British Bonding Talk: Obnoxious or Traditional?

After reading Fox’s dissection of both female and male “bonding talk”, I was left with many questions. She explains that it is customary for women to barrage one another with “counter-compliments” to start a conversation and show friendliness. A counter-compliment being a compliment that simultaneously insults one self. For example: “Oh my gosh, Becky your hair looks so fab, mine is always so frizzy. I could never get mine to look that good”. This seems like a beyond obnoxious conversation to be a fly on the wall for, but if its intention is well understood by both parties, then I am sure it is a useful technique of showing friendly intentions. On the other hand, male bonding talk deals with one upping one another rather than self put-downs. I’ve noticed this banter around the office between male¬†colleagues. It’s always a chummy argument over something arbitrary in which both parties insist that theirs is the better option. I enjoy hearing some of these witty and snarky remarks shot back and forth during one of these discussion, but realize not to get carried away with one’s insults. If done inappropriately or with someone to whom you should show respect (i.e. boss or professor) I can see this becoming very obnoxious and border-line insulting. However, when joking around with friends I am sure this tradition is as long standing as the pride the Bits carry around with them at all times. While I have notices that British men are very respectful and considerate for the most part, humility is not their strong suit, which in turn does provide a very driven and competitive (don’t get me started on soccer fans) environment here.



Also on a unrelated note. Here is a picture of David Cameron after he announced his resignation this week.


  • Zach,
    I have found the same to be true. My parents came and visited and we went out to dinner with a British family friend, the Wescotts, and I thought it was ridiculous seeing the change in my Dad’s personality. He was much more aggressive with his jokes, as they were all pointed at Mr. Wescott. While being perfectly polite, even pouring water and asking if anyone needed any bread, he was picking my dad apart. I got a real kick out of it, not only because he was being very funny, but also because it was such dry humor that he acted as if it wasn’t even going on. It’s one thing to get the better of someone in a joke, but it is a whole different sense of victory when you are literally pouring them a glass of water while you do it rather than rubbing it in. Simply acting like getting the better of someone is not a big deal because they expected to.

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