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The Use of Politeness Theory in Daily Life

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Have your parents ever taught you to be polite and respect to others? There are a communication theories called politeness theory, which is commonly used between human. It is about keeping both faces of the speakers and listeners by special techniques. I will begin by examining how the theory is about. It will follow some examples of sustaining effective communication and interpersonal relationship. The definition of politeness is the behavior that is respectful and considerate of other people.

Politeness theory includes two faces-positive face and negative face. The meaning of “face” is from the eastern culture which is about the public self-image that a person clammed. This theory is used to minimize face threatening. Positive face is about a person’s wish and hope to be appreciated in society. The receivers may need to show their respect to the providers. This action can prolong an affirmative and unchanging self-image. For example, a boy bought new clothes and wore them to school, he wanted his friend to appreciate his new wear. The boy’s thought can be considered as a positive face. In this situation, positive politeness strategies can be used to reduce the damage to the receiver’s positive face. Therefore, if you are a friend of the boy, you may say “Bro, your shirt is cool!” to fulfill his wish and this is positive politeness. This is an example by using the strategies that agreeing the friend’s interests and identifying as common ingroup model.

The boy should keep in smile and speak in a friendly tone, also his friend should also node head to show supportive. On the other hand, if you say his clothes are ugly or do not give any response, that means you do not care about the feeling of the boy. This act is a positive face-threatening act and may cause damage to the friendship. As the politeness theory is being used, it can increase the chance to have a better friendship as you respect and have the same thought as your friend. Therefore, they will not feel uncomfortable, embarrassing or insulted by you.

As positive politeness theory is being used, discrimination will not be appeared anymore because human respect to others, which can lower the barrier between age, skin color, sex. It is a good way to sustain effective communication rather than unreasonable disrespect. The politeness theory may help people to have a better relationship with their friends. Second, the negative politeness theory is also important to sustain effective communication with your friends. It is about the independence of their action rather than control by others. The provider may give out choices to the receivers in order to give freedom of action, so they may feel respectful by others. For example, if you asked a colleague to borrow his pen, you should say, “Sorry to bother you. I am wondering do you mind lending me your pen?” rather than “Hey, lend me your pen”.

In the first sentence, it was used the negative politeness strategies like apologetic and indirect words to show your respect to the listener. Therefore, the listener can reject your requirement comfortably by his own choice. The speaker will not lose face if the listener rejected. It is easier for the listener and the speaker to have a sustainable communication as the speaker respect the listener and he will be more willing to help him. Furthermore, it will increase the chance for them to be friends as all interpersonal relationship are based on respect to others. In the second sentence, an order was used, which is negative face-threatening acts, to damage the listener’s face as it does not give any freedom of choice. It may affect the relationship with the listeners as they have not been respected.

Moreover, people should also respect the situation by using different communication skills. People should not tell jokes when they are in a formal meeting as everyone are very serious on the discussion. It will cause face-threatening as they are not being respected. Therefore, politeness theory may sustain effective communication and interpersonal relationship.

In conclusion, as human beings are public animals, communication is essential in our society. By using politeness theory, people may save others face to sustain effective communication and integrate the relationship between both speaker and listener.

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