The ways of greeting in England are influenced by values ​​such as courtesy, moderation and intimacy. The British are generally modest, non-abrasive people whose attitude often reflects a deep admiration for their culture. These traits translate into reserved behavior, including ways of speaking.

Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.

What are the most common greetings?

In English, there is a general rule according to which we must avoid taking false steps to which they call misstep. It is a protocol when it comes to greeting thanks to which, if we follow it, we will avoid compromising situations that could be impolite in the face of an Englishman or Englishman.



In this way, among the British the most typical way to greet each other is a simple handshake, both when introducing himself and when leaving. This gesture is often used in all kinds of contexts, from social gatherings between friends to business meetings, whose context is obviously much more formal. It is also used between men and women interchangeably. These are soft, not strong and narrow grips like the ones that Spaniards usually give.

In contexts that require more formality, it is not surprising that English expects, when it comes to a greeting between a man and a woman, that she is the one to take the first step. Also, it is important to look into the other person's eyes while we are shaking their hand. Usually, in English they say How do you do?, although if we are meeting someone for the first time, it is common to simply say Hello, I am ... and our first name.

To say goodbye, it is common in London say a simple Cheers, which is also used as an alternative to Thank you to thank, for example, the driver when we get off the bus.

Among young people and adolescents, it is common for them to immediately call us about our First nameBut this should not be taken as a sign of friendship, but as a simple way to break the ice. This is the same in other European countries among younger people, since they are usually not situations that occur in formal contexts. Giving each other a hug is also quite frequent, depending on the degree of trust between friends.

On the other hand, if we interact with an older person, this usually changes. As in Spain, for example, there is a tendency to talk about usted, in the United Kingdom it will be more appropriate to address our interlocutor with the form Mister for men and Miss for women followed by their last name. In even more formal contexts, they might use the forms Sir / Madam to address us, something that we will have to use as well.

Be careful with body language

As we said before, the British are not too close, so in interpersonal relationships they always use a certain distance. Touching our interlocutor will not be too successful if we are speaking with an English or English.

Those who touch the arm or back of the other party when they speak are often called back slappers and it is a gesture that can make the other person very uncomfortable. In short, the English do not tend to show their affection in public, but prefer to reserve it for more familiar and intimate contexts.

Since the British like to keep their distance and have their space during a conversation, in general our advice is not to get too close to our interlocutor while we are chatting with him or her. Also, show interest and look straight in the eye gestures will be highly appreciated.

On the contrary, stare fixedly at someone if we are going down the street or are inside a place, something they call in English standing, is often considered rude and, in addition, they tend to realize it frequently. Our advice: discretion above all else.

A gesture that should be paid special attention is make a "V" with the index and middle fingers apart, as if we indicated the number two. Although it is only considered rude if we show the outside of our hand and not the palm, English culture considers it a gesture of contempt, authority and even mockery.

In English, this gesture is called Longbowman o reverse peace and it comes from the XNUMXth century, as it is a gesture made by archers who fought against England during the Hundred Years War. According to this legend, the French, during the Battle of Agincourt, threatened the English archers with cutting off these two fingers, which were the ones they used to shoot. When the English won the battle, they made it their custom to make this gesture in defiance.

Business protocol

If, as we have already mentioned, the United Kingdom is par excellence the country of formality and education when interacting with others, the business context could not be an exception, but rather a clear example of proverbial correction.



The evolution of the protocol when negotiating in England has undergone several changes over the centuries. Currently, the protocol is not followed as strictly as it was a few decades ago. Although for many this is an indicator that English culture has lost "class", the truth is that simply the ways of engaging in business relationships have evolved.

Thus, first of all, one of the most striking labels is the one that tells us to avoid wearing a striped tie as much as possible, since they could interpret that we belong to someone club o college, very common throughout the country.

A value that remains almost intact even so is the one related to the given word: normally, promises tend to take them at face value and will expect us to keep them. Therefore, our advice is to be careful to ensure the accuracy of what is said.

The English negotiate according to an unspoken rule that they call understatement, whose literal translation into Spanish is subtlety. Indeed, it is a matter of negotiating being clear, but always with certain reservations, with "just in case." And this has to do with what we mentioned earlier in relation to promises. The British are good negotiators, something known as'british phlegm«, That is, the apathetic character that is usually observed in their behavior.

As a way to break the ice in order to greet each other, they often say How do you do? followed by a handshake. For the British, time is very precious and therefore the puntuality It is a very important factor, so we advise you not to be late for any business meeting. Likewise, making jokes or humorous comments is not very well regarded in this type of event, so our recommendation is that you leave them for more informal contexts.

You also have to be especially careful during business meetings when we talk about the United Kingdom itself, especially you must be very aware that the country has two clearly differentiated nations: Scotland and England. Scots don't like to be called English and the English don't like to be referred to as Scottish, although the latter case tends to occur less frequently than the former.

How to say hello and goodbye in writing?

When a foreigner learns English, it is very common to treat exhaustively the subject of how to write formal and informal letters. Within a tourist context, it can be very interesting to know in depth this part of the British English if our next destination belongs to the UK, especially if it is a business trip and because we are looking for employment there.

As in the oral channel, in writing the English also tend to mark the distances, something that is seen in the prototypical formulas that are usually used.

Whether it's sending a traditional letter or an email, the forms don't change. However, we do need to pay special attention and know how to differentiate when it is a formal context and when it is more informal, since the forms that we use in one or the other will be the ones that make the real difference. So, in general, if we know the name of our recipient, the ideal would be to start the letter with a Dear followed by your name (eg. Dear thomas) and a comma.

If, on the other hand, we do not know his name, we can put Dear Sir / Madam o To whom may it concern, although these forms tend to be somewhat more formal. In a context of low formality, we could put a simple Hello or even Good morning / afternoon / evening (depending on whether it is in the morning, afternoon or late in the day). If the message is addressed to several people, we can always resort to the form Dear all.

However, it is true that currently, given that the most widely used means in these cases is the e-mail, the excessive formalities are disappearing little by little. Thus, it is common to put the simple Hello which we talked about in the previous paragraph or even its reduced form Hi, which would be the most informal of all those mentioned. For example, among companies located in the City of London it is usual to start emails saying hi-team o Greetings, Meaning regards.

To say goodbye, for their part, they do not always use the forms Yours sincerely (when we know the recipient) or Yours faithfully (when we do not know their identity), but there are multiple ways to say goodbye. In fact, these are not the most commonly used forms and, if they are used, it is in quite formal contexts.

A formal and simple farewell at the same time is Regards, very common today, followed by your full name on the next line. If the mail requires a little less formality, we can choose to Best regards, so that we bring a touch of warmth to our writing. In informal contexts, the most common is to end with a simple Best, although the preferred way in London is undoubtedly Cheers.

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