Article

The central role of politeness in business communication: The appropriateness principle as the way to enhance business communication efficiency

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Abstract

The paper focuses on practical consequences of exploitation of applied linguistics, and moreover intercultural linguistics, in everyday business communication and modern management from the viewpoint of politeness principles. The authors assume that the intentional use of the theoretical principles of intercultural linguistics concerning politeness strategies can possibly improve business communication efficiency in the current intercultural environment. Therefore, intercultural linguistics is a pragmatic discipline with potential utilization in everyday business communication and international management practices. Politeness as a basic communicative principle has recently experienced a wide interest of scholars as the area of interactional pragmatics examining a vast range of topics connected to languages and their varieties and their interaction in the context of culture; however, the practical implications are still missing. The authors try to use local data to show how politeness principles and their practical exploitation can be manifested in a particular cultural context, namely the Czech Republic, and focus on projecting our identity in language and the means we use to achieve interactional goals.

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... When it comes to pragmatics in business communication, it seems that its importance is somehow diminished, even though we all know its important role. Pikhart and Koblizkova (2017) claim that intercultural linguistics, as a pragmatic discipline, is not given the importance it deserves. According to them, using politeness strategies for instance, as part of intercultural linguistics, can really improve business communication efficiency. ...
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In recent years, there has been an increase in the interest of researchers of Applied Linguistics in general, and ESP specifically, regarding the development of pragmatic and sociolinguistic competence in ESP. However, the focus on Business English has not been specific as much as it is necessary. This obviously includes North Macedonia too. There are some studies conducted in this field, but, there can never be something such as too much research. Business English is a course in programs of Economics, Marketing and Finances as well as Business Administration, and students are given the opportunity to learn and prepare themselves for their future job. Nonetheless, one of the many questions that arise is whether the development of pragmatic and sociolinguistic competence is an objective for Business English teachers at all? And then there are other follow-up questions regarding the external factors that affect these objectives, such as conditions, books or students’ prior knowledge of English. The idea for this study came as a need more than anything else. Seeing students after two or three terms of attending a Business English course, lacking pragmatic and sociolinguistic competences, motivated me to get into this research and see the outcomes of teaching Business English in the Higher education in North Macedonia. It seems that our students just broaden their knowledge they have been taught prior to coming to university. If they have a certain level of proficiency in English, they improve very little after attending these ESP courses. That is why this study aimed to research if these competences are possessed by students who study Business (or similar fields) through a survey, and if not, see where the problems may lay, as well as suggest possible recommendations for improvement.
... They have brought new challenges but also benefits, which must be analyzed so that they can be used more efficiently. As mentioned above, the current business and managerial communication can be defined by two crucial aspects, namely, interconnectedness and interculturality [20,21]. What will these mean for the current aspects of business communication? ...
Article
Current managerial communication in the global business world has recently experienced dramatic and unprecedented changes connected to the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in business and managerial communication. The objective of this paper is to analyze the changes in ICT-enhanced business and managerial communication in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the Czech Republic. The use of ICT in business and managerial communication is obvious and brings various benefits, but it also has some drawbacks that should be identified and analyzed. From a methodological point of view, this study is twofold. Firstly, we conduct a systematic review of the current literature on the topic of business and managerial communication, providing an understanding of the recent development in the area of business and managerial communication. Secondly, we conduct qualitative research into the current state of ICT-enhanced managerial and business communication in several SMEs in the Czech Republic. The findings of the literature research show that there are two key aspects that define modern business and managerial communication, i.e., interculturality and interconnectedness. These two aspects of business and managerial communication are very recent, and they bring many challenges that must be considered in order to optimize communication. These altered communication paradigms have the potential to improve global competitiveness and produce new opportunities in the global market. The second part of the research shows that the general awareness of the changes in business communication is limited, and this could potentially pose a threat to business and managerial communication, leading to a loss of opportunities and reduced competitiveness. The majority of global-based companies have already become culture-, communication-, technology-and information-dependent, and ignoring or neglecting this fact presents a significant risk, which may be one of the biggest threats to global competitiveness. Since the success of SMEs is critical for the development of the national economy, it is recommended that company communication be continuously enhanced by frequent training at all organizational levels. This presents a challenge for educational institutions and training centers, managers and businesspeople, of creating communication competencies that would be highly rewarded in the global business environment.
