Factors of Politeness Strategies

Brown and Levinson emphasize that choosing a particular politeness strategy is determined by three factors, namely

social distance
cost of imposition

By considering the potential relationship between speaker and addressee, the speaker tries to choose upon the right way to express him- or herself. Note, that the mentioned factors are not independent of each other. In most cases great social distance also involves a greater difference in power, whereas someone we know very well or with whom we share the same interests usually belongs to the same social category as we do. Thus we certainly would try more to avoid offense when dealing with an official than with a close friend.

Politeness Strategies in Different Forms of Communication (Research Exercise)