he’s Australian!

  • http://twitter.com/Tennyo Amanda

    A couple of these are lame because they are not what Americans do at all. Talking in theaters? Rude and disrespectful no matter who you are. I don’t understand how these are American characteristics. Talking in a theater here is no more acceptable here than in Britain.

    Also, not introducing your friends who don’t know each to each other? I always introduce my friends because I know how awkward it can be if you are not introduced. Again, how is this something that every American supposedly does?

  • Carolyn

    The fact that we exist at all is offensive to some Brits.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dean-SK/100003715102344 Dean SK

    I speak several languages and lucky me, I had lived in many countries with people from different cultures. Deep inside, we are all the same. I don’t try to impress anyone or want to be in their shoes either. Just be who I am and have a nice feeling about their behaviors and everything is OK. Some how the system doesn’t work with my wife though. LOL.

    • a dude of dudes

      1 love!

  • AK

    As far as differences in use for the word “quite” I find that rather ironic since it seems that we Americans might be the ones using it correctly according to your example (if we go by this dictionary).

    I do agree that some people forget to introduce one another. I think parents and teachers are not taking the time to teach manners or etiquette as much as they would have in the past. I think technology created a gap where social graces would normally be practiced. Things move fast here. It’s all abbreviated and awkward. They may not know how to introduce someone unless there’s instructions Online.

    According to Oxford American Dictionary:

    quite |kwīt|adverb [usu. as submodifier ]1 to the utmost or most absoluteextent or degree; absolutely; completely : it’s quite out of the question | are you quite certain about this? | this is quite a different problem| I quite agree | quite frankly, I don’t blame you.• very; really (used as an intensifier) : “You’ve no intention of coming back?” “I’m quite sorry, but no, I have not.”2 to a certain or fairly significant extent or degree; fairly : it’s quite warm outside | I was quite embarrassed, actually | she did quite well at school | he’s quite an attractive man.exclamation (also quite so) Brit.expressing agreement with orunderstanding of a remark or statement : “I don’t want to talkabout that now.” “Quite.”

    • n0aaa

      For a good explanation of differences in AmE and BrE “quite” see http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=28787909&postID=5736927680621011139
      The Lynneguist Blog by Lynne Murphy. Ciao – Jan

    • Simon

      If we go by the dictionary you’ve quoted above, both definitions are correct. One can be to the “utmost absolute extent”, or it can mean “fairly”.

      It’s used differently in both countries.

      I really don’t think ‘quite’ is in the top 10 of offensiveness though! What is the author on about?!

  • Virginairess

    !. Pub etiquette—now that there are more pubs springing up the US may begin this gentlemanly custom. On the frontier, you might not have wanted to be so clubby with just anyone, whereas the intrinsic localness of pubs for a thousand years fostered generous neighborly behavior. If I walk into a British pub i should steel myself for possible shunning behavior even if I offer to buy a drink for the person next to me. It takes a little time to get accepted,

    2. It is always good to get current on national and local hand gestures. Most ladies wouldn’t need to know at all, but if you are addressed by a hand gesture, it is wise to know what it means.

    3. If you tell the waiter politely not to remove your plate “just yet”, he will understand that you want your fellow diners to be comfortable. This is a case of busy restaurants pushing, is by no means universal or irreversible.

    4. Many people are nervous at parties, and this seems to affect the area of the brain governing name recollection. I often fake it by saying the name I remember and turning to the one I don’t with a (not vulgar) hand gesture and smile. They then simply say their name, and I am off the hook. I do try though. Parties in general give me hives.

    5, 6 and 7. Money talk and therapy talk are irritatingly rude anywhere accept for business meetings or group therapy. Only the self-absorbed indulge, and the most comic example I can remember was provided by a Brit.

    8. Quite. Well, this person wants to be pleasing or perceived as cosmopolitan but hasn’t read enough English literature. As it is our native language, we should read English literature. Quite has nuance beyond your example, so context is everything as you imply.

    9. Complaining when it won’t improve anything (especially when atmosphere and mood are most important) is often defensive. Sometimes people just grow out of this. It is accepted too often here because social climbing and consequent self-conciousness make people want to point out that they deserve better, or perhaps that they know things should be done in a certain way. Social climbing is so difficult elsewhere this sort of thing is rarer. But not in France, of course.

