Five Rules of Thumb for Polite and Diplomatic Language



Is it possible to say something negative in a positive way?

This blog post by Macmillan Dictionary is about how hedging and indirectness in English can be used to establish a respectful and polite relationship between speakers. This is particularly relevant in business negotiations in which subtle changes in tone can have an effect on the rapport between the counterparts, which in turn affects the outcome of the meeting.

Whether you use direct language or not depends on what kind of relationship you wish to have with your counterparts. Sometimes directness can be an effective negotiating style. Nevertheless, using indirect and diplomatic language is a way to avoid sounding aggressive, which can put people off. It can allow you to say something negative while still maintaining a positive attitude, and generally it can help to create an atmosphere of respect in which reasonable agreement can be reached.

Using hedging and…

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