Applying Carroll’s theories to Britons, you understand why foreigners think we are repressed. Americans won’t touch strangers, the French won’t talk to them, but Brits will neither touch nor talk to them. Passport to the Pub, a semi-official guide for foreign tourists to the UK, warns: “Don’t ever introduce yourself. The ‘Hi, I’m Chuck from Alabama’ approach does not go down well in British pubs.”
Nor are Britons permitted to make eye contact: the former French prime minister Edith Cresson, disconcerted that British men didn’t look at her, estimated that one in four was homosexual. No wonder Britons drink ever-increasing amounts of alcohol. Alcohol was first distilled so that British people could reproduce.
But I suppose being a little French wouldn't hurt; I just need to get over my apprehension with small talk.
Small talk with strangers and new acquaintances drains me; it makes my head hurt. Outside, I calmly sip my wine. Inside, I'm flapping about thinking of questions to ask. That or wishing I know someone in the room. It doesn't help that I read somewhere that it may now be considered impolite if you ask questions like, "What do you do?" or "Where do you work?"
Um, so "Who are you wearing?"
On a somehow related note, here's an article listing why introverted employees make the best leaders. I'm not sure about the second point—meaningless chitchats are fun and welcome too in many circumstances— but I can definitely relate to the rest:
- They think first, talk later (In other words, they think before they speak.)
- They focus on depth. They are drawn to meaningful conversations, not superficial chitchat, and they know how to ask great questions and really listen to the answers.
- They exude calm. In times of crisis, they project a reassuring, calm confidence
- They prefer writing to talking. This comfort with the written word often helps them better articulate their positions and document their actions.
- They embrace solitude. The need to get away from people and recharge actually fuels their thinking, creativity and decision-making and, when the pressure is on, helps them be responsive, not reactive.
Full article: Don’t touch me, I’m British by Simon Kuper, Financial Times