    10. Probably a third of Americans are as disgusted as you are by all this smarmy charm. However, I can vividly remember enduring gratuitous anti-Yank remarks from shopkeepers and help in Britain. Once a pharmacist bellowed across an entire room, when I timidly asked for a contact lens sterilizing appliance in preference to the liquid product, that all Yanks were ponces who thought they were allergic to everything. I went back to the Connaught and asked the floor ” nanny” to procure the item for me, which he did. Something similar happened in a lingerie shop, with a young assistant again sharing with the other customers my comic terminology for brassiere embellishments. On the whole, because I too dislike public complaining and fusses, oversharing, lack of comfortable friendly manners, and talking in the cinema( I suppose you’ve never been to the Shanghai Opera, where people have constant phone conversations), I even prefer over – friendliness in a shop to outright aggression.

    11. I’ll bet another thing Brits dislike is people who are long-winded in emails, so add that to your next list, and thanks for giving me the opportunity to amuse myself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1080780923 Samuel William Barnett

    First of all, I love your country, people and culture. In fact, I would love to live there. However, I think I can hear violins playing in the distance. If these are the top ten things Brits consider offensive by Americans, then in my estimation, you have it pretty good. And by the way, not returning under cooked chicken at a restaurant is just plain dumb and irresponsible. Why would you risk your health or, at the very least, pay for something that is unacceptable? Finally, I would gladly by a round at the pub but would definitely not use two fingers to order the second pints! :)

  • chris

    This American right here is with the Brits on that whole over-politeness thing. Especially the way people ask “how are you doing?” when they don’t really want to know. I have always found it all very annoying.

  • Monica

    I disagree about a few items.

    First, people I go to bars with will buy rounds. That is not unusual here. It’s all in the manners of those you keep company with.

    Second, talking in the cinema is wrong in the US just as much as it is in the UK.

    Third, Americans will introduce their friends to each other. It’s rude not to. If your friends don’t do it, then they need some lessons in manners.

    Fourth, It’s considered inappropriate to talk about how much you make. Also, not everyone talks about money, nor enjoys listening to someone go on and on about it.

    Fifth, whoever spoke out about your bad chicken should know better. Again, you need to check your friends. Their manners are not representative of the US culture.

    As for complaining outright, I can’t tell you how many Brits saw fit to put down Americans to my face. You have no idea how insulting that was.

  • paul harris

    I think you should have added, “(American to Brit) I can’t understand you. Would you please say that in English so I can understand you. Is English your second language ?”

  • Archie

    My favourite was trying to keep a straight face in a business meeting in California when someone said “That could come back and bite you in the fanny.”

  • Not that different.

    I’ve been to movies in Britian, guess what? There were people talking! A lot. What a shock that your generalizations (sorry, generalisations) are often so completely wrong and slightly offensive.

  • http://twitter.com/elliemaega Ellen Lambert

    how about ‘Do you speak English?’…

  • http://twitter.com/elliemaega Ellen Lambert

    Oh wait…I meant ‘Do you speak American?’…

  • a dude of dudes

    what is funny about this is, all the americans commenting are proving this article wrong on so many levels by acting how we act all he time, friendly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dwciv Daniel Whitney Conway IV

    i imagine this was written by an oversensative brit….

  • http://twitter.com/mstarr1188 Megan

    This could be the lamest and most inaccurate list I have ever read. Since when do all Americans talk in movie theaters? I have rarely been to movies in the US where other people were chatting throughout the movie. And Americans are some of the most generous people when it comes to buying rounds of beer. You’re clearly hanging out with the wrong crowd…or perhaps you’re just drowning in your sorrows because no one finds you worthy enough to purchase you a round of beer.

    After reading a few contributions to BBC by this person, I have found most of her accusations and comparisons sad and pathetic. Even where she was trying to compliment the US… there was a clear underlying sarcasm in her tone.

    Quite frankly, I’d love to hear what an American would have to write about the UK. But then again, most of us don’t have enough hate in our blood towards another country to write such articles. Nor do we even spend our days caring about finding reasons to point out cultural differences. We’ll leave that up to the bitter Brits.

