Which is more polite?

Worksheet A: Business manners 1

Is it more polite to:

interrupt your meeting or phone call to greet the person who has arrived to speak to you next, or give your full attention to the person who was speaking you first?

give a foreign person who has joined the company a nickname or just carry on mispronouncing their real name?

call your colleagues by their first name or surname?

call your colleagues by their name or job title?

stop a meeting everyone someone comes in late and greet them or just carry on speaking?

mention a female colleague’s sexy new outfit or say nothing?

say goodbye loudly as you leave work early or just slip out?

mention that a colleague looks tired or unwell and ask if they are okay or say nothing?

tell your boss you think it’s a bad idea or just say yes and then delay and not do it?

correct someone who is using your name wrong to save them embarrassment later, or just say nothing?

cough to get someone’s attention or say something?

keep eye contact when you are apologising or avoid eye contact?


Which is more polite?

Worksheet B: Business manners 2

Is it more polite to:

ask for someone’s name again or just try avoiding using their name until someone else uses it?

tell your boss you still don’t understand their instructions or say you understand then ask one of your colleagues to explain it to you?

tell a client you don’t know or make up some information or an explanation and get back to them again later if you need to correct it?

sack a long term employee who has nothing useful to do or give them less and less work until they realize they are not needed?

complain to your colleague directly about their work or go to your boss to complain?

stand close to each other during a handshake or stand far apart?

use two hands when shaking hands or just use one?

use a firm grip when shaking hands or use a loose grip?

start speaking to a new foreign colleague or client in Japanese and then switch to English if you need to, or start speaking in English?


Which is more polite?

Worksheet C: Hospitality

Is it more polite to:

help the host and hostess clear the table and wash up or just enjoy their hospitality?

ask where the toilet is or just try to find it yourself?

say why you can’t come to a party or just say too are busy?

arrive on time to a dinner party at someone’s house or arrive a little late?

sit back comfortably on your friend’s sofa or sit on the front edge attentively?

bring a party to a close by making coffee, asking if they will have any problems getting home or bringing their coats?

leave quickly when it’s time to leave someone’s house or carry on chatting at the front door?

make up a false excuse for not coming to the dinner party or just say that you can’t make it?

say you will phone someone to arrange to meet up later and then not phone or just say that you can’t meet?


Which is more polite?

Worksheet D: Others

Is it more polite to:

insist on paying for your date’s meal or let her go Dutch?

blow your nose in public or keep sniffing?

reply with a different greeting or use the same one in reply?

visit your new neighbours or wait for them to visit you?

openly cry at a funeral or hide your emotions?

talk to another guy in the toilet or just ignore them?

move past people (for example in a row of cinema seats) with your back to them or with your front facing them?

tell someone a new dress looks bad or let them carry on wearing it?

bow the best you can even if it’s the wrong angle, or insist on shaking hands?

tell a Chinese person visiting England for the first name that they have chosen an inappropriate English name or just let them carry on using it?

show the number two with your palm towards you or with your palm facing out?

thank someone for a compliment or just say it’s not true?

say something when people sneeze or just ignore it?

say sorry many times or just use a stronger phrase once?


PDF version for easy printing: MorePoliteCulturalDiscussion

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