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When offering something based on good will, is it polite to convey to them that this is being done as a gesture of good will?

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    If an employee is given something which is not usually allowed, is it okay to say As a gesture of goodwill we are doing this for you?
    – Ginger
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 13:14
  • Are you using the phrase as a euphemism for "free"? Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 13:28

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It all depends upon your point of view.

Saying "as a gesture of good will" is normally not necessary when actual good will exists. You would typically say this when you are trying to:

Engender good will. (Although the gesture should speak for itself)

Appear magnanimous and more powerful than the other person (Probably the more common usage)

Mitigate an otherwise lousy deal (also fairly common)

So, in general, the phrase itself isn't overtly offensive, but in context it may be.

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In the context of employment (as mentioned by the comment), it can also be useful to indicate that a given gesture is not considered a right, and that the employer therefore reserves the right to act differently in the future.

For instance, if the normal rules for asking time off are that time should be requested two weeks in advance, and the boss waives this rule once, it is beneficial to highlight this.

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It depends. It seems pretty redundant though. A gift pretty much signifies what you are saying. If you have to say it there would need to be context - maybe you had a fight with person and would say it to convey that you don't want to fight with them.

Just said "normally" it sounds a little patronizing but that is me.

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  • I agree with it sounding patronizing.
    – David M
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 13:52
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Using the phrase "as a gesture of good will" is usually reserved for formal relationships and relationship building. It's an emphatic supplement to the act (the act of giving, for example), for the purpose of conveying that the intent of the act is for a purpose. The purpose, of course, is to create or improve good will between the parties.

While I say it's reserved for formal relationships, you can have instances where it is used between parties who have both a formal and informal relationship. For example, the people you work with are known to you on both levels. At some point in time, one of them may have to address your formal working relationship (maybe to renew your contract, for example). At that point, they might use the expression. But it's in the context of the formal relationship.

You might use it informally. To mend your relationship with someone, you might say it while at that same time performing some act to improve the relationship. To do this informally is to stress how seriously you take the personal relationship.

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