New answers tagged politeness
A plain form + か does sound a little more rough or direct, I think. Normally it would be said without the か or with の instead as it's a little softer. できますか, however, is not direct at all and is a totally acceptable way to ask something politely. In polite keigo type situations, you may in fact here できますでしょうか or いただけますでしょうか. Technically this is incorrect. ...
As istraci points out, ご苦労様です is usually used to someone below you in position. Here is what an alc article says: 「お疲れ様です」と「ご苦労様です」の使い分けは？ 「お疲れ様です」には大きく２種類の用法が認められます。ひとつは（１）他人が何らかの労働や作業に従事したのを労う用法です。もうひとつは（２）共同で労働や作業を行った人同士が互いを労う用法です。 （１）「お父さん、今日も一日お仕事お疲れ様でした」 （２）「じゃ、どうもお疲れ様です」「あ、お疲れ様」 お疲れ様です has two meanings: To say thanks for ...
I think another aspect or nuance of ご苦労様 is to express gratitude for (literal) labor, e.g. in a situation where someone has to physically exert themselves for your benefit - like to thank a carpenter or plumber. I'd think in daily white collar work life お疲れ様 is going to get used a lot more.
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