Unit 4.1

In the personal and public sphere: Relations between strangers

Social conventions, behaviour and ways of greeting strangers, in public places and spaces

  • It is normal to greet people when you enter somewhere and to say goodbye when you get out.
  • British people say a lot of please and thank you. Remember to use them especially after receiving customer service.
  • A handshake is a common practice in the UK. It should be accompanied with not too long direct eye contact.
  • When meeting someone new, there is usually a hierarchy. Men should be introduced to women, juniors to elderly people and higher ranks.
  • If you are joining a queue, remember to ask where it ends and take your place at it and respect strangers in it. It’s very rude to push in queues and British are very sensitive to that.

Social conventions and ways of attracting the attention of and speaking to strangers

  • Last names and titles should be used until you are allowed to use first names.
  • Being too familiar with people you do not know much will make British people uncomfortable.
  • It is impolite to stare at somebody.
  • It is important to give other people some personal space when talking to them.
  • Speaking loudly is seen as rude, especially if it is used to interrupt someone speaking.
  • When talking to somebody that you don’t know, personal questions are seen as impolite.
    • British people especially do not like talking about earnings.
    • Questions about personal wealth should be also avoided.
  • British humour is full of sarcasm and cynicism. It is often connected to real life, it is important to remember that and to not get offended.
  • Trying to mimic the British accent can be seen as a form of mocking. Do not do it.
  • Loud criticism in public places is seen as rude just as acting loud in general.
  • British people tend to be indirect, to understand them completely you have to learn to read in between lines.
  • Elders and disabled people are being treated with high respect when you try to speak to them
More exercises