deird1: Dawn drinking a milkshake (Dawn milkshake)
[personal profile] deird1
A piece of random Aussie etiquette for you:

(Context: I was reading a discussion of various cultural "gifting" things, and the Aussie cup of tea came up. Was the first time I'd really thought about it.)

If you go to someone's house, for any reason that requires you staying more than about a minute, you will be offered a cup of tea or coffee. (By which I mean, they'll say "Would you like a tea or coffee?" or offer one and instantly apologise for not having the other. Never just the one.)

When this happens, there are various options at your disposal:
1) "Yes, I'd love a cup of tea."
2) "Yes, I'd love a cup of coffee."
3) "No, thank you."
4) [the hidden one that foreigners don't know about]

Options 1 and 2 are great. Option 3 will... be a problem. Most likely, your Aussie host will look a bit puzzled, and ever-so-slightly frantic, and start offering up all the miscellaneous contents of their fridge until you pick something. This is because, as with many cultural issues, there's a whole lot of subtext happening.

See, you think the conversation has happened like this:
"Would you like a tea or coffee?"
"No, thank you."

Whereas, it's actually done this:
"I am happy to be your host. Are you happy?"
"No. I am not happy. Host better."

(It's much the same as the standard "How are you?" "Good! How are you?" "Good!" exchange. Very few people are actually asking. They're just checking that you're willing to be pleasant in their direction.)

The subtextual conversation we're aiming for is:
"I am happy to be your host. Are you happy?"
"Yes, I am happy to be your guest. You're being a good host."

This will be best achieved by the aforementioned options 1 or 2, or by secret option 4. Which goes like this:
*friendly sigh* "I'd love a glass of water!"

...then, you say thanks for the water, and if you're not thirsty, you don't actually need to drink it.

Date: 2016-09-07 10:07 am (UTC)
immer_am_lesen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] immer_am_lesen
If tea and coffee are so abhorrent to you, then asking for an alternative which may not occur to a lot of people (I'll sometimes forget to offer hot choc as it's so rare that someone doesn't want a tea/ herbal tea/ coffee/ decaf), is something you should do. If they have it, great, and if they don't have it they'll apologise and you can still ask for your glass of water.
I doubt any host ever would FORCE you to gag down a drink, if they knew you hated it so much, and making yourself drink something you hate is just silly.
It's normal as a host to assume acceptance of a tea-or-coffee warm beverage, so if it's not your thing, then you need to just say you really don't like it, and ask for something else- though they'd probably offer you alternative milo/ hot choc/ juice/ lemonade/ cola/ water once you decline the standard two, anyway... :-)

...and, if it's an 'immense relief' situation you find yourself in and wanting to flee, then maybe accepting anything at all in the first place isn't your best option. Just an "ah, no thanks, I can't stay, I have [invent thingo you have to go see to here]", and making a gracious exit, no need for stressing over refusals, acceptances, or stilted conversations, has worked for me.

Date: 2016-09-07 10:58 am (UTC)
zeborah: Four zebras and their reflections in the water they're drinking from (reflective)
From: [personal profile] zeborah
But if I ask for hot chocolate or milo or juice and they don't have it then it puts them in the position of having to refuse my first/second/third choice of drink and therefore unwittingly being a bad host; and putting them in that position makes me a bad guest. Whereas if I ask for water then they can grant my request easily, thus fulfilling their hostly duties to give me my first choice of drink, and everyone's happy.

Trust me, I've tried 'just' saying "I don't like tea or coffee", and I've got everything from confusion through to panic. And I've occasionally tried asking tentatively for milo or whatever seems most likely, and if they don't have it (they usually don't have it) they get super apologetic and I have to spend a long time saying it's okay and they still feel guilty and I get irritated at having to say it's okay *again*. Whereas if I just say "A glass of water would be great thanks" then they can just pour me a glass of water exactly the same as they'd pour someone a tea.

And certainly if I'm desperately wanting to go I'll make excuses and go if I politely can. But sometimes I can't politely because my host is the kind of person who Just Keeps Talking and you can't get a word in edgewise without practically saying "I don't care about the end of your story, I have to go". In these situations the only resort is to pointedly finish drinking all my water and angle my feet towards the door and fiddle awkwardly with things in the hopes that they'll pick up on my body language and wrap up their story.

Of course I'm exaggerating for effect, and anyway not everyone with an empty water glass is that desperate. And *anyway* my original point wasn't even about the guest's comfort except in passing; I was responding to your expressed discomfort with the odd-lookingness of guests fiddling with empty water glasses when the conversation lags, and suggesting that if you as host are uncomfortable then you can just as easily create a gracious exit too.

tl;dr I'm just trying to refute the idea that when a guest requests a glass of water it's "the worst". Unless of course you live in a place where clean water is legitimately not easy to lay your hands on. But otherwise if they ask for a glass of water, give them a glass of water and don't stress about it - or even put it in a mug if you don't want to have to worry about the odd-ness of the empty glass.

Date: 2016-09-07 11:36 am (UTC)
immer_am_lesen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] immer_am_lesen
...I never said empty water glasses made me uncomfortable, you somehow inferred that- I just said that someone holding a glass of water looks odd, to me. Somehow not as comfortable as someone nursing a warm cuppa.
If their glass is empty it doesn't weird me out, it makes me think they liked it, and I'll ask if they'd like more. Just as someone playing with an empty mug is a signal to ask if they'd like more of their drink, or if they're all done. :)

My reply to Mez's post was my personal opinion, not intended to be mistaken for some sort of serious hate for drinkers of water.

Anyways. Yay for all drinks, and friends to drink them with. The end.

Date: 2016-09-07 06:56 pm (UTC)
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeborah
Sorry, when my subconscious perceives a communication failure it can't account for I get longwinded when what I really should do is just go to bed on time for a change.
Edited (insert missing words...) Date: 2016-09-07 06:56 pm (UTC)


deird1: Fred looking pretty and thoughful (Default)

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