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25 Things British Say vs What They Actually Mean (That You Never Knew)

25 Things British Say vs What They Actually Mean (That You Never Knew)

British politeness isn’t alway so polite. We Americans tend to think of Brits, as a quaint and utterly charming people. While many enjoy British humor from Monty Python to Hugh Laurie (yep the mean guy who played House got his start in comedy). Yet, somehow, Americans find a way to forget the British style of dry humor when face-to-face.

1. I Hear What You Say. . .

end

    What Americans Think It Means: I agree.

    What The British Really Mean: I could not possibly disagree more. This discussion is over.

    Talk about your misunderstandings. Our neighbors ‘across the pond’ are subtly trying to tell you to hush.

    2. With The Greatest Respect. . .

    What Americans Think It Means: He/she respects what I have to say.

    What The British Really Mean: You’re an idiot.

    Said, of course, in a really nice way. Nevertheless, the Brit absolutely thinks you couldn’t be more wrong.

    3. That’s A Brave Proposal. . .

    facepalm

      What Americans Think It Means: How courageous of me.

      What The British Really Mean: You are insane.

      Again, nicely put. But does not change the fact, in the Brit’s mind anyway that you’ve gone and lost your marbles.

      4. I was disappointed in that. . .

      What Americans Think It Means: He/she was disappointed.

      What The British Really Mean: I am incredibly annoyed.

      There is a chasm of difference between disappointed and annoyance. Whatever just happened, don’t let it happen again!

      5. Very Interesting. . .

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      facepalm

        What Americans Think It Means: The topic of discussion is interesting.

        What The British Really Mean: This is a completely nonsensical discussion.

        Take the hint and change the subject.

        6. I’ll Bear It In Mind. . .

        What Americans Think It Means: I’ve just made an excellent point.

        What The British Really Mean: I’ve forgotten the idea already.

        The British are only kindly trying to tell you that a change of subject is desperately in order.

        7. I’m Sure It’s My Fault. . .

        shrug

          What Americans Think It Means: Why are they blaming themselves?

          What The British Really Mean: It’s your fault.

          May as well drop it and let bygones be bygones.

          8. You Must Come For Dinner. . .

          What Americans Think It Means: I got an invitation!

          What The British Really Mean: There’s  no way in the world I would have you over for dinner.

          The British motto should become, ‘kill them with kindness.’ The politeness is uncanny and gets to be unnerving.

          9. Excuse Me, Sorry, Is Anyone Sitting Here?

          What Americans Think It Means: A polite excuse.

          What The British Really Mean: You have less than 5 seconds to move your purse.

          The British are not well known for their patience.

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           10. I Almost Agree. . .

          What Americans Think It Means: I almost have him/her convinced.

          What The British Really Mean: I completely disagree.

          Time to change the subject, once more. Especially in light of how kind the British person is acting.

          11. I Only Have A Few Comments. . .

          What Americans Think It Means: I did a great job on this paper.

          What The British Really Mean: This entire paper must be rewritten.

          There are some Americans who can get snobbish about writing errors.  Nothing like a person in the ‘mother tongue’ telling you it is time for a do-over.

          12. Not To Worry. . .

          What Americans Think It Means: I have no reason to worry.

          What The British Really Mean: You have every reason in the world to worry.

          When this phrase is used it is certainly time to worry as something is not quite as it should be.

          13. Sorry. . .

          What Americans Think It Means: I really do apologize.

          What The British Really Mean: I was just being polite.

          This word is used often by the British, Americans just need to lighten up.

          14. Bit Wet Out There. . .

          What Americans Think It Means: It’s sprinkling.

          What The British Really Mean: It’s pouring.

          The British are brilliant in understating the problem at hand.

          15. Right Then, I Suppose I Really Should Start Thinking About Possibly Making A Move.

          What Americans Think It Means: ?

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          What The British Really Mean: Good-bye. I’m off.

          Unless the American is quite familiar with their British chum, this answer could ruin a relationship.

          16. It’s Fine.

          What Americans Think It Means: It’s fine.

          What The British Really Mean: It can’t possibly get any worse, but I know it’s going to.

          Pay attention to the tone here.  Was the phrase said with clinched teeth. Yes? Then there is a problem at hand to solve.

          17. A Bit Of A Pickle. . .

          What Americans Think It Means:  All we have to do is find the solution

          What The British Really Mean: We’re all gonna die.

          The British form of introducing dooms day destruction into  the discussion.

          18. Not Too Bad, Actually. . .

          What Americans Think It Means: I’m fine.

          What The British Really Mean: I feel fantastic.

          19. Honestly, It Doesn’t Matter.

          What Americans Think It Means: It’s ok.

          What The British Really Mean: It matters more than anything.

          Now is the time to ask intrusive questions to discover what exactly matters.

          20. You’ve Caught The Sun.

          What Americans Think It Means: ?

          What The British Really Mean: You’re sun burned.

          Sometimes the British speaker will communicate so obliquely you don’t know what’s going on.

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          21. It’s A Bit Dear. . .

          What Americans Think It Means:  It’s adorable.

          What The British Really Mean: It’s too expensive.

          22. That’s Certainly One Way Of Looking At It.

          What Americans Think It Means: Their listening to my point of view.

          What The British Really Mean:  That is absolutely the wrong way to look at it.

          Trust me, change the topic.

          23. I Might Join You Later.

          What Americans Think It Means: I look forward to seeing you later.

          What The British Really Mean: Even if the house were on fire, I won’t be joining you.

          Perhaps the British person you know is simply too tired and did not wish to be rude.

          24. Perfect.

          What Americans Think It Means: Perfect.

          What The British Really Mean: It certainly is not perfect.

          Brits aren’t the only ones to ‘turn a phrase’ as it were. Americans did the same with words like ‘bad’ being interpreted as excellent.

          25. Could We Consider Some Other Options?

          What Americans Think It Means:  Still undecided.

          What The British Really Mean:  I hate your idea.

          Maybe, it’s little more than a restaurant that has been suggested. Either way it’s time to change the subject.

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          Last Updated on July 10, 2020

          How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

          How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

          We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

          We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

          So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

          Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

          What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

          Boundaries are limits

          —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

          Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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          Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

          Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

          Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

          How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

          Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

          1. Self-Awareness Comes First

          Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

          You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

          To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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          You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

          • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
          • When do you feel disrespected?
          • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
          • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
          • When do you want to be alone?
          • How much space do you need?

          You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

          2. Clear Communication Is Essential

          Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

          Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

          3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

          Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

          That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

          Sample language:

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          • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
          • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
          • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
          • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
          • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
          • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
          • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

          Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

          4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

          Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

          Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

          Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

          We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

          It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

          It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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          Final Thoughts

          Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

          Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

          Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

          The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

          Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

          Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

          They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

          Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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