Meetings are often inconclusive, with the final decision being that another meeting needs to be held. In fact, rather than a being seen as the place for a final decision, meetings are often seen as a forum for debating potential solutions. They frequently start with seemingly meaningless small talk. This is seen as a good way to start business in a harmonious manner.
Being direct – best not to
The British can come across as quite reserved, distant and lacking emotion at first. Polite phrases are constantly used to avoid offending the other party. To be direct and bluntly disagree with someone is considered extremely rude. Being too direct is perceived as overly arrogant and aggressive, and can prevent a good business relationship from developing. This emphasis on diplomacy over directness in communication can make the British seem evasive. In reality, British business people are often searching for a way of saying something negative in a positive way. The exceptions to this rule are when dealing with data, numbers and legal policy, which are discussed with minimum ambiguity.
But how do I understand them then?
To succeed, you also need to be able to read between the lines of this often indirect way of speaking: for example 'that’s interesting' is often a coded way of saying that someone doesn’t like something.