Newhaverin Leith and life

27Aug/111

Over-expressive, over-confident and over here

Honest, straightforward, hard working and ambitious or rude, obnoxious, a parody and kissing ass? North Americans, what with their straight talking, openness and positivity, seem to really make some Brits bristle. Before you read any further there's a caveat: this post is full of broadbrushing.

As an American living and working in Scotland for a decade now, I've had some pretty uncomfortable moments because of the way I express myself. I'm from the West Coast. Everyone is an armchair psychologist and everyone wants to hug and these are things I carry with me though after 10 years of strange looks and some actual negative physical reactions, I've had to dial it down. No more hugs but I'll still probably ask you, 'How does that make you feel?' and don't ask me how you look in that unless you're prepared for a pretty in depth answer.  These are things that, on the whole in my experience, don't mean I'll enter into the same type of conversation that I would expect from people from my part of the world if I'm offered a conversation at all.

I have a number of North American friends living here and we share the same tales of woe. Professional misunderstandings that lead to seriously ridiculous or hurtful situations, people taking offence at something we'd never register as an issue, inadvertently making people uncomfortable with a level of openness that seems standard to us and on and on and on.

But what's the problem? Is it the speaker or the listener? Interpretation is a problem, especially if negative interpretations are not talked about or questioned. So tell me how you feel. Let's share and maybe after we work it out I'll give you a hug and tell you how awesome you are.

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  1. Are you drunk? 😉

    Brits are typically more reserved than N.American’s. In fact, probably more reserved than most countries! We hug our teddies, not other people.


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