‘Powerless Language’ for Powerful Communication: Delineating Influence in Group Decision Making

By Zuraidah Ali.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Influence is often seen as a strategy and tactic in the attempt to command power in group communication. Literature has discovered several influence strategies and tactics which are often used in business negotiations, policy debates and also practical day-to-day endeavours. Positioning influence in the context of consensual small group decision making in ESL, this study develops a language perspective to delineating influence, as group members exert influence to convince each other either to accept or reject preliminary proposals. The study employs the case study qualitative methodology which involves three types of data collection techniques: observation, focus group interview and reflective journaling. The sample constitutes fifteen English speaking undergraduates from a private university in Malaysia. Findings lead to thematic coding using the constant comparative method of data analysis. Results show that “powerless language” as it is represented by the politeness theory in language, contributes to influence and adds to the existing influence strategies, tactics, and models, as it is positioned in the consensual small group decision making context.

Keywords: Influence, Group Decision Making, Politeness Theory, ESL Speaking

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 16, Issue 10, pp.509-520. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.278MB).

Zuraidah Ali

Lecturer, Languages and Communication, University Tenaga Nasional, Kajang, Selangor, Malaysia

Zuraidah Ali is a Senior lecturer at the Department of Languages and Communication at University Tenaga Nasional, Malaysia. She has been teaching English for fifteen years. Her research interests include persuasive communication, speaking skills in ESL, and group decision making. In her effort to promote critical reading and writing, she maintains an academic blog http://speakup-avenue.blogspot.com that encourages ESL learners and interested individuals to speak their minds.


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