... Spencer-Oatey and Franklin (2009) state there has been relatively little research carried out on (mis)understanding and rapport in intercultural interaction, and the culture-comparative approach represents the largest proportion of it. Koblizkova and Pikhart (2017) carried out research in 2013-2015 with the aim of applying a pragmatic approach to everyday communication in a business context. The research was carried out to collect information from ELF users to analyse their rapport skills. ...
Article
The paper offers insight into pragmatic aspects of English as a lingua franca (ELF) and potential implications for intercultural communication by presenting the results of research into rapport carried among Czech, English and German university students. The three cultural groups were compared in terms of their cultural independence in rapport management using multiple-choice discourse completion tasks MDCTs based on scenarios addressing specifically issues of face (face-threatening and face-saving acts), implicitness/explicitness, positive/negative politeness, and relational and transactional language functions. Their mutual and pairwise comparisons showed nuances in which the surveyed groups varied in their motivations. Though all the groups, regardless of their cultural background, overlapped in their genuine effort to make relational choices to maintain rapport, the English group manifested more relational interactions, and even at the cost of miscommunication they left the messages in the hands of a recipient. The English group tended to manifest explicitness only when there might be cost to their public status, whereas the Czech and German groups saw the value of interaction in explicit statement of the truth. They neglected the cost of face-threatening acts as they had not fully decoded the rapport impairment caused by the use of transactional interactions. The findings imply that ELF as a medium of intercultural communication needs to turn more attention to the values of the involved speakers and hearers, to equip them with competence to carefully formulate their own ideas as well as broaden their understanding of the motives of the others.
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How and when do employees confront one another for stealing their ideas? Business communication literature on confronting unethical behavior is synthesized with moral licensing theory to better understand responses to unethical actors about unjustified credit taking in the workplace. In this message production experiment, working adults ( N = 344) were randomly assigned to respond to a supervisor, peer coworker, or subordinate who stole or ignored the participant’s intellectual contributions. Content and statistical analyses revealed subordinates were comparatively less direct when confronting bosses, suggesting third-party moral licensing and moral credentialing were measurable in communication patterns. Importantly, this dynamic was not attributable to perceptions of task interdependence. Instead, subordinates perceived the stealing or ignoring of their ideas to be less unethical than did bosses. Additionally, individuals whose ideas have been stolen in the workplace were less confrontational compared to those who have not. Thus, data suggest incremental acquiescence to this form of workplace wrongdoing, particularly when the transgressor holds high hierarchical status. Taken together, these data may explain how recognition for ideas tends to spread vertically to bosses (labeled here, vertical credit creep), which may function to reinforce established power arrangements and to perpetuate unjustified credit taking in the workplace.
Article
In this article, we conduct a comparative study which investigates challenges faced by isiZulu-speaking (L1) students with regard to appropriate politeness strategies in English (L2) business letters. We draw on the well-established distinction between interactional and transactional intentions in business writing. Data consists of a comparative bilingual business writing task as well as of a questionnaire that sought to identify specific challenges experienced by students in business communication. Findings indicate that students mostly implement politeness strategies successfully in their L1. In the L2, however, they manage to communicate transactional intentions but struggle with interactional intentions because they often do not address their audience appropriately and adopt unsuccessful politeness strategies. The article argues that isiZulu politeness constructions could empower students to communicate more efficiently when writing in their second language, English. The study may have practical implications for the teaching of business communication and may lead to critical reflections on the relationships between English and isiZulu politeness constructions and strategies in business communication.
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