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Brits are very polite. At all times and in all circumstances. They never say “No”. I once asked a colleague whether he had already used a new software I had heard about. I thought that it was a yes or no type of question. How naive of me. He replied “Not directly”. I am still wondering what he meant. I have come to the conclusion that, in this instance he just couldn’t say no. It must have hurt him. Saying “No” is, actually, a no-no. A true Brit can’t say no. He has to window-dress it. The best examples are as follows:
“Well, I am not sure”
“Yes, I hear what you say”. (although it is nice to hear a yes, do not kid yourself, this is a no)
“I don’t suppose so” (this is quite direct, it must be a good friend of yours)
“I will contemplate it” (this one is the worst. Once you have understood that contemplating doesn’t mean doing, you have made a big, big step forward…)
Likewise, here, when you apply for a job, a school or anything else you get, most of the time, a very polite rejection letter that can read like this:
“Dear xxxx,
Thanks for your application. Unfortunately, we have received a lot of applications of exceptional quality and, despite your breadth of experience, we feel that other candidates might be better suited….”
From time to time, you don’t get anything. Radio silence.
So my question is: does it make it easier to be rejected politely?
Simply put: no, it doesn’t. I think that I would prefer an honest explanation of why  I didn’t get what I wanted, with quantified justification (it must be a French thing, I love numbers…) like:
– what the grades my daughter at her assessment are and what she would have needed to pass the test;
– why exactly my CV didn’t make the cut;
– how much the other tenant earns and why did he get the flat.
Instead, what I get are wishy-washy explanations like:
“the personality of your daughter should have shone through”
“we feel that you are oversized for the job”
” the flat is not available any more”
“you are too good for me” (used by my friend’s boyfriend to dumb her)
Why are they so polite? Why do I hate it? Why is it so difficult to say “No”. I can’t understand. I don’t get it. Please, just say No.
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London