Perfect Cuppa, when does “no” mean no for a British person? And why don’t they just say no?

Te British have a bit of a reputation for being indirect and some people might find it awkward to give nega- tive feedback, and so they don’t want to say “no”. It’s often in situations where they don’t know the other per- son very well or the stakes are high eg, a negotiation or pitch. As a result they start the sentence

by sounding positive, then comes a “but”, and finally end with the real negative message, eg. “I see, that’s in- teresting but maybe I can think about that”. Tey also might modify their language with words like: “a bit”, “quite”, “fairly” or “rather”, both for positive and negative feedback as they don’t want to sound too extreme, eg. “that’s quite an interesting idea”. It’s really important to listen to

their voice to understand the real meaning. A positive and strong tone suggests that it is positive feedback, a hesitant and questioning tone sug- gests it is negative. Also watch out for the use of a double negative, eg “it’s not bad” = it’s good, or “it’s not very good” = it’s terrible. You might also find people asking a

question or asking your permission to give feedback but they definitely want you to listen to their opinion and take an action, eg “could I make a suggestion here?”, or “what about if we offered a discount?”. Finally the most important part of

the feedback will be flagged with in- troductory phrases to prepare you for their negative view, eg “to be honest, I need more time to think about it”, or “actually, it’s a question of budget”. Although these examples may

sound indirect, it comes from an in- tention to be polite and diplomatic to avoid conflict, to soften personal, negative feedback and from a feeling of awkwardness. Also, bear in mind these communication styles are true for some British people in certain sit- uations, but the point is to make sure you are always clear on what is being said, and if you are uncertain about the true intended feeling or meaning then clarify by reflecting back what you think have heard. FOCUS The Magazine 7

Hello Perfect Cuppa, I have private healthcare through my family’s work so I am thinking I don’t need to bother with the NHS, is that right?

Te National Health Service (NHS) is our free healthcare system, and a bit of a national institution at 71 years old. It’s not perfect but it’s a pretty marvellous service available to all. Many people believe that just be-

cause you have private healthcare in- surance you don’t need to register with the NHS or use its services. Actually, it’s highly recommended to register with the NHS, via your local GP (local doctor’s surgery), ideally as soon as you arrive. Tere are a couple of very good reasons to do this. First, if you have an accident and need to use the A&E (accident and emergency department, which is present in most NHS hospitals), then it will much easier to be treated if they know who you are because you have registered al- ready. Second, if you end up staying in the UK for some time then this can be an important public record of your proof of address, which can be signifi- cant if you do not work in the UK and/or you don’t have your name offi- cially on utility bills or council tax for your home. As for the service itself, generally it

is good but can have long waiting times, depending on the specialist area and where you live. Some people opt to get a diagnosis and referral for a medical problem via the NHS and then get a faster appointment via their private healthcare insurance. However, in an emergency,

the NHS is usually very good for treatment.

Hello Victoria, we’re moving over with our pets. Is London a good place to be with pets? Where can I take my dogs walking?

Good news for pet owners: London is an exceptionally pet-friendly city and that’s true also for the all of the UK. Te British love their pets, and whether you’re more of a dog or cat person, you know the pet will be very much treated as a core part of the family. If you’re bringing your own pet over, you will find yourself meet- ing people easily as the city goes dog walking every morning and evening in our lovely Royal Parks and other green spaces. Tere is also a whole in- dustry built around pet services and whether you are looking for meet-ups, grooming, sitters or pet artists, London is definitely the place to find them. And what if you don’t already have

a pet but would love one while you’re here? I highly recommend Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, which is a pop- ular shelter to adopt pets that have been abandoned by previous owners. If that’s just too much commitment, then you can even ‘borrow’ a pet for an afternoon from Borrow My Doggy (

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