This week in my conversation group, we will talk about politeness and respect. If you want to join us and come practice your French with us, the link is in my description. I will answer a few questions that my students will answer in their practice sessions about politeness.
In what situations is it particularly important to be polite?
I think it's important to be polite all the time. It should be a natural thing to do with family, friends, strangers and colleagues. Politeness, for me, is a sign of respect and it allows us to have social interactions that go well. Being polite should not be confused with being formal, they are two different things. You can be polite and still use colloquial language.
What do you think are bad manners?
Not saying "bonjour" for me is a bad way. I am not French for nothing. I don't know why, but someone who doesn't say "bonjour" shows that they don't respect me. And it's not just verbally, someone who sends me a message or an email without "bonjour", it bothers me a little bit. I'm not going to say anything, because other people's words are their own business, but I don't feel respected by the person.
To ask for something by using "I want" and forgetting to say "please", I find it a bad way too.
What do people visiting your country need to know to be polite?
We have a lot of politeness formulas in French in speech and a lot in writing too which are sometimes a bit heavy. I made a video where I explain you how to be polite in France, what are the important things to adopt. You can find it right here.
Is politeness synonymous with professionalism?
Politeness does not mean professionalism, but to be professional it is important to be polite of course. In fact, as I said, for the French being polite means showing respect. So, if a salesperson is not polite with a customer, he/she is not going to show respect and he/she will not be considered as professional. This is obviously very related. But, if you're polite to your parents, you're not professional, because it's not a professional setting. You're just being polite.
Is politeness perceived as insincere?
So, no. Being polite is not perceived as being insincere. On the other hand, if you pretend to be polite and it shows, then yes, it will be considered as insincere. But, in general, in France politeness is very well seen.
I'll see you soon for new adventures, in French of course! 🇫🇷