She was shocked when this happened.

Her voice was shaking.

 “I have no idea why he reacted that wayHe seemed really upset! I feel so stupid. No idea what I did to make him seem so angry.”
“I’m curious…what did you say to him?”
You’re wrong.” 
“Oh….I see.”
This is a quote from one of my recent coaching sessions. My client is a Dutch executive. Which means, at times, she translated from Dutch to English when she was speaking English. And sometimes, it didn’t work out in her favor.

This happened to be one of those times.

The Dutch language (and the French, Spanish, and German, among others) has a formal and informal style actually built into their language. For example, there’s a formal way to say ‘you’ and an informal way to say ‘you’. And there’s an unwritten rule about when to use each one, and when to make the delicate transition from a formal to an informal communication style. I love that.

We don’t have that shizzle in English.
We. Only. Have. You. (And without you, sweet name, these newsletters would get so lonely!)


So…how do you express formality and informality in English? We use different words. And we change the word order, depending on who we are talking to and what we are talking about. 
In English we also negotiate differently than in some other cultures. We try to separate the person from his or her ideas. We disagree with the idea, but not with the individual expressing it. If you say that someone is wrong, it comes across as being quite harsh. That’s what my client did, which explains why her English counterpart seemed a bit offended. We try to use ‘softening’ language to give bad news, or to express disagreement, and increase the formality when the situation gets more serious. Hello ‘Unfortunately’, ‘I’m afraid that’, and ‘I see where you’re coming from, however…’. 🙂 

If you meet me in Communication Nation’s Business Brownstone, you can learn all about negotiating in English, and creating clear dealmakers and dealbreakers. I’ll also show you in the Vocabulary Valley how to change your vocabulary from a more casual, informal style, to a formal one, and in the Writing Well, I’ve got lots of templates and useful phrases for giving feedback, expressing urgency, apologising, and so much more!


We have a Forum for every course and this is where people are truly connecting – sharing their stories, challenges, asking me questions (I am there for you every day and answer every question I get), and really motivating each other. It’s a magical place indeed. Here is what’s happening in the Forum right now: 

Join us!

Click HERE to join Communication Nation and start communicating like a boss! Doors close on Wednesday night. I do not know when they will open again.

Love, Buffi ‘Like a Boss’ Duberman 🙂

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