Just Trying to Be Polite

Brits tend to tell it like it is. This is most apparent in the job market.  An old boss of mine at the BBC in London told me that I would never report on-air for them because they don’t like American accents (I instead reported for BBC World, seen in countries other than the UK. So hah!).  

No American boss of mine has ever said anything so blunt, even if that’s what they thought. Now that I’m back in the US, and looking for a job, I notice the lengths Americans go to, just to be polite.

I’ve had several job interviews in which the interviewer tells me they have just the role for me, and they can’t wait for me to start — and then I won’t hear from them again.  I honestly think they would rather tell me what they think I want to hear, rather than the truth — their company is cutting jobs, or is too scared to hire anyone in this economy, so I may not hear from them for a while. If ever. But that sounds too harsh to tell someone to their face.

I find that I do the same thing. I took a tour of a gym in our new neighborhood, and knew immediately it wasn’t for me. They had personal training sessions of five people (why not one?!), which you had to pay for up front (that would never work — I would pay for the minimum ten classes, then realize I didn’t have a babysitter, miss the classes and lose the money).  And they weren’t cheap.

But instead of saying “Thanks, but no thanks,” I told the very earnest gym manager that it sounded fantastic — “A personal trainer working with five clients at once? How novel!” — and I would be in touch.

I think he knew I was lying. But I also think he understood why.  Sometimes, the truth hurts.

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