In the last two lessons we’ve covered some specific expressions you can use to negotiate and reach agreement. Today we’ll look at some general guidelines for expressing opinions and making demands more diplomatically.
In English, we use words and phrases that are known as “softeners” to make a direct expression more diplomatic. They’re called “softeners” because they make your demand or criticism softer, less harsh.
Examples of softeners:
possibly / might / maybe / perhaps
with all (due) respect
slightly / a (little) bit
I see what you mean
And the universal term that I hear all over the world… sorry
Softeners can be used in a number of situations, including
– to make requests or demands
– to express criticism or give negative feedback
– to give bad news
– to give a command
– to make a suggestion
Here are some examples of softeners in use:
Direct: That time won’t work. We need to reschedule.
Diplomatic: I’m afraid that’s not a good time for me. Perhaps we could reschedule for later in the week?
Direct: Your price is far too high.
Diplomatic: That price seems rather high.
Direct: You need to speak more slowly. I can’t understand you.
Diplomatic: Sorry, but can you speak a little more slowly? I’m having a bit of a hard time following you.