Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

The Politeness Principles in Business Negotiation

Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

The Politeness Principles in Business Negotiation

Article excerpt


Business negotiation is the solution to reach an agreement or to solve the disagreement. It is also a process of exchanging, discussing and even arguing about the issue. Any party in the negotiation wants to cooperate with the other party to reach his purpose and try to win the most benefits as well. Therefore, it is necessary to adopt the appropriate language strategies. Among them, politeness strategies are most commonly used to contribute to a successful business negotiation. Politeness strategies can enhance the mutual trust and understanding among negotiators so as to increase the opportunities. This article attempts to highlight the politeness principles and analyze their application in business negotiation. The appropriate treatment to the threat of face in communication can retain both positive and negative aspects of the face, thus making the negotiation go on smoothly.

Key words: Politeness principle; Business negotiation; Etiquette; Body language


In business, it is mostly through negotiation that exporters and importers bridge the difference and reach a fair and mutually satisfactory deal. Business negotiation plays an essential role in business, for the buyers and the sellers need to communicate and negotiate before concluding a transaction. Business negotiation is a kind of economic activity through which the parties involved seek the greatest gains. For the economic interest, both parties in negotiations have to compete against each other, but simultaneously have to cooperate with each other. Therefore, in spite of competition, both parties endeavor to create and keep the cooperative relationship through certain strategies and tactics.

Language is a chief measure used in business negotiation. However, language is often taken for granted perhaps because it is used every day, and its powers left unexamined unless serious problems with its use arise. Negotiators may have their attention focused on the more material aspects of an issue they are discussing and neglect the fundamental role language is playing in the representation of the aspects. Yet if the language used is inadequate for its purposes or the representation is at fault, the whole interaction may falter or fail. Successful negotiators must not take language for granted in the difficult and complex world of human interaction.

Cohen Herbert, a famous American negotiating expert, points out that a successful negotiation does not mean "winning by defeating the other party, but winning by getting what both parties want". Thus a harmonious, friendly and cooperative atmosphere can keep a negotiation going on smoothly. Some appropriate strategies and tactics of language should be carried out to smooth the negotiation. Among them, politeness can work as the effective negotiation strategy. The ultimate goal of politeness is "the attainment of community". In other words, politeness strategy can enhance the mutual trust and understanding so as to increase the chances for negotiation success. To start with, the author would like to highlight some of the main theories concerning politeness and its verbal strategies before moving into the application of politeness principle in business negotiation.


Politeness can be understood as a social phenomenon, a means to achieve good interpersonal relationships and a noun imposed by social conventions. So it is phenomenal, instrumental and normative by nature. Politeness is universal, which is interpretable in various ways. It can be observed as a phenomenon in all cultures and recognized as a norm in all societies. Despite its universality the actual manifestations of politeness and the standards of judgement may differ in different cultures, which can be traced to the origin of the notion of politeness in different cultures. Therefore, we have to study the notion of politeness in different cultures so that we can avoid misunderstanding and behave ourselves appropriately in various occasions and in turn promote the communication and enhance the friendship between our fellow countrymen and all the American friends and even all people through the world. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.