"Give us some space :-)" Top 5 Page for this destination England Local Custom Tip by toonsarah

England Local Customs: 129 reviews and 170 photos

  London sunset
by toonsarah

The English have a reputation for reserve, and although with our friends we can be very affectionate, and physical gestures and contact are becoming more “the norm”, we are certainly slower than many races to get to that point and can seem very reticent to engage when you first meet us. We can be very protective of our personal space, so you should try not to stand too close to people when you talk to them (easier said than done on a crowded train of course, and the rule disappears completely on the tube in the London rush hour!)

While on the subject of public transport, people tend to avoid making eye contact with strangers or talking to them. Most people either read or look towards the ground slightly rather than at peoples’ faces. People in England find it uncomfortable if they feel as though someone is watching them. Having said that, even the smallest crisis, such as a delay to the train, will get people talking, and in the north of the country there is a certain ease with strangers that is lacking in the south.

In the English tradition, most people shake hands when they meet for the first time or in a formal situation, but unlike some other countries, friends do not usually greet each other this way unless they haven’t seen each other for a while or are perhaps meeting to mark a celebration – a hand-shake is a usual form of congratulation as well as greeting. Good friends, especially girls, will sometimes kiss each other on the cheek to say hello, goodbye or thank you, and in some professions, such as the media or advertising, this is considered acceptable even at work. If in doubt, hang back and follow the lead of others in the group.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 8, 2009
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Comments (1)

  • briantravelman's Profile Photo
    Aug 15, 2014 at 5:55 PM

    Really? The ones I've met have been really friendly, and talkative. I met an English counselor at my college, and once met an English punk chick, and these 3 blokes from Manchester, and they were all really cheerful, funny, and talkative. The punk chick asked me to take her picture, than waved to us as she was driving away. And the 3 blokes from Manchester asked me directions to the beach, than engaged us in a conversation. We were making jokes about eachother, and laughing the whole time. They even called us Yanks. LOL
    I was told that they act differently, when they are abroad, and I see now from your statement, that this might be true.
    Whatever. I had really fun experiences with them, and they were much friendlier than most strangers I've met. English people are awsome!

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