British Etiquette that Americans Should Pay Attention To!

For whatever reason, I have always had a real fascination for all things UK. Okay, it's probably closer to an obsession, if we're being honest. That is almost everything but the food. I just can't do kidney or blood pudding. I just can't.

I think the feeling is quite mutual for many British people. They can't get enough of American television shows and movies and love to come over and visit sunny California, where they KNOW it will be sunny and warm. Apparently England's weather is all sorts of unpredictable, and it's usually not very pleasant.

I came across this really fun YouTube channel with these two British twenty-somethings that are best friends, a guy and a girl, and they talk a ton about America and the UK and make fun of some of the misperceptions and differences in our cultures and whatnot. It's all just a spot of good fun (*said of course in my best British accent).

One of the videos that I thought that was the most interesting was these two were talking about some of the weird things that are different when they visit the US and go out to dinner. A couple of these things are absolutely appalling and offensive to them!

1: Clearing Dishes Before Everyone is Done Eating.

The first thing that is just abhorrent to British folks is how strange and offensive it is to them if they are visiting a restaurant in the US and the server clears away the dishes as people finish. This is so rude to them! They believe the dishes should not be cleared away until every single person is done eating, otherwise that person will feel very rushed and weird, like everyone is watching them, waiting for them to finish. While the American view is that the waiter is clearing the dishes so you are not sitting there with a dirty dish right in your face, in your way while you are trying to having a lovely conversation with your honey.

I'll give this one to the Brits. I have never really thought about this too much, but my husband almost always finishes before me so they clear his plate and I feel kind of weird being the only one eating, all the attention focused on me and my plate and finishing quickly so we can get on with our night.

2. Saying Please.

British people take politeness very seriously and they say please a ton, possibly even too much. While Americans might smile big and seem very polite with their body language while they ask their server to bring them some ketchup, they often don't actually use the word.

I'll give this one to the Brits as well. We really should all be saying the actual word. Polite manners are always good.

3. Extreme Friendliness to Strangers.

In general, Americans are far friendlier to strangers. It is very likely that if you are on a train or a plane ride that you might start chit-chatting with your neighbor. While if your neighbor starting talking to you on the Tube in London, you might think they are "mental"! British people find it strange, and possibly even a little disingenuous how friendly American waiters are.

This one goes to the Americans. It's always good to be warm and friendly, in my opinion. I love chatting and getting to know people so I definitely like how Americans are in this regard :)

4. How to Hold Your Fork and Knife.

British people often think Americans look like toddlers with cutting just a few bites at a time, then switching your fork back over to the right hand and setting your knife down. They think of this as "zig-zagging" and it seems very childish to them. They keep their knife in their right hand and fork in the left the entire meal, only putting it down to blot with a napkin or get a drink. They use their knives so much, you might even find them using it to eat hamburger and fries or a salad.

5. Volume Levels During Meals.

In general, one word British people would use for Americans is loud. Now in our defense, scientifically speaking, with an American accent and the way we talk, it opens our mouth up bigger with the way we pronunciate words, so it makes our volume louder naturally. So take that, Brits! We are not trying to be rude obnoxious! Anatomically, we are just louder!

But regardless, they love to judge the loud Americans :) They think it is super rude to talk loud enough at a restaurant that it could interfere with the conversation at the next table over. Wouldn't it be just hilarious to take your British friend to restaurant like, say, Texas Roadhouse, where it is just obnoxiously loud in general, peanut shells flying about under your feet, and ridiculously loud country music twanging over the speakers? That would be hilarious and worth it to see the horror on their face!

6. Super Late Dinner Parties.

We get right down to business in America and have dinner parties earlier to get home at a decent hour. Usually they will start around 6 or 7 and guests will be home by 10 or 11 o'clock. Of course this is probably because we have just been so obnoxiously loud carrying about our day that by the time it is 10 or 11 o'clock, our voices are completely gone and it's time to go home and rest our weary throats to wake up and start another obnoxiously loud day :)

When watching Downton Abbey I was shocked with they would have a dinner party and they would prepare another light little dinner for the guests around 11 o'clock, to give them the energy to carry on and party for another couple hours. Madness, I tell you! We need our sleep!

Have you been to England and did you notice any of these differences? Or notice any of your own differences? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


    Mary Richardson
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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