    • http://profiles.google.com/frozen01 Renee Lebbing

      “But then again, most of us don’t have enough hate in our blood towards another country to write such articles.”
      Maybe not towards the UK, Israel, or Canada, but otherwise this is not precisely true.

  • http://twitter.com/mstarr1188 Megan

    I found this list to be the lamest and most inaccurate thing I’ve ever read. I have only once been in a movie theater in American where I was distracted by people talking and it was a movie that was mostly teenagers and the ushers shut them up fast. Also…Americans are some of the most friendly when it comes to buying rounds of drinks. Obviously you’re hanging out with the wrong crew since they find you completely unworthy of buying a drink for. But after reading many of your BBC contributions, I’m pretty certain you’d be the last person on this planet I’d offer to buy a drink for, too.

    I find it interesting that you can’t find much positivity in your life while living in a new land. I’m an American living in Norway and I experience cultural differences every single day of my life. It keeps me on my toes. And it is just that…cultural DIFFERENCES. Not rights or wrongs. And please don’t even begin to tell people you do write positive thoughts on your life in the USA because I’ve read your other pathetic BBC contributions and your positivity is led with a masked, condescending undertone in each and every article. Are you really that bitter towards the US?? We don’t really seem to care much about Brits but they seem to care an awfully lot about us. Or shall I say ‘quite’ a lot? ;)

    Enjoy your time in the US. If you allow it to do so…it will get better and guess what?!?! Most of us putting on that fake, nice facade? We are generally pretty sincere.

  • Bannister

    I’m an American, planning a trip to England to visit some of the places where my ancestors lived prior to 1611. Should I not mention my family connection when I visit, say Berkeley Castle, when the family connection is the main reason for being there?

    • Stephen Watts

      Brits love talking about family connections – it’s what we do all the time. That and the weather makes our world go round!

      • Bannister

        Thanks for some perspective. Cheers!

    • swift view

      I would be very wary about mentioning your ancestors particuarly in Berkley. The Bannisters were serving wenches who driven out of Albion for removing the plates too early.

  • http://www.facebook.com/earleg Earle Greene

    I’m an American and I also find false-congeniality annoying.

  • Stephen Watts

    I absolutely love the one about therapy talk. How true, how funny and how on the spot – well done (at least that’s what my own therapist advised me to say, thinking of which maybe I need to make another appointment…)

  • Mandy

    Another thing i see a lot of is asking you how the food is every time your eating when no one is there it’s like could i eat in peace after ask me.Also about in the movie’s some people don’t really know what being silent is i mean really i payed for a movie not for you to talk.Another thing that gets on my nervous is when people speak very loudly when your beside them.Oh and this one other thing when they stand in your way looking at you and when your in the store you got to move for them it’s kinda rude so thats about it.I could say a lot more but i will not

    • MrsFizzy

      I hate the constant “You guys doin’ OK?” in a restaurant. Feels like they’re trying to hurry you along.

  • George W.

    Does any American really care what offends the Brits? Let’s face it….America rocks and the rest of the world just follows.

  • Marsden

    It’s curious that Brits think American politeness is
    fake. I suppose to a rude people, politeness
    is a foreign concept, and the genuine goodness of Americans would be alien, and thus “fake.” BTW, I lived in London for five months, where I encountered some very rude people, not just the shopkeepers.
    To be fair, however, the Brits in general are not as rude as the Germans or the Russians, but that’s setting a very low bar, indeed. So, please keep your Piers Morgans, Gordon Ramseys, and Jamie Olivers – they really are over the top. Trust me.

    Removing plates? How silly – it’s disgusting to have an empty, dirty plate on the table. No, I’ve never felt rushed, and I’m generally the last one finished eating. Another thing, the practice of seating different groups at the same table is ill-advised – I remember once enjoying a meal with a friend at the Chelsea Kitchen, when the waiter (rude, of course) seated at our table a megalomaniac holdover from the glory days of the British Empire, where she proceeded to ruin our meal. Telling my Mexican companion how to speak Spanish, indeed.

    In conclusion, I hope Americans continue to be “fake,” and if the Brits don’t like it, that’s OK with me.

    • MrsFizzy

      What’s wrong with Jamie Oliver?? :/ (can’t stand PM though). And it IS rude to clear plates before the entire table is finished. It’s designed to pressure the diners to finish up so that they can get another cover in – whether you notice or not.

