The Language of Negotiation: A Handbook of Practical Strategies for Improving Communication

By Joan Mulholland | Go to book overview

Chapter 1

Language and culture
This section raises issues concerning the three factors, language, culture and discourse, that constitute negotiation. Though language, culture and discourse interlock to form negotiation, they are separated here for analytic convenience. READER WORK Consider the ideas discussed here in relation to your own negotiating experience as speaker and hearer.(PRACTICE sections are provided to assist in this process.) GOAL To increase awareness of the factors that impact on negotiation.
LANGUAGE
The functions of language are deeply embedded in human behaviour and there is little in our lives as social beings in which language does not play an important part. The aspects of language that are of relevance to negotiation are:
1 its role in creating meaning out of the world for social use;
2 the means language adopts in order to realise meaning;
3 its dependence on history and culture;
4 its work as a socially bonding device.

LANGUAGE’S ROLE IN CREATING MEANING

The most important capacity that language has is its power to realise or actualise some speaker’s or writer’s idea, impression, attitude or emotion. Our understanding of the world is not merely expressed in words; it actually comes into existence, is realised through them. That is, language does not work by putting into words some previously existing event in the world, the information about which is then communicated to the hearer. Rather, language works to make some of the phenomena of the world into ‘events’, while ignoring others. By ‘events’ here is meant not only happenings of a physical kind but also (and more importantly) ideas, values and opinions. Language, as it were, imposes digital distinctions on the world,

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