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THE BASICS POLITENESS: To put it politely…


Business Spotlight Spezial - epaper ⋅ Ausgabe 1/2019 vom 19.12.2019

Sie können etwas direkt und vehement fordern. Oder Sie bringen Ihre Bitte höflich vor und kommen damit ebenso gut, wenn nicht sogar schneller und besser ans Ziel. Testen Sie mit diesen Übungen, wie Sie sich mit den unterschiedlichen Facetten der Höflichkeit auskennen.


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Michael Jordan, US businessman and former professional basketball player, 1963–


Politeness: don’t duck the issue!


HILDEGARD RUDOLPH is a certified translator and a freelance editor, teacher and book author. Contact: ...

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HILDEGARD RUDOLPH is a certified translator and a freelance editor, teacher and book author. Contact: bs.lektorat@spotlight-verlag.de


THE SITUATION

Your Politeness Coach is an institute based in Truro, Cornwall, in south-west England. The institute offers workshops, each consisting of several modules, in which participants can learn and practise different aspects of politeness.

1. I’m sorry (6 points) E

In one module of the workshop, participants learn different words and phrases relating to the act of apologizing. Fill in each gap with the right word from the list below.

apologize

excuse

mean

regret

sorry

unfortunately

2. Asking a favour (6 points) M

A key aspect of politeness is learning how to ask someone for something. Choose the better option from the words or phrases in bold.

A. I’m afraid I can’t understand what you’re saying. Would/Don’t you mind speaking up a bit?

B. I’m dazzled by the sun, which is shining directly on to the screen. Are you able to / Could you lower the blinds?

C. This new multimedia device is really amazing, but I’ve never used one like it before. Who can/ does help me to get it set up?

D. May/Could you do me a favour, please? I left the extension cable in the meeting room on the first floor. It would be great if you could get it for me.

E. I don’t really understand what you mean. Could/Can’t you give me another example?

F. You’ll find snacks and coffee in the hall. However, there’s a workshop going on in the next room. So, please, will/could you help yourself at the buffet and then go to the lounge?

POLITENESS AND MANNERS

Being polite is also a question of having good manners. When dealing with people from different countries, you should try to learn about their customs and practices.

3. Good manners (6 points) M

Another module in the course deals with good manners. What would you say in each of the following situations? Unscramble the sentences. In each sentence, one of the words does not belong.

4. That’s very kind of you (8 points) M

Tom Martins, the coach of one of the modules, meets Janet Baker, an assistant, in the institute’s hall. In the dialogue, the sentences in bold are not where they should be. Put them in the right place.

LESS DIRECT

By using indirect speech, questions, or softening words such as “quite” or “a bit”, you can make your language sound less direct: “Could you speak a bit louder, please?”

5. That’s really quite difficult! (6 points) A

In another module, participants learn about “language tools” that are useful for making a statement or question less direct and more polite. Transform the sentences, using the phrases in brackets.

6. A self-assessment questionnaire (12 points) A

At the end of the workshop, participants have to assess themselves on different aspects of their politeness on a scale from 1 (very impolite) to 5 (very polite). Fill in the missing vowels of these adjectives.

7. Say it in style (6 points) A

Barbara Jäger, from a German company, sends a letter to Janet Baker confirming the participation of her company’s employees. Translate these standard German phrases (in brackets) into their English equivalents.

Dear Ms Baker

Kind regards

Barbara Jäger,

head of human resources

ANSWERS

1. I’m sorry

A. Sorry (sb. is sorry for sth. = jmdm. tut etw. leid)
B. mean (mean to do sth. = etw. mit Absicht tun)
C. Excuse (Excuse me. = Entschuldigung.)
D. Unfortunately = leider, bedauerlicherweise, unglücklicherweise
E. regret (regret to do sth. = bedauern, etw. tun zu müssen)
F. apologize = sich entschuldigen

2. Asking a favour

A. Would
B. Could you
C. can
D. Could
E. Could
F. could

4. That’s very kind of you

A. I’ll show you how to get there.
B. May I ask you a question?
C. That’s very kind of you.
D. I’d be glad to show you where everything is.
E. Well, don’t hesitate to ask me.
F. I’ll get it for you from my office.
G. Oh, let me check this with the caterer.
H. You’re welcome.

5. That’s really quite difficult!

A. Janet, I wonder (I was wondering) if/whether you could help me with the projector.
B. Would you like to listen to the sales dialogue again?
C. Could you explain that again, please?
D. The information in this slide seems (to be) a bit confusing.
E. How about having a break now?
F. You might have to speak louder so that everyone can hear you.

6. A self-assessment questionnaire

A. attentive = aufmerksam, zuvorkommend
B. courteous = höflich, zuvorkommend
C. friendly = freundlich
D. helpful = hilfsbereit
E. humble = bescheiden
F. impertinent = unverschämt, impertinent
G. likeable = liebenswert
H. offensive = beleidigend, verletzend
I. outrageous = unverschämt
J. patronizing = herablassend
K. rude = grob, unhöflich
L. sympathetic = verständnisvoll

7. Say it in style

A. I am pleased/glad/happy to inform you
B. Our employees/people would appreciate it
C. I would/should be grateful
D. May I also ask you
E. Don’t hesitate to call me or send me an email / Just give me a call or send me an email
F. I hope to hear from you soon. / I look forward to hearing from you soon.

HOW DID YOU DO?

Note: In order to be able to compare your language knowledge across different areas of business English, all Business Spotlight tests have a maximum possible score of 50 points.

40–50

Excellent!

Congratulations! The English you use when dealing with international business partners is very polite. It is a pleasure doing business with you!

30–39

Well done!

In general, you express your ideas and wishes politely. With some practice and mindfulness, you could become even more polite.

18–29

Good

You generally have good manners, but your language is lacking a little politeness. Do those exercises again where you didn’t score well.

Up to 17

Could do better

Although you don’t mean to be rude, some people might think that you are. Try the test again and practise using polite words and phrases more often.


Foto: Cheriss May/NurPhoto/Getty Images

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Foto: Nirad/iStock.com

Foto:s Nirad/iStock.com