Post updated February 24th 2021
Polite language in business negotiations
Do you know how to use polite language in 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.
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 language 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 language 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 Language 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.
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.”
“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 language can help you build a positive professional reputation
Would you rather be known for being courteous and diplomatic or rude and arrogant?
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 language 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 you’ll want to read this post or check out our Masterclass: Make your English more polite, diplomatic and professional.