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: 2016-09-06 11:59 pm (UTC)
alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)
From: [personal profile] alexseanchai
Fascinating.

(I hate subtext in realtime, can't process it properly, and as such would absolutely have hit this one wrong had the opportunity ever arisen. Thanks!)

Date: 2016-09-07 12:16 am (UTC)
heliopausa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heliopausa
:D I have collided with this! It's great fun to observe how strongly ingrained one's own culture is. If someone comes visiting - not just to the door, but actually inside the house, then yep, I'm internally compelled to offer them a cup of tea. :D

Date: 2016-09-07 12:34 am (UTC)
immer_am_lesen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] immer_am_lesen
I find it's a great 'occupier', especially if you have little to talk about with the visitor- you can just sit and enjoy your cuppa.
The worst is when they say "no, I'm right thanks", or ask for some water. With the non-anything-drinker, they sit there awkwardly while you enjoy your cuppa, with no mug to fiddle with. And with a water-drinker, there's only so much water they can sip before they either have to act dehydrated and get another glass, or just hold it and look...odd.
Even if I don't *need* a tea, I always accept one, as it's nice to have a little, and better than looking and feeling awkward. And yes, the host feels like they are hosting well. There's something a little bit insulting about someone not wanting a warm beverage you are offering. :-)

PS- I always offer tea, coffee, decaf, hot chocolate...as I find the fourth option is often a winner if the first couple aren't. :-)

Date: 2016-09-07 08:39 am (UTC)
vass: A sepia-toned line-drawing of a man in naval uniform dancing a hornpipe, his crotch prominent (Default)
From: [personal profile] vass
This is true. And I don't know how I knew that already, since I wasn't explicitly taught it and it's the sort of social thing I have trouble picking up. Just lucky, I guess: usually I actually would love a glass of water, especially if it's that or have them go to the trouble of making tea or coffee.

Date: 2016-09-07 10:12 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Wow. Sometimes I feel like I missed out on a looooot of social cues.

As a host I tend not to offer tea and coffee because I rarely drink the former and don't drink the latter, and any time I make them for someone else it causes me significant hidden stress/anxiety about whether I'm making it the way they like it and whether it's actually horrible and undrinkable. (Cooking etc is a huge performative-anxiety thing for me and apparently that extends to making hot drinks.)

So I tend to offer water or juice, and if they say "actually I'd love a cup of tea" I wave my hand at the kettle and tea/coffee-making-stuff and say 'have at'. :)

Laney cannot host

Date: 2016-09-08 01:12 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
See, or there are these other options I like to include in my hosting repertoire:
1. Let guest in, forget to offer anything while they are there;
2. Offer guest teaorcoffee, boil kettle, do nothing else;
3. Make guest's teaorcoffee, leave teaorcoffee sitting in mug going cold without offering it to guest (also works with warming them a muffin in the microwave);
4. Offer teaorcoffee to guest, realise guest is Mez who won't want coffee, blanch at challenge of making tea to Mez Standard, offer the use of teapot so she can make tea herself.

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