February 04, 2015

Understanding the British: A mini guide for your events entry into the UK – Part 1

The word ‘Glocalization’ has been thrown around in certain circles. For those that don’t know, it’s “the practice of conducting business according to both local and global considerations”. This has been the case for many events and businesses which range from touring magicians to NFL games, all found themselves on British shores.

So with so many European and international events being held in the UK, we decided to create a mini guide for your events entry into the UK, so you don’t rub the locals the wrong way.

There’s a little more to British culture than David Beckham, Vivienne Westwood, Mick Jagger and fish & chips. We also have Blackadder, Only Fools & Horses and Fawlty Towers (I may have dated myself with the references, but you can’t whack a classic).

Yes, we complain a lot. Yes, as soon as the sun shines, we shed our clothes. However we do make a hell of a cuppa. With that being said, here’s the mini guide to British customs and behaviours that will benefit you and your next event.

Comfort is the key for the British to warm to others. This may take time, however once in the good graces, it’ll feel like a great big hug. A tip to build comfort would be sarcasm.
The British are helpful, kind-hearted, respectful and polite, so if you’re ever lost or need directions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Watch your P’s and Queues (a line of people waiting to proceed or enter)
Queues and its order should be respected. The British find it highly offensive to jump queues, we don’t queue jump out of respect for others. For example, if you cut in line at a Sainsbury’s supermarket on a Saturday afternoon, you may receive hell from other customers, as well as from the member of staff serving you. Do not be surprised if a few angry customers start ‘effing & blinding’.

You can eliminate long queues and queue jumping at your next event with our brand new entrance management mobile app Flow, and ticket box office, Europe’s first portable on-the-door sales app.

Sense of Humour
The British like to laugh. Any situation can be turned into a laugh. Whether it’s a bad day at work, non-fatal fire or if a dog bites your leg. For example, if a dog bit into your calf, many would worry about diseases and viruses and so on, our reaction would be “at least it didn’t bite anything else off, because that would have ruined everything”.

Food for thought, the British love put downs, they possess an almost reflexive reaction to an opportunity to ‘diss’, so beware. The statuesque facial reactions are a self-defense mechanism / poker face, it’s usually given at times of verbal punishment.

Faux Pax
There are many nuances within British culture. A Yorkshireman may have problems with London culture, and vice versa. But the constant is politeness – courtesy will go a long way with the Brits.

Don’t worry about all faux pas. If you accidentally offend a Brit, the casual response to an incorrect assumption would be conducted with panache, usually a stoic face accompanied by a cheeky smile. It’s our way of making the other person feel bad about the situation, which is followed by heavy sarcasm – it’s the way we roll. Apologising can make the situation worse, self-deprecating humour is the perfect reply.

We didn’t invent alcohol, however we perfected the art of drinking it. After work, at Wimbledon, Royal Ascot, a football game, a concert, or usually when the sun decides to grace us with its presence, you’re likely to see alcohol being drunk.

We love a firm handshake. Don’t forget to take part in the usual up and down pump movement as you do shake. It’s usually conducted with the right hand along with eye contact. Nobody likes sweaty palms, so make sure they aren’t.

When you see a taxis light on, it means it’s available. There’s no need to scream, shout and holler for a taxi. Simply lift your arm up and down until the cabbie spots you. Wherever possible, state the destination before you enter the taxi.

British etiquette dictates ladies enter the taxi first, with ladies having priorities over seats. This rule is quite flexible, depends on the company.

Black taxis are a British staple. While the British may not seem conversational or warm at times, British taxi drivers are some of the most conversational. The gibberish may leave you a bit mutton, their humour make the trip worthwhile.

In case you didn’t understand some of the regional slang terms used in this blog, we’ve placed their meanings below.

Whack – Commonly used in the phrase ‘you can’t whack it’, to mean ‘you can’t beat it’
Cuppa – Cup of tea
Rub – ‘Don’t rub me wrong’, to not give off a negative impression
Effing & blinding – cockney slang for swearing
Mutton – Deaf

In this part, we delved into the behaviours and attitudes of the lovely Brits. Be sure to check out Part 2 of this blog where we’ll educate the masses on regional slang terms.

Raj Jilka