British and American people are similar in many ways, but in expressing feelings they have little in common. Americans believe, at least in principle, that it is better to share what they think and feel. Relatives and friends are expected to say, ‘I love you’, ‘I care for you’, or ‘I’m glad to have a friend like you.’ When people are upset they cry, even in a public place. It is even considered good to show you are angry, to let it all out and say what you feel. Bottling it up inside is thought only to make matters worse.In contrast to this is the traditional British reserve, a national tendency to avoid showing strong emotion of any kind. Many visitors to Britain think that because the British do not express their feelings easily they are cold and uncaring. Keeping a stiff upper lip, not showing or talking about your feelings, was formerly a sign of strong character, and people who revealed their feelings were thought to be weak or bad-mannered. This attitude is far less common today and people are now encouraged to show or talk about their feelings.Most British men, and some women, are embarrassed to be seen crying in public. People are also embarrassed when they see somebody crying, and do not know whether it is better to pretend they have not noticed or to try and comfort them. Women are more likely to respond than men and will put their arm round the person or touch their shoulder. Many people now show feelings of affection in public. Women sometimes kiss each other on the cheek as a greeting and people may greet or say goodbye to each other with a hug. Lovers hold hands in public, and sometimes embrace and kiss each other. Some British people are embarrassed about showing anger. If somebody starts to complain in public, e.g. about being kept waiting in a restaurant, people around them may pretend not to hear and avoid getting involved.When British people are part of a crowd they are less worried about expressing their emotions. Football crowds sing and they cheer when their side scores a goal. Players hug each other when they score. Even cricket supporters, who in the past had a reputation for being much quieter, cheer as well as giving the traditional polite applause.
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