Indirectness vs directness:
Most of what I know about English people comes from the lense of my supervisor, who is Italian. It’s just us two in the office, and we mainly interact with other Italians who have relocated here. But I think that she, my supervisor, has been here long enough to have both perspectives ingrained into how she interacts, and at times they seem conflicting. Or maybe I just don’t have a grasp on what it means to be English or what it means to be Italian, and am confusing the two.
Direct: The guy around my age who works at our client’s restaurant. He speaks little English, but when he follows me around, takes my hand, and sings “mi amore! mi amore!”, there is little need for translation. My supervisor says, “leave her alone, she’s busy” and he dramatically sighs and winks my way as he leaves.
Indirect: And then to me she says: “not all Italians are like that.” But she doesn’t look so sure of herself and she laughs. That’s not so much indirect as it is confusing. Do I believe her words or her laughter?
Direct: At the end of the day: “You did a great job today. Thanks very much.”
Indirect: She mutters to herself: “This is just awful. Everything is going wrong today.” Did I do something wrong?
The more I am here the more I don’t know if I understand Italianess or Englishness, but I do my work and at the end of the day, there are smiles and congratulations and affirmations of a better tomorrow.