chapter  5
32 Pages

Language and Communication Among Organizational Members

Few applied psychology texts include a chapter on language and similarities and differences in language styles across groups. There are two reasons why we have included one. First, language provides the basis for communication and miscommunication in work organizations. Numerous studies have shown that a person’s speech characteristics or style influences the way the person is perceived and evaluated by others. In this chapter, we suggest that the “trivia” of everyday interactions (e.g., smiling, downcast eyes, interruptions, deep-pitched voice, touching, swearing) play a key role in shaping the larger context of work (Haslett et al., 1992; Henley & Thorne, 1977). Second, the speech styles that men and women use or are expected to use reinforce sex or gender stereotypes, and if expectations are violated or not met, this can result in negative consequences for both sexes. How men and women speak influences the degree to which others view them as powerful or powerless or effective as a leader.