I have learned a new phrase since I moved here, and in our community it is used like a mantra.
It is: O, don't bother.
In this area it is a phrase that generally connotes care and concern for the person offering to do something. It only occasionally means someone truly doesn't want you to make good on an offer of assistance and will be ticked off if you persist. This is a new way of communication for me.
I suspect people here are very used to simply making do after many decades of hard work, sometimes having little time for the niceties or for making improvements or for attaining true excellence. Recently I was told, again, quite proudly that "we are a make-do people." That is the truth. For a long time this has been one of the have-not provinces in Canada and expectations are low, complacency and resignation are high.
To imply that you expect someone to put themselves out for you is very bad form for the most part. People here are independent, they don't ask for help, they take care of themselves and their own. To ask to help with something or to contribute something more than the norm can be construed as insulting; as a suggestion that the best they have been able to make do with is not good enough. It can make people like myself appear to be bossy know-it-all's.
So my task is set before me: to learn how to communicate that an offer to help with something, to invite over for a nice dinner, to go the extra mile on a gift, is NOT a bother for me; to get the idea across that when I care about you I want to bother, and because I care it actually isn't a bother but a joy. Asking about making changes in things or offering a suggestion to be considered is not a hidden criticism that what someone else is doing is inadequate or insufficient or wrong. This is what I need to learn how to communicate.
Good thing I love a challenge because my Type A personality gets in my way on occasion, but I can learn. I CAN learn. I am GOING to learn! I love the people here where I live. I want them to know that and I will continue to work at showing it in more indirect and socially acceptable ways. They have been so patient with me.....