Loose Lips: Sinking Ships Since 19-something

I realized just how loud Americans are roughly three hours into my first trip abroad. I remember sitting in the back of a bus in Oxford and being able to hear my friend Jordie, in the front of the bus, distinctly. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one listening in.

Always a bit of an amateur (albeit uninformed) cultural anthropologist, I marked it up to the U.S.’s natural surroundings. America loves space — big plains, giant everything, generously large including how much “social space” we require for comfortable conversation. Being loud, I thought, was a natural progression of conversing in venues that are naturally (culturally?) larger. More space = louder voices.

Anyway. If you’re loud enough, people will listen, ESPECIALLY in the U.K. (Maybe that’s why they’re so quiet … snoopy Brits.)

Reported this week by the Economist travel blog, in a recent survey Brits were the most likely to eavesdrop on other conversations when abroad. Stats from the Regus survey:

• 67% of Brits travelling with work have eavesdropped on someone else’s business conversation, versus 59% of American professionals
• 35% of travelling British professionals have caught sight of sensitive company documents, along with 34% of Americans
• 13% of British professionals have been able to use the information they have overheard in public versus 19% of American mobile professionals

I have to admit eavesdropping is fun, and our UK counterparts are definitely into it. Kind of makes me wish Filter was still around — formerly the best eavesdropping in Chicago.


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