Being Friendly in English
Having good social skills is important if you want to make a good
impression on the people you meet. Here's some advice on what is
considered polite or impolite in English-speaking cultures.
1. Please, thank you, excuse me and I'm sorry
polite expressions are used a lot in spoken English, and not using them
can make you appear rude. As politeness is considered perhaps the most
important quality in relationships, make sure you use them! Don't worry
if you think you use them too frequently: the worst that people will
think of you is that you are sweet and charming:))
Please = use whenever you want someone to do something for you, or if you want something from another person
Can you tell me where the post office is, please?
Can you pass me that newspaper please?
use imperative forms unless you are giving someone directions. So
although you can say to someone "Take the 130 bus to Croydon and get off
at Asda supermarket", you can't say to someone "Pass me that
Thank you = use whenever someone does something for you, or gives you something.
Excuse me = use when you want to introduce a request to someone, or if you want to get past someone
Excuse me, can you tell me where the post office is, please?
Excuse me, is this the right platform for the London train?
= use any time that you inconvenience someone, tread on someone's toes
in a crowded train, or if someone asks you something that you can't do.
I'm sorry, but I don't understand. Is the post office on the left or the right?
Is Mr Jones in the office?
I'm sorry, he's out this morning.
2. Ask permission before doing something that may inconvenience others
Do you mind if I open the window?
Can I take this chair?
3. Avoid controversial topics when you meet someone new
topics of conversation can lead to arguments, so unless you know
someone well, it's best to avoid them. These topics are politics,
religion and financial information such as how much money you earn. If
you are in doubt about what to talk about, let the other person take the
lead, and respond to them. This leads on to the next point:
4. Keep the conversation going
someone asks you a question, respond to it. Avoid one-word answers, and
try to say at least a few words. Then you can return the question.
example, if someone says "Terrible weather, isn't it", avoid just
saying "yes". Instead you can say "Yes, I wish it would stop raining" or
"Yes, it wasn't like this last summer, was it?"
Some cultural tips
in Britain, queuing is considered polite. If you "jump the queue" (go
to the front, rather than stand behind the last person in the queue) or
push the people in front of you, you will make yourself very unpopular!
don't stand too close to people. Stand at least an arm's length away if
you can. On crowded public transport this isn't possible, but people
rarely talk to each other in these situations.
- keep eye contact when you talk