Does ‘Britishness’ affect you?
I follow a coaching/business/life blog by Claire Bradford of Straightforward coaching (she always writes interesting and thought provoking stuff!!) and the other day she wrote a post that made me sit up straight and say YES YES!! Claire wrote about how British culture influences our attitudes towards self-promotion and how that can affect the way we run a business or our self esteem. And that a common British trait is self-deprecation. She writes:
However much of a national pastime doing yourself down might be, it’s important not to let it affect the way that you think about yourself. Our subconscious doesn’t discern between a cultural nicety and a concrete fact, so when batting back a compliment with a ‘oh no but I’m rubbish at…’ kind of a comment, we are hammering nails into the coffin of our own confidence. http://straightforwardcoaching.com/2014/04/battling-britishness/
This is something that struck me when I first moved here – not in an obvious way but in a very subtle way, as is the way of the British. Over time, I have accepted it and sometimes mirror behavior and attitudes in order to subconsciously fit in and be ‘British’ and immerse myself in the culture of my new home country. When people tell me I’m a super mum or a talented designer, I tend to respond in a more British way than in an American way. I don’t take compliments very well as a result, where as before, I did. I had no problem shouting out about my accomplishments. I remember when I was doing my Masters degree course during the first year of living in England, I was very vocal about how good my presentations were and how my work was of a high standard. I think over time, I have changed and am definitely more self-deprecating after living here for so long.
My daughter who is 11 has turned this ‘Britishness’ into an art form. She is so smart, clever and talented, but she never thinks she is and whenever we tell her how proud we are of her about something she’s done or said or accomplished, she never outwardly acknowledges it. She always points out something negative to show us that it’s not ‘perfect’. It’s exactly what Claire wrote about what her Nana told her ‘to play down her achievements’. And saying this is not necessarily an unkind thing – it’s a cultural thing. My daughter is growing up British and even though no one has told her that she needs to play down her accomplishments, she does so naturally because of the environment she’s growing up in. I find this fascinating and also very interesting that I have adapted so much without even realizing it. What we must try to do, which is what Claire says, is not let this hinder the way we do business or go about our work or let it influence our children in a negative way.
To end this post, I’m going to shout out about my latest book (there is a reason too!) Inspiring Global Entrepreneurs which I wrote with Heidi Walker. It is a truly fantastic, authentic book which will help you run your business and give you the motivation and inspiration to keep going and make a success of your business ventures.
Today it is on sale on Amazon USA for only $0.92. That’s 95% off.
So if you’re reading this from the USA, please order your copy of Inspiring Global Entrepreneurs and use it as a tool to help you. Or get it for a friend you know who is an expat in business.
And thank you Claire for your wise words and thought provoking post that inspired me to write about this kind of ‘Britishness’ that I have subconsciously adopted.
Meghan Peterson Fenn is the author of Bringing Up Brits and co-author of Inspiring Global Entrepreneurs with Heidi Mulligan Walker. Meghan is also the Director and Chief Designer at her own design company, White Ochre Design Ltd. And, she is an award winning expat blogger.