    • Simon

      I don’t think we necessarily think the politeness is fake and I do think Americans can be very helpful.

      However, for some, everything is “awesome” all the time and that is just not possible!

      Also, Piers Morgan and Gordon Ramsey get network time for being ars*holes – it’s their job! They are not real people and I would not based American culture on all the countless terrible shows imported over here such as Frasier and Seinfeld!

  • kln

    Yard vs Garden-Yard in the UK refers to something covered in concrete. You can deeply offend someone-without meaning to-but exclaiming “what a nice yard!” If it has plants, it’s a garden.

  • Annie

    I am American but I am a Brit at heart. Everything I just read,that is how I feel. I do not even go to the movies anymore, people of all ages are rude, they talk or do something really rude. I am not going to spend movie for a movie when i can not enjoy it.

  • Sun Mee Tamashiro

    This is stereotypical not every body does those things. So back off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sun Mee Tamashiro

    add: “not all american does those things”

    • MrsFizzy

      It’s always like this on this blog. ;)

  • James Ritchie

    In reverse, the two-finger salute isn’t a peace sign to Americans, either. It means “victory”. The peace sign came about by reversing this sign. I seem to remember the Brits using it in WWII, as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/karatheredhead Kara Lauren

    This is why I wish I lived in England :)

  • Savannah

    Oddly enough, just as I was reading number eight my dad declared the gumbo he’d just finished to be “quite good.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/cynthia.jessup.7 Cynthia Jessup

    I’m going to marry a Brit.. :-D

  • MrsFizzy

    All of these are just matters of politeness, neither Brit- nor American-specific. Standards may have slipped more in one country than another in some respects. Only the 2-fingers and “quite” are simple ignorance of meanings. You often hear “that’s quite nice” in the UK spoken approvingly, in a way that one would not assume that the speaker means something is only so-so. I think Brits actually are E…qually guilty on that one.

  • MNbobster

    Must have been in a big city. Urbanites are annoying.

  • http://twitter.com/seriouslyyouguy you guys

    It’s an idisyncrasy, not an anachronism!

  • Swift View

    Americans and especialy New Yorkers wil will cut to the chase in a shop or deli. It is quaint and annonying when an Englander will say ‘Could I have’ the American will say ‘I will have’ not a question or asking permission.

    • Simon

      As annoying as referring to us as ‘Englander’. Even the many non-English speakers I’ve met can come up with the correct terminology.

      Asking for something nicely is just about not treating the guys in the shop like ****. I know in the states they’re paid below minimum wage and probably considered trash, but you probably wouldn’t speak like that to people in ‘professional’ roles would you?

    • jemblue

      That might be true in New York, but here in Michigan it’s perfectly normal to ask “Can I have” when ordering something.

  • Swift View

    It depends on the movie. It is common courtesy in foreign films with subtitles for people to read the lines. It helpful to anyone in the audience that cannot read. It is very usual for the entire audience to read the lines out loud in a foreign accent

  • sswift view

    In America it is considerd polite to talk in a movie to explain waaht is happening or about to happen. It is particularly useful in a foreign film with subtitles to read the dialogue for the benefit of anyone who has trouble reading. The best is when the whole theater talks the lines in a funny french accent.

    • BadTigz

      Er, no it isn’t. Now then, if you wish to explain what is happening to someone sitting next to you (who is in your party and not just some random person in the theatre), you do so quietly without annoying the you-know-what out of those unlucky patrons who might be sitting around you.

  • sswift view

    Never ask some onee from England if they have brushed their teeth. Dental hygiene is considered an American eccentricity

    • Simon

      Newsflash. We do brush our teeth, we just don’t have such a vain, plastic society where the cultural norm is to have teeth whitened beyond what is physically possible in nature. Is nice to resort to stereotypes. I could say that eating healthy food that doesn’t turn you into a balloon is considered an eccentricity in America – hmmmm that one does seem to be backed up by statistics and fact!

  • Swift view

    The English get very touchy if you remind them that if not for the Yanks they would be speaking German.

    • http://www.smittenbybritain.com/ SmittenbyBritain

      Actually if it weren’t for the Russians we would all be speaking it. The Eastern Front was decisive in determining the outcome of World War II, eventually serving as the main reason for Germany’s defeat. American and Brits provided aid for that offensive but the Russian army did the hard slogging. Go back and brush up on your history.

