Speaking Politely

To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.

– Eleanor Roosevelt

Do’s and Don’ts in American English

When Speaking Politely, one is advised to listen well and be understanding to the other person. It is also encouraged to avoid negative words, use the magic words Please and Thank you and avoid ‘finger pointing.’


“Sorry, but I don’t really agree.”“I don’t agree”
“I don’t think that’s such a great idea.” “That’s not a good idea”
“I agree up to a point, but…”“I really don’t agree”
“I’m sorry, but I’ve forgotten my mobile phone. Please, could I use yours to make a quick call?” “Can I use your phone”
“Would you mind opening the window, please? It’s quite hot in here.” “Open the window it’s hot”
“Perhaps I’m not making myself clear.” “You don’t understand me”
“Would you mind telling me the time, please?”‘What time is it?”
“I would love to, but..”“Not interested”
“It was agreed that you’d complete the task today.”“You were supposed to be done with the task”
“I think you might be mistaken.” “You’re Wrong”

Questions/ Hypothetical Situations

Practice these questions and scenarios with your teacher or partner. Use the “Do Say” phrases in your responses.

  1. Would you mind working late this Friday? I know you have plans to go out of town this weekend, but it will only be for a couple of hours.
  2. So we should completely change the concept you put together. It’s dated and doesn’t show the company’s path to evolution.
  3. I don’t understand the proposal at all, how are we supposed to accomplish this with the products we have now?
  4. I will need an extension on the deadline to finish this project.
  5. You have a lot of work to do before your deadline. I suggest you push your deadline back to have time for a successful outcome.
  6. I’ve called this meeting so we can review the most recent projects; it has come to my knowledge that there are difficulties that may make it hard to finish by the deadline..
  7. If we look at it from this perspective, it makes more sense
  8. I was told that you would be taking over the project this quarter. What have you come up with?
  9. Is everyone comfortable? I know this isn’t our usual meeting room, but it will have to do for now.

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