The title of this post is a classic British-ism, and I think it’s one that is particularly good when it comes to advice to expats. If I had to summarize my experiences as a nearly 3-year resident of Britain, particularly as concerns my job, it would be this, to note this difference in attitude between my British work colleagues and American colleagues in previous jobs. I have mentioned before that the locals do not seem to have any experience in the American art of “venting“. I have been surprised on a number of occasions how the things I’ve said when “venting” have come back to me, perhaps not to “haunt” me per se, but certainly to make me aware that my toss-aside comments have been taken seriously and noted in some large record of my time spent working in England. And I’m not sure how to fix this one. I would never advise a young colleague not to “vent” about their frustrations and experiences, but I would certainly advise him or her that these “vents” will remain on their record and be taken seriously in a way that I would not have expected based on my prior work experiences in America.
I’m not quite sure what the problem is. I don’t know if my colleagues bristle at the implied criticism at the way things are done here, or if my speaking up is generally considered to be “too much” … I do know that as a personal foible I tend to relate too much detail about things when confronted with general assemblies, but I am interested in the fact that these details are apparently retained in some master list of things I have said. Regardless, it does create a situation where I try to watch every word I utter, sometimes with great personal difficulty as my typical “get it out there” behavior is suppressed. It’s one of the many and varied, albeit interesting, culture differences that I could only define as “subtle” and not something I expected to experience on my transition from US to UK life.