    • Simon

      Obviously a troll who wants feeding. Have heard this attitude before though.

      Factually at least, we know America had no interest in the war for years until the Japanese bombed the **** out of your navy. As a %age of population many countries lost a lot more men than the USA including UK. After America’s entrance into the war the war still went on for years afterwards – hardly signalling their entrance was decisive. They were decisive in ending Japanese involvement – by being the only country willing to go far enough to use atomic weapons. Britain had a number of important victories and Russian manpower was decisive in the end.

      In fact wars where America have been the main protagonists (Korea, Vietnam) – these seem to have been abject failures. Ill-equipped troops on the other sides too.

      Hope you don’t get touchy about this!

  • http://www.facebook.com/cameron.crossley Cameron Crossland

    I also have to comment on the ‘talking in the theatre’ bit… you realize that you imply that americans talk a lot during movies… the same country that has probably had more theatre shootings than anywhere else in the world, and im willing to bet most of them have been over someone talking!

  • http://www.drudgereport.com/ Strangelove

    We still do introductions in the south. Must be the Scots-Irish in us.

  • http://www.smittenbybritain.com/ SmittenbyBritain

    I agree completely agree with therapy talk and talking to Brits in general about feelings. They will very quickly and skillfully direct the conversation to more comfortable subject matter.

  • James

    Please look up the meaning of the word Quite in the English dictionary, you have got the meaning wrong Ruth.

  • http://twitter.com/KristineAz Kristine ❀♡❀♡

    I have to object about the discussing money bit. I don’t know anyone who finds talking about how much a person makes is acceptable. In varying company it can be considered insulting or bragging or invite comparisons. Salaries discussed in private between, say, a couple is fine. Stating something like, “I’m getting a raise!” is also acceptable, or even percentage of taxes being paid. But overall? Talking about money is not the accepted norm. It’s beyond tacky.

    As is talking during a movie. Awful.

  • JoelM

    I’m not the slightest bit British (I’d consider myself a typical American) and yet I feel exactly the same about all of this. I feel many of these are related to the plague of greed that’s sweeping the country. Yes, even the over-politeness, since store employees are usually only overly polite to gain more sales (and commission).

  • Jamir

    I don’t know where you’ve been, but the waiters at the restaurant should ask to take your plate, one at a time or multiple. They just want to get it out of your way instead of sitting in front of cold food the entire time.

    Not introducing someone to another person in general is rude somewhat, it’s not some cultural thing.

    Talking in the theater is rude no matter what, I rarely hear people use the word quite, and if you happen to be rude to the wrong store employee too many times, you can best believe they’ll either snap, stop helping you, or send someone else to deal with you.

  • asfdasf

    Ruth Margolis and all the content she publishes are absolutely vapid. A true idiot.

  • Pingback: 10 British Insults Americans Won’t Understand | Mind The Gap | BBC America

  • Sabrina W

    I think most of these things are annoying too, and I’m American. I’m moving to Britain. I think I’d fit in better there.

  • Lynne

    Agree about the annoying over friendly greetings. The other day I was greeted with…”How can I make you smile today?” I wanted to say, “by not saying crap like that!” but thought I’d be perceived as rude,ha,ha!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kitten3066 Christi Hulett Torres

    Not offering to buy a round: I don’t drink. If my British friends cannot respect that. Then we won’t be friends for long.
    I promise I will not stick to fingers up unless I’m ordering two of something.
    If I’m eating and you TRY to take my plate…
    DON’T EVEN THINK OF TALKING AT THE CINEMA!
    I will introduce myself and my friends.
    I have no money to talk about.
    We have to have been friends for at the minimum of 1 year and in private before we talk anything private. My business, no one else’s.
    I knew about this rule. Because it is common in Asian countries as well.
    If I have a complaint, it will be with the person I have the issue with and it will be in private.
    I don’t like being condescended to or patronized either. However, if someone asks me, “How am I?” I will be courteous and respond. As I was taught to treat others the way I want to be treated.

  • RJ

    We used to be that way about therapists…then we realized our crazy people were a lot more fun to be around when they weren’t too ashamed to get the help they needed.

