Global communications in English
Bits and bobs

Using softening expressions

men-talkingIt’s a good idea to use softening expressions such as ‘I’m afraid’, ‘sorry’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ regularly in your English – more often than you’d use similar expressions in Dutch. If you don’t, you may sound blunt and unfriendly. It’s not a question of ‘je uitsloven’ or ‘overdrijven’– it’s simply the way the game is played in English-speaking culture. Basically, that culture gives priority to minimising hurt or offence (which can lead to the truth being covered up); Dutch culture, by contrast, tends to give priority to maximising truth (which can lead to people being hurt or offended). They’re just two different approaches to managing social interaction. It’s useful at least to be able to recognise the difference!

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