Building Rapport in Electronic Mail Using Accommodation Theory

By Crook, Connie W.; Booth, Rosemary | SAM Advanced Management Journal, Winter 1997 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Building Rapport in Electronic Mail Using Accommodation Theory


Crook, Connie W., Booth, Rosemary, SAM Advanced Management Journal


Introduction

Competent communicators must be able to assess the communication environment and adapt their message accordingly to achieve their goal. Thus, to be effective (i.e. to achieve one's goal in communicating the message), competent communicators adapt their communication style to that of the recipients. They do this by developing a common language among the participants in the communication. With the emergence of computer-mediated communication systems (CMCS) as a medium of organizational communication, the basic features of the communication i.e., the message, the channel, and the sender/reader need to be reexamined. The author of a written message receives no immediate feedback from the message reader as to the interpretation of the message. With oral communication, feedback in the form of additional questions, pauses, and voice inflections provide the communicators personal cues to the interpretation of the message. These cues or contextual factors are absent in written communication. In written communication, the words provide the primary method of determining message meaning.

In electronic communication, the rapidity of response, the jargon and symbols used, and the informality of the message give additional meaning to the communication. Thus, to communicate effectively the author must accommodate the message to the reader by adjusting it to reflect the reader's communication style. If an author recognizes the reader's preferred word choices and uses language consistent with the reader's preference, it is thought to promote rapport between the author and the reader and provide increased understanding of the message (Bandler & Grinder, 1975).

When determining the meaning of a written message, the reader must rely on the systems by which "individuals encode, transfer, guide, and modify behavior" (Dowd & Pety, 1982). According to Dowd and Pety (1982), an individual has one of three preferred channels: visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. Grinder and Bandler (1976) note that one can identify an individual's preferred channel by examining the verbs, adverbs, and adjectives the person uses.

This study examines how the author's preferred word choices in electronic mail messages can be identified through a computer evaluation. The preferred word choices refer to the verbs, adverbs, and adjectives that a person uses to represent a preferred auditory, kinesthetic, or verbal channel. Individual written messages were evaluated using a computer program that recognizes the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic words that an individual uses to answer questions, solve problems, or think (Bandler and Grinder, 1975).

Computer-Mediated Communication Systems

Computer-mediated communication systems include computer conferencing, computer bulletin boards, videotex, facsimile, voice and electronic mail (Rice, 1987). Studies of CMCS suggest that these systems are not automated versions of existing off-line media but a "new medium with their own advantages, disadvantages, social dynamics, problems, and opportunities" (Hiltz & Turoff, 1985, p. 680). Advantages of using CMCS include reducing paper storage (Cole, 1988); eliminating telephone tag (Olson & Lucas, 1982); overcoming geographical constraints; masking of political, cultural, and symbolic information (Rice, 1987); participating in the communication at the time and rate of the reader's own choosing (Hiltz & Turoff, 1978); and facilitating creative approaches to problem solving (Peterson, 1990). Other advantages attributed to the use of computer-mediated communication systems include increases in personal productivity, changes in work tasks (Crawford, 1982), removal of organizational and departmental barriers and norms, and reduction of face-to-face contact (Kiesler, 1986). Sproull and Kiesler (1991 a) suggest that computer-mediated communication systems allow people to easily transfer messages to others.

Despite the numbers of advantages associated with CMCS, there are some problems with communicating electronically.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Building Rapport in Electronic Mail Using Accommodation Theory
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.