From my personal experience the British are usually very polite. They use the words “Thank-you” and “Sorry” every single day and in almost any situation! People say “Excuse me” if they want to pass someone or ask you something and “I’m sorry” if they accidentally touch someone. British people even say sorry if you stand on their toes or accidentally bump into them! Everyone in the UK expect to be treated politely and this means saying please and thank-you. You should also show your good manners and thank the driver for the safe trip before you leave the bus.
The generic rule is that every request must end with “please” and every fulfilment of a request requires a “thank-you”.
Queuing in the UK
British people will queue for everything from getting on a bus to being served at local takeaway. If you want to get served it is best to accept this behaviour and join the back of the queue. If you are gonna try to rush in, hurry someone or ignore the queue, you are likely to annoy and get people angry. If I see someone fighting his way to get the best place on a bus or I hear someone loudly moaning about the waiting time in the UK – I can bet that person is not British. If you want to “blend in” to the British society, you should follow their manners which I personally respect and prefer to those in many other countries.
The English expect each other to observe the rules of queuing, feel highly offended when these rules are violated, but lack the confidence or social skills to express their annoyance in a straightforward manner. In other countries, this is not a problem: in America, where a queue-jumper has committed a misdemeanour rather than a cardinal sin, the response is loud and prescriptive: the offender is simply told “Hey, you, get back in line!” or words to that effect. In Europe, the reaction tends to be loud and argumentative; in some other parts of the world, queue-jumpers may simply be unceremoniously pushed and shoved back in to line – but the end result is much the same. Paradoxically, it is only in England, where queue jumping is regarded as deeply immoral, that the queue-jumper is likely to get away with the offence. We huff and puff and scowl and mutter and seethe with righteous indignation, but only rarely do we actually speak up and tell the jumper to go back in the queue.
- Fox, K, 2004. ‘Watching the English’, Hodder and Stoughton, London