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Words and Actions

Apr 23, 2021

Are you suffering from zoom fatigue, meeting migraines or the occasional shark bite? Have a listen to our next episode and find out more about office diary sweet spots, biochronology, meeting categorizations and how to deal with sharks in conflict resolution. As always, we bring in the expert advice of an academic and we’ll discuss the added value of the Quaker peace testimony with a workplace mediator. In the analysis, we’re heading for the deep waters of the notorious Handforth parish council meeting. There will be blood.

For more info and a transcript head over to
Episode 18 is on meetings and conflicts, so for the academically minded among our listeners, here are three sources of linguistic and conversation analytical research into meetings:

Handford, M. (2010).
The language of business meetings.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Incidentally, Michael Handford was our first ever interview guest, way back in episode 1.]

Handford, M.,
& Koester, A. (2019). The construction of conflict talk across workplