Keeping a cool head

My long experience with living and travelling abroad has shown me that when in other countries, most people don’t behave quite the way they would do at home. For the most part, people are courteous and perhaps a bit more introverted than usual when speaking new languages in new places (I know I am). Unfortunately, though, I have seen a lot of people act in obnoxious and entitled ways when they don’t think they are being understood. These reactions may be a reflection of frustration, or just simply ignorance. I’ve seen people yelling in English at people who clearly don’t understand, although no doubt they understand the general meaning of the rant, and because the person being yelled at is usually a service person, they are too polite to yell back in their own language.

I tend to err on the side of caution when I am in confrontational situations, as I don’t want my tone of voice or random hand gesture to be misconstrued by the other person. The last thing I want is to end up in an enormous argument where I don’t understand most of what’s going on. The downside of this attitude, though, is that things that I might have complained about at home (e.g. poor service or undercooked food) often get accepted because I don’t want to go through the hassle of trying to explain, and I don’t want to be seen as ‘that guy’ that everyone in the restaurant looks at.

What’s your attitude when it comes to complaints or arguments?

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