5 Tips for Polite and Diplomatic Language
In this blog we are going to teach you 5 ways to be polite and diplomatic in your speaking.
If you're too direct when you speak you can come across as aggressive and this might put people off. This is true in business meetings and negotiations, but also in many other day to day situations. Here are 5 ways you can make your English more polite, indirect and diplomatic. Follow these tips and you should make the right impression when you talk to people.
1. Listen and be understanding
If you show other people that you are listening to them, and that you understand them, they will be more willing to listen to you and accept your opinion. Don't just say "I disagree", show them that you are listening and that you understand them before you explain your opinion.
You can do this by using statements like:
I see what you mean, but...
I agree up to a point, but
I think we should wait until a better opportunity comes along.
Yes, but we might not get another opportunity like this for a while.
I think we should ask for a 20% discount because it will show them that we are serious.
I see what you mean, but I think 20% might be a bit too much. It might put them off.
2. Avoid negative words - instead use positive words in a negative form
People react to positive sounding words, even if they are used with a negative auxiliary.
Don't say: I think that's a bad idea.
Say: I don't think that's such a good idea.
Let's go for a good cop, bad cop approach in this negotiation!
I don't think that's such a good idea. They might see through it.
3. Say the magic word: Sorry
This word can be used in many ways: to interrupt, to apologise, to show you don't understand, to disagree. It diffuses tension and it allows you to start a statement more comfortably.
Sorry, but can I just say something here
Sorry, but I don't really agree
Sorry, but I think that's out of the question
4. Use little words to soften your statements
Break down negative sentences with some softeners.
Don't say: I don't like it
Say: I don't really like it I'm afraid
Don't say: Can I say something?
Say: Can I just say something here?
Don't say: I didn't catch that
Say: Sorry, I didn't quite catch that
5. Avoid 'finger pointing' statements with the word 'you'
This is aggressive and too direct. Try to avoid saying 'you' and put the focus on 'I' or 'we'.
Don't say: You don't understand me.
Say: Perhaps I'm not making myself clear.
Don't say:You didn't explain this point.
Say: I didn't understand this point.
Don't say: You need to give us a better price.
Say: We're looking for a better price.
So, those are our 5 pieces of advice for being polite and diplomatic. Try to use them when you speaking and you will become a more effective communicator in English.
Related blog posts
- Business English Work and Careers: 50 words you need to know
- Language tips to moving to an English speaking country
- Email writing: how to start and end an email in English
Find out more about our General English 20+ and Business and Professional 25+ courses. You can also take our Intercultural Competence plus Business English course. If you need to learn online, we offer Online English Courses and Skype English lessons.
Post your questions and comments:
Why study at The London School of English?
- Rated “Excellent” based on over 1000 independent client reviews
- Over 100 years’ experience
- Tailored training delivers clear results
- Memorable experiences in London