What are the negative and positive politeness strategies?

By: | Post date: 2016-08-23 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: General Language, Linguistics

Politeness theory

I’m sure I’ve answered this here already.

Positive politeness strategies are culturally approved ways of interacting with other people, that involve doing good things for them. They concentrate on eliminating distance between people.

Negative politeness strategies are culturally approved ways of interacting with other people, that involve not doing bad things to them. They concentrate on preserving distance between people.

Positive politeness strategies include:

  • Being smiley and friendly
  • Sharing things with people, without asking permission
  • Doing people favours
  • Speaking to people in a familiar tone
  • Joking and bantering with randoms

Negative politeness strategies include:

  • Having a neutral expression in public
  • Using lots of “please” and “if you don’t mind” and “thank you”
  • Not imposing on people
  • Speaking to people in a respectful tone
  • Keeping the hell out of randoms’ faces

Cultures have preferences for positive or negative politeness strategies. And cultures take the wrong politeness strategies very badly.

I’m sure you’ve recognised a stereotype or two in one column or the other; maybe even in both.

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