Some Japanese friends explained to me that adding のほど just makes the speech sound more formal/polite and business-like, but the logic behind the use of ほど (meaning "degree" or "extent", as I know) in such cases still baffles me. Could someone pls explain? Many thanks in advance for your answers.
The usage and function of:
「Noun + の + ほど」
is explained very nicely in デジタル大辞泉, which says:
My TL of that would be:
"In the form of 「…のほど」, it is used to soften the expression by avoiding a declaration."
Thus, this means that it sounds softer and slightly more sophisticated to say, for instance:
than to say:
because the latter can sound too direct.