This post caused great hilarity on my Facebook wall the other day. British diplomacy is a minefield for foreigners. My students can never get enough lessons in being diplomatic but they still sometimes come to me and say ‘Why do English speakers say sorry all the time?’. ‘What do you mean if someone asks me how I am, I am not supposed to tell them?’.
Some of the things I teach them are to say sorry I didn’t make myself clear when what you are thinking is you weren’t listening, and I’m afraid I don’t quite see it that way instead of you’re wrong.
British people tend to be the most polite with other English speaking nations being more direct, but all native English speakers to some extent use diplomatic language to soften the blow of bad news.