The English Communication Secret I Learned The Painful Way

There’s a communication secret I promised to tell you last time. In fact, I learned this the hard way. I didn’t know about it when I first visited England. Even though I read lots of books, passed language exams with excellent results but still, nobody really prepared me for real-life communication with the English.

It’s not that I couldn’t speak – I could speak very well but I was not aware of a crucial English communication principle. Let me show it to you through a personal story.

I met an English friend, and I stayed at his place for a few days. He aske me if I’m going to an event that was the subject of buzz for a few days in London. I said: “Well, not really. I think most people there will be rather stuffy and pretentious and I’m not really into that kind of atmosphere.”

At least that’s what I heard about that particular event and I wasn’t really interested to go. I just wanted to do some sightseeing in London. My acquaintance just replied: “Yeah, very true. Very true.

Later I learned that my host would attend the event because he’s a member of the host organization. Oouch! That’s really embarrassing. I should’ve known better.

Of course, we talked things over and we’ve developed a very good friendship since. I usually clear the air with everyone and embarrassment never holds me back from setting things straight.

But in any case, you need to know one thing about England: the so-called simulation of etiquette. I talk more about this in the Metaphor Mastery System but in a nutshell:

It means English people often simulate interest when they’re not interested, they invite you for a coffee when actually they don’t mean to, or they agree with your opinion when actually they couldn’t disagree more. It’s all because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. That’s a very important cultural norm in England: don’t hurt anyone’s feelings.

Just think about my friend. I (accidentally and unknowingly) offended the organization that he was a member of. He didn’t start arguing with me and didn’t express even the slightest disagreement. Not a single word. He just said: that’s very true.

Imagine someone criticizes the company you work for. Unless you hate that company, you probably wouldn’t just say: It’s very true.

Keep in mind that the English (and Americans to some degree) usually simulate more than what they actually mean. All this to protect your feelings, so to speak. If you want to be fluent in English, and also “culturally” fluent, then I urge you to check out this special opportunity.