George Bernard Shaw described Britain and America as “two countries divided by a single language.” Common roots and, above all, common language does not necessarily grant common culture. Subtle cultural differences have a much more significant impact on British-US communication than the relatively minor linguistic ones.

According to book by Kate Fox, most Britons dislike “hard sell” in advertising and marketing, which they associate with Americans. She also writes that the English, unlike Americans, distrust salespeople and do not express their complaints directly.

Privacy is highly valued by the British, who can be shocked by Americans´ apparent wish to talk to everyone they meet. Americans often comment on the indirectness of British communication. It would save ourselves and everybody else a great deal of trouble, if the British were a bit more direct and upfront. For the British, American directness is seen as a sign of rudeness and of a lack of education.

Being asked about his own experience, intercultural expert Patrick Schmidt explains, “When I started to work in Germany, I found most of my colleagues were British. Since we spoke the same language, I assumed that it would be easy to connect with them. Yet, with time, I noticed there were subtle differences in their communication style that surprised me. For example, it never occurred to me that an accent could give an indication that you went to an exclusive “public” school and not to a state school. My American upbringing of  “all men are equal” made me blind to class status. It took me several years to start to understand the British mindset.”

This example might well illustrate what G.B.Shaw meant with his quote.

* Převzato z časopisu Business Spotlight