Ever since Brown and Levinson's (1978, 1987) seminal work, politeness research in linguistics has been thriving. It is only in the last couple of years, however, that alternative ways of looking at politeness have been investigated in more detail and have gained more followers. This paper aims at explaining one of these ways – the discursive approach to politeness – and argues for employing the notion of relational work to move away from a dichotomy between politeness and impoliteness. Instead, it is argued that relational work comprises negatively marked behavior (impoliteness/rudeness), positively marked behavior (politeness), as well as nonmarked, politic behavior which is merely appropriate to the interaction in question and not polite as such. The interactants' assessments of linguistic behavior with respect to norms of appropriateness in social interaction is argued to be at the heart of politeness considerations rather than knowledge of prefabricated inherent linguistic devices. These theoretical considerations are illustrated with a discussion of non-elicited, written data.