We spent one of our first days in Sri Lanka on the beech while friendly people walked past, offering up things to buy. To be polite, to all those that really persisted, we smiled and said maybe later. Or maybe tomorrow. Until one nice guy ask in reply “You English?”
We confirmed in slight surprise and assumed that he just recognised the accent, but he went on to explain how the English always say ‘maybe’. We smiled at this at first but then realised he wasn’t joking. He genuinely disliked the dishonesty of ‘maybe’ and only gets it from the English.
He finished by explaining how saying ‘no’ is better as it saves him the time of coming back later or tomorrow and trying again, just in case ‘maybe’ actually means maybe.
The experience has stuck with me over the last two weeks and I’ve wondered a lot about what other nationalities say, and how they react. Which are polite but blunt? Which are rude and blunt? Also, how big his data set is?
I don’t know. It’s got me thinking even further down the line of us all not really understanding what we say and imply to each other. Further along with thinking how we need a closer relationship between interaction design and communication design. Or a new discipline all together.