The Art of Words. That's the lesson I've been struggling to grasp now that I'm living in the UK.
When it comes to communications, my novice observation suggests that the similarity between the US and the UK begins and ends with the language they share. You may recognize the words used, but you don't understand the way they're being used.
In London, in my limited social circle, the English language is expressed in a more considerate manner. The daily vocabulary contains words that would be considered exceedingly formal or pretentious across the pond, and people seem to enjoy incorporating lines from famous people or literature into the conversation.
How eloquent - I thought at first. But a few incidents have shown me that there may be a hidden meaning behind every sentence, and that it would be naive for anyone to take words at face value.
In public, in your presence, you're likely to receive nothing but pleasantry and banters. In private, in your absence, that is when the true opinions about you are shared.
Then, there's the body language. A nice English acquaintance once tried to teach me how to "cut" in a social setting -- not with a knife but with a look -- as a way to ignore or refuse to recognize someone.
Class status -- gosh what century are we living in? -- dominates people's mentality. The first question after handshake is often "Where do you live?" as to determine the "poshness" of the new person, and subsequently how to treat him/her accordingly.
It's as if people are drawing circles around themselves so they can stay trapped (or protected) by the old ways. As for foreign newcomers like myself, space is limited in the existing circles, so we just create one to call our own.