Polite English for Business

5 Reasons to Use Polite English in Negotiations

by Kerin. Updated Dec 2nd 2021

Polite English in business negotiations

Do you know how to use polite English? Do you know why you should use it?!

Subtle changes in your tone, and the phrases you choose to use can greatly impact the person you are speaking to. 

This in turn can affect the outcome of your meeting and can make the difference between a successful or an  unsuccessful outcome. 

If you want to improve your business English vocabulary and your communication skills, learning polite English is an excellent way to go. Here are 5 reasons why using polite and diplomatic language can make you successful in business negotiations:

1. Avoid sounding aggressive

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes directness can be an effective negotiating style. Each speaker of English has to decide which style is best for which situation.

However, using polite English is a sure way to avoid sounding aggressive, which generally tends to put people off*. (*Put someone off is a phrasal verb, meaning discourage/ deter / intimidate / demotivate)

Obviously in a negotiation, you don’t want to put people off. So using polite English can allow you to say something negative while still maintaining a positive attitude. It can help you create an atmosphere of respect which allows for  agreement to be reached.

2. Polite English will make you sound like a native speaker!

Using ‘softeners‘ and polite language is something native speakers do automatically. We take it for granted, especially us Brits!

If you are able to learn and use this kind of language, your English will become more fluent and natural sounding, making you more professional and successful in negotiations.

Need more practice? Learn perfect polite English with our masterclass

Polite English

3. Show some empathy

If you show other people that you are REALLY listening to them, and that you understand them, they will be more willing to listen to you and accept your opinion.

Instead of saying: “No.” or “I disagree.”

Try saying:

“Yes, but…”
“I see what you mean, but…”
“I agree up to a point, but…”

This will show them that you are listening and that you understand them before you explain your opinion.

4. Polite English can help you build a positive professional reputation

Would you rather be known for being courteous and diplomatic or rude and arrogant?

Compare this:

We can’t. (Direct. Uncooperative) 

I think that’s about as far as we can go. (Softened. Kinder)

When can you deliver? (Direct. Aggressive) 

> What sort of time-scale are we looking at? (Cooperative. Courteous)

5. Polite English will help you to avoid sounding negative

Many phrases in English can sound like you are being negative

For example: “I’m afraid I haven’t finished the report.

If you replace this with: “I’m afraid I haven’t been able to finish the report yet.”  You put the emphasis on your attempt to finish the report rather than your failure to do so.

You imply that you are still working to complete the task and that your inability to do so is perhaps due to circumstances beyond your control.  

Adding ‘yet’ at the end of the sentence reinforces this idea and will help to reduce the negative impact of the sentence’s underlying content.

Negative sentences that are formed with can’t  make the speaker sound particularly negative and unhelpful and can often be rephrased with be able to, or a similar expression: For example, instead of saying: 

I can’t give you a better deal than that.


  • I am not able to give you a better deal than that.
  • I am unable to give you a better deal than that.
  • I am not in a position to give you a better deal than that.

Hopefully, these five reasons will encourage you to dive deeper into this topic and you’ll see that being diplomatic and polite in an international context in English is not as difficult as it seems!

To find out HOW to make your English polite and diplomatic check out our Business English Masterclass: learn to use polite & diplomatic English

Kerin Goodall Founder English Digital Academy

ps. Want to improve your English and move towards English proficiency? Discover all my courses here

2 thoughts on “5 Reasons to Use Polite English in Negotiations”

  1. Steps by Steps I learned 5 reasons for Business Negotiation. I studied it and understand clearly.
    Practice make Perfect, I believe.
    Thank you.

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