When you live in a country you didn’t grow up in, you learn very quickly what it means to stick your foot in your mouth. It’s a lesson you learn so often you get used to the taste of your own toe jam.
Yeah, I know. Gross.
But there’s truth to it. I’ve lived in the UK for nearly ten years. My American accent is still strong, although my American family will say I’ve got a strange accent. Aside from sounding different, though, there are some very real differences.
I was faced with one of them recently, and it’s something I can’t stop thinking about.
Americans are known for being a bit over the top: super friendly, super loud. But one thing I’ve noticed in a few I’ve come across recently is how terribly patronizing they sound. (One woman in particular who came over was almost shockingly awful.) When I asked a colleague if I sounded that way, the answer was a simple, “yes”.
I admit, it stings. I’d never want to sound as patronizing and, well, bitchy, as the women I’ve come across. And given the amount of them who sound so much alike, I’m given to believe it’s a cultural thing rather than a personal thing. We don’t mean to sound like asshats, really. We’re just brought up to be extremely clear, direct, and to, perhaps, over-explain in an effort to be…extremely clear. But I’ve realized we end up putting people off, and that’s not a good thing, obviously. (See? I can’t help it. It’s just there, waiting to come out. Dear god…)
So I’m going to use this moment to apologize: if I ever sounded patronizing, overzealous, loud, confrontational, snide or anything else that remotely made anyone feel bad, I’m so, so sorry. It was never, ever, my intention to be a wankface or prat. I blame it on my cultural upbringing, and I’ll do all I can to be more Brit and less Yank.
I hope you’ll cut me some slack, and remember that I’m trying. I’m just doing it in a loud, irritating way.