AEE 995: What’s Rude and What’s Not? How to Make Culture a Conversation Topic in English

culture conversations rude or not English

Are there things that people do that annoy you?

Have you ever annoyed somebody without realizing why or what you did?

Understanding what is considered to be rude across cultures can be quite confusing.

This can vary significantly by culture and so you want to be aware of what is acceptable and what is not.

We have a listener question about this topic, and you can likely relate. 

 

Hi Lindsay and Michelle!

Your podcast has been one of my favorites for more than two years. I’m so amazed that you guys always find a lot of unique topics and point of view on each episode. Can’t believe that the 1000th episode is almost there!

I have kind of a cultural question. I hear quite a few, at least for me, lip noises when listening to podcasts, not only AEE. I suppose they make the noise when they want to take a moment to show that they’re thinking but still want to go on talking. In Japanese culture, it is seen as a rude habit to make lip noise when talking to someone. People could even feel offended when a speaker in front of you does that.

Is it completely okay to make lip noises when you want to pause in the middle of the conversation in American culture? I’m super interested in the cultural differences.The noise l mentioned was, for example, the sound Michelle made around 13:55 on episode 966 when she said”And the next one we’re gonna do that can be positive or negative is, ah (noise) , ‘my goodness!'”

Hope you can tell what I meant.

Have a good one!

 

Ask Yourself If It’s Really Rude Or Just Undesirable

So the question becomes if you think lip noises are rude?

This may not be easy to classify into just one type of noise.

The one in the example was likely more of a thinking noise.

Lip noises can be rude when they come from

  • Eating: This shows bad manners and nobody wants to hear you chewing.
  • Doing it with attitude: Giving somebody a hard time about something while making the lip noise could be considered to be quite rude. 

Some people may do it while they are thinking though and not realize it.

This isn’t a rude gesture, but rather something that they do subconsciously.

 

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Be Sure You Understand How Each Culture Works

It can be fun to go through certain customs or traditions that may vary around the world.

There was a recent write up on this very subject that breaks down customs that are okay in the US but considered rude elsewhere.

You can see a review of these customs at 25 Common American Customs That Are Considered Offensive In Other Countries

Let’s take a look at a few of these that may be surprising. 

  • If you sit in back when you are taking a cab-rude in Australia , New Zealand, some other areas
  • Changing the taste and makeup of a meal with condiments-rude in Japan, Spain, France, Italy
  • Eating outside of a restaurant– rude in Japan and Rwanda
  • Being in public and blowing your nose-rude in Saudi Arabia, France, China, and other countries

Cultures vary and what is acceptable in one place may be quite different in another.

 

How Do You Handle A Potentially Rude Situation?

There will be times when somebody is rude, often without meaning to be.

You may find yourself in this situation or dealing with it from somebody else.

Knowing how to handle this type of situation is an important part of making connections and building relationships.

What to do if someone does something you aren’t sure is rude or not:

  1. Assume the best in everyone. There are so many differences around the world that it’s best not to get offended.
  2. Research-go online, ask us, and work to understand what is acceptable by culture and geographical area.
  3. Have an open conversation. If it’s someone you are close with, you can have a talk about cultural differences and take it as an opportunity to share your culture

This is how you learn and grow, so be prepared to have this conversation if you find yourself in a similar situation.

 

Takeaway

What is rude and polite varies so much around the globe.

It’s great to have open conversations about these things and to realize that someone may do something that seems rude to you but isn’t in their culture.

If someone accuses you of doing something rude, you can always say–I’m sorry, I didn’t know. In my culture it’s common to…..

Be open and learn as much as possible about others!

This is how you learn and how you make great connections too.

 

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.