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Being polite and friendly

Part 3

This episode's vocabulary


  • Trait (noun) - a particular characteristic that can produce a particular type of behaviour.
  • Agreeableness (noun) - the quality of being friendly and pleasant.
  • Disagreeableness (noun) - opposite of agreeableness.
  • To gain (verb) - to get something that is useful, that gives you an advantage, or that is in some way positive, especially over a period of time.
  • Promotion (noun) - the act of encouraging something to happen or develop.
  • Crucial (adj.) - extremely important or necessary.
  • Edge (noun) - an advantage over other people.
  • Disingenuous (adj.) - (of a person or their behaviour) slightly dishonest, or not speaking the complete truth.
  • Boundary (noun) - the limit of a subject or principle.
  • Folk (noun) - people, especially those of a particular group or type.
  • Directness (noun) - the quality of saying what you think in a very honest way, without worrying about other people's opinions.
  • Impolite (adj.) - behaving in a way that is not socially correct and shows a lack of understanding of and care for other people's feelings.
  • Hostile (adj.) - unfriendly and not liking something.
  • Obligation (noun) - something that you must do.

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Questions and Answers


M: What kinds of people are usually friendly?

R: I suspect that most people are quite friendly when it comes down to it. Though, if we think about personality traits, then probably those who are high in openness and low in disagreeableness will be the best, since they're most likely to be, well, accepting of people, and less likely to argue with them.

M: Why are people friendly with people they don't like?

R: I'd imagine it's since they have something to gain like a promotion at work or a crucial edge in a situation that might not be going well for them. That's a bit disingenuous, but it does explain why people do it.

M: What are the differences between being friendly and being polite?

R: Well, friendliness is an effort to establish a connection whereas politeness is actually about maintaining boundaries.

M: Do you think politeness is different in different parts of the world?

R: It's probably expressed differently, but the concept of connectedness or lack thereof will still define it. I mean, for example, politeness is expressed by social distance in the English language, whereas elsewhere, it's a lack of eye contact.

M: How do people show politeness in your country?

R: Well, it's sort of like I said. It's expressed more through, well, in language, it's expressed through this idea of distance. So lots of past tenses, for example, or past forms, if we talk about body language, then maintaining eye contact, some or alternatively, some people bow their heads to show that they're of a lower status. I don't think that's common now, but it used to be. Other things like shaking hands, for example, in my country, you shake hands with everybody, but in other countries, you don't shake hands with everyone, you shake hands with men, for example.

M: Are there any differences between urban and rural people being polite?

R: I suppose country folk have a reputation for being rough and ready. And so their social graces are seen as less developed or simpler. But I'm not sure how you would even begin to go about investigating that distinction, nor even measuring it. I don't see any, like, from my experience, I haven't seen any. But perhaps there are.

M: What do you think of straightforward people?

R: Oh, I love it when like, select people are direct. And I'm not on the receiving end of the directness, or at least not without the edge of the directness being taken off. You know exactly where you stand and how best to approach the situation. It's not for everyone, but it's definitely for me. Like I have a lot to get done, so I benefit from this sort of approach to things.

M: And in what situations, it's not a good idea to be straightforward?

R: Well, probably not in very emotionally charged situations. So if you're at a funeral, and someone asks, so how much of the money am I getting? That might not be a very great time to be direct with people about things.

M: And do you think is better to be always polite? Or there are some moments when you can be impolite?

R: I think 99% of the time, it's a good idea to be polite, but there's always situations where being impolite is a good idea, like around your friends, for example. Like you can be impolite as a joke, or if you really, well, I mean, in a situation where someone's being hostile towards you, you're under no obligation to be polite to them, are you?

M: Do you think more people will be more polite and friendly in the future?

R: I think it will remain the same. Maybe people will express it differently. But I think people will maintain equal levels of politeness versus impoliteness. I don't think that's likely to change. That's human nature.

M: Thank you, Rory, for your lovely answers! You've been really polite and super friendly!

R: For a high score.

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Discussion


M: I don't know, was it band nine, do you think?

R: Well, let's investigate this grammar and vocabulary and see.

M: Yeah.

R: First of all, it's probably a good thing to point out the different things I said to distance myself from the answers and generalize less so. I suspect that, I'd imagine, it's probably, I suppose.

M: Yeah. You can also say like I reckon, like I think, in my view, I guess that, I'd say that. So the first question was about what kind of people are usually are friendly. And you say like, most people are quite friendly when it comes down to it. It comes down to it like to a situation. And then you said like about personality traits. We call it personality traits, like traits of character.

