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A polite lie is a lie that a politeness standard requires, and which is usually known to be untrue by both parties. It is heavily dependent on culture if such lies are acceptable. A common polite lie in international etiquette is to decline invitations because of "scheduling difficulties".
The East Asian "saving face" may require this. A person or institution states an untruth, and by social convention, expresses something that cannot be said as such. As such, the polite lie is euphemistic. However, a person from a foreign culture, not recognizing the implied untruth, will find this insulting. For example, in Japanese, answering "no" is seen as impolite. Therefore, one answers "yes", but actually does nothing.
A book written by Kyoko Mori titled Polite Lies discusses the author being caught in between two cultures after moving from Japan to the United States at the age of 20.
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