'Powerless Language' for powerful communication: Delineating influence in group decision making

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-520
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Learning
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education

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