R: Yes.

M: Like, who is usually polite? Like open people are usually polite, cheerful people are polite. Then you mentioned the word disagreeable.

R: Disgreeableness.

M: Dear listener, could you repeat with me? Disagreeableness. Rory, please explain.

R: Disagreeableness is a character trait, it's how much you disagree with people.

M: Cool. A good one is like people are less likely to argue with them. So people who are polite and friendly are less likely to do something, for example. So, why are people friendly with people they don't like? Well, because sometimes people have to get promotion at work.

R: So something to gain.

M: Gain a promotion at work. Gain like get. And you also said an edge in a situation.

R: Yes. Or in this case, a crucial edge. Crucial just means important. But if you gain an edge, it's like an advantage that lets you win.

M: To gain a crucial edge in situation - to win the situation, to get some advantage. Yeah. And then you go like it's a bit disingenuous.

R: Disingenuous.

M: Disingenuous. Yes, dear listener, disingenuous. We can say disingenuous disagreeableness.

R: Disingenuous is when you're not being genuine. We've used this word before, I think. Haven't we?

M: Did we? Okay. Yeah, genuine is when you are, like, genuine, you're real. Disingenuine - not real, not genuine. And then there was this question, what are the differences between being friendly and polite? That's a difficult question. So polite and friendly. Are they the same or they're different?

R: No, they are different things completely.

M: And then here you can use nouns, friendliness and politeness. So to be friendly -friendliness, to be polite - politeness. Any more ideas about the differences?

R: I think I did a better job than the dictionary. I have to enunciate my "t's" now, otherwise Vanya will get annoyed at me for not pronouncing things clearly.

M: Yeah, because sometimes you're just too fast.

R: I am not too fast, I am just right.

M: Even I don't understand.

R: That's so rude. I think my explanation was great. What's not to understand about it?

M: Yeah, it was, it was great. Yeah, just come down. Jeez. So polite, friendly is generally warm, approachable and easy to relate with. Polite is well mannered and civilized. You see, so, dear listener, you can just use this one.

R: How is that different to what I said?

M: It's absolutely the same, I'm just repeating it.

R: Thank you.

M: For our listener to make sure they can talk about the differences. So, the differences between urban and rural people. Urban people live in cities, rural people live in a village or in rural areas where sheep are there. And Rory, you said that I suppose country folk means people, country people.

R: Yes. I was struggling for words to replace people.

M: Usually you just say people but well, country folk have a reputation for being...to have a reputation for doing something, for being rough and ready, I like that.

R: Yeah, rough and ready is just like, it's to do with how you behave and like you're always prepared for action. You don't have time for politeness necessarily, or you don't have time for the finer things. Rough around the edges is a good synonym. This is just the reputation. By the way, if you are from the countryside, and you disagree, then you're welcome to because this is just generalizing massively. And I said it was just the reputation, I didn't say it was the actual thing.

M: Yeah, true. Right, so people who live in the country, rural people tend to be simpler, more direct. You said less developed.

R: I said are seen as.

M: You said their social graces are seen as less developed. Right. So maybe social graces, you mean what?

R: Just being polite. Social graces is just another way of saying ways that you show politeness.

M: Yeah. So Rory, you also talked about straightforward people. And the question was about straightforward people. Who are these people who are straightforward?

R: Well, they tell people what they think, they don't try to be polite, or they seem not to try to be polite. I think it's the most important understanding of it.

M: And you paraphrased straightforward. You say, people who are direct.

R: Yes.

M: So direct people - straightforward people,

R: People who get to the point.

M: Who tell you everything to your face.

R: Well, I think telling people everything to their face is just being honest, isn't it? But that's related.

M: Yeah. Yeah, direct people, straightforward people, people who tell you everything to your face. Then you talked about emotionally charged situations.

R: I did, but that's just a really, well, advanced way of saying situations where there's lots of emotion involved. So it could be very tense or stressful situations.

M: Yeah. Or just you're waiting in a line, and then you get all emotional. Thank you very much for listening! Now you do know what to say about being polite and friendly.

R: Hopefully, the answers were friendly and helpful.

M: And polite.

R: And polite.

M: We are always polite. We're always polite.

R: Always polite, but sometimes direct.

M: Yes. Or, but we shouldn't be direct sometimes. It's IELTS. IELTS we are dealing with so...

R: We should be to the point.

M: Hugs and kisses. We'll see you in the next episode!

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