  • Devon

    The introduction deal isn’t really an American thing as far as I can tell. I always make a point to introduce any guest accompanying me to a place where I know people and they don’t. If my friend neglects to introduce me, either myself or someone else will usually bring it up.

    And the movie theaters!! Oh my goodness nobody enjoys sitting through a movie and having to hear chit chat in the theater. Sometimes it can get so obnoxious that people will request a ticket refund and the talkers get removed from the theater. Some whispers throughout the film are typical in my family but always too quiet for anyone else to hear. I think this is regional anywhere. I’ve been to theaters while traveling and surprised at people talking but it is uncommon. Usually just teenagers or extremely annoying groups of entitled individuals.

  • Mr. B

    In Scotland, we were talking to a guy dressed in the full Scots kilt regalia. Wife asked what’s the pouch/purse for? Reply was that, today, it would be to carry the cell phone and maybe a handkerchief. Back in the day, some hard-tack or morsels of food, etc. Wife said, Oh, just like a fanny pack. His eyes went a little wide and he explained that he would *never* think of calling it a fanny pack and we shouldn’t either, while in Scotland. Americans can check the UrbanDictionary for ‘fanny.’

  • Scottish guy

    When are Americans going to learn there is a HUGE difference between British and English..? This only seems to apply to English people, not British.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thesaven Saven Roybal

    In America, it’s also custom to buy “rounds” for your friends, but here it’s in the form of either pitcher of beer (buyer’s choice) or a run a the bar. As for some of the other things on the list… Look up a list some time of what Americans find the rudest behaviors and you’ll find many of these same things. Although, I have to say, I know I’ve made a few good foreign friends feel awkward when I complained for them, but no one gives my friends cr@py service/food/etc and expects to get paid for it. Don’t worry though, as long as you don’t try run away, we won’t hold it against you for not have the huevos to do the same for us =)

  • jemblue

    Have to disagree about the “money talk” one – most Americans (I am one) will not discuss how much they make. One’s occupation is fair game, but income is usually too personal.

  • http://twitter.com/tokumeiyamada Tokumei Yamada

    Not offering to buy a round

    I was under the impression that the US and England were about even when it came to drinking in the culture (as opposed to, say, Scots or Irish or Japanese or Korean, who are all heavy drinking cultures) but I don’t tend to drink unless someone is making a toast.

    Sticking two fingers up at someone

    Known that for a long time. Along the same lines, the word “Fanny” is a cutesy, outdated word for bum in the US, but people from most of the rest of the English speaking world have a different meaning…

    Taking our plates away

    This bugs me, too. It’s worse when I’m told to do so to people still eating.

    Talking in the cinema

    I don’t know anyone who likes it when people do that, though I do occasionally explain something to someone next to me… I try to do it as quietly as possible. We did create MST3k, though.

    Not making introductions

    This is 50/50. I rarely introduce my friends, but a lot of people think it’s important to do so.

    Money Talk

    Yeah. This is also an age-gap thing. My parents were deeply offended when I asked how much they made. I don’t mind saying.

    Therapy Talk

    Geez… It really shouldn’t be embarrassing. My experience is that people ashamed to admit they’re getting help are those shamed by things not their own faults. For instance, in both Korea and Japan, the worst thing someone can think about someone is that they’re “crazy” meaning a lot of mental illness goes undiagnosed and untreated due to shame. Even mild developmental problems can be major issues in Korea, because school levels are based on Age rather than performance, so you could have someone in the US equivalent of 3rd grade who is academically still in 1st.

    Describing something as “quite” good

    I think this is an “affectation” because to most Americans, saying “Quite good” sound British. So, yeah, it’s someone trying (and failing, apparently) to sound British.

    Complaining

    Depending on the context, this is embarrassing for me… I hate it when my parents complain about the service at a restaurant when the servers are in ear shot…

    Over-politeness

    This is strange, because Americans tend to view Brits as being more polite, but in stores… I guess it depends on what region you’re in. In the South, particularly places like Texas, a person can get fired for not being super-friendly to customers. In California, what’s more likely is that you’re being watched to make sure you don’t shoplift.

  • A brit !!

    Im sorry who wrote this??? I have never heard such b*****s in my who life, what rubbish. More or less all of this is completely false.

    • Anonymous

      I soooo agree, who writes this stuff?

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