Maybe you remember a post I wrote a couple years ago about my local grocery store offering beer and wine to customers with the crass sign, "Drink while you shop."
All of Trumpmerica is getting that way.
But Europe, it seems from here, is not.
A small example of the difference:
You invite an American communicator to a conference and he declines because, "They cut our budget." Or, "My boss doesn't let us travel for conferences."
In many years of inviting and being invited Europeans to attend and speak at conferences, I've never heard about a "budget"—I don't think they have them over there—and I very rarely hear about the person's boss. Much more common is the sort of language I received from a German speechwriter the other day, who I'd invited to come to an event over here.
"I spoke to my colleagues," she wrote, "and they gave me the go-ahead."
In this case, is "colleagues" a politeness meaning, "boss"? I imagine it probably is, but I don't need to know for sure, or want to! I want to go on thinking that this speechwriter and her colleagues gather periodically to discuss the relative merits and costs of one another's professional and personal desires, weigh them against everyone else's needs and wishes, and come to a thoughtful decision that's best for everybody!
Assuming "colleagues" is indeed a euphemism for "boss," I respect the dual impulse: To insulate me from the vulgar and petty and ultimately irrelevant machinations of her communication department. And also to protect the institution she works for from making an undeserved poor first impression on an American conference producer who has no call to judge.
I've argued my whole communication career for candor and against pretense. But I must admit I do appreciate a rare bit of social grace every now and again.
(And my colleagues tend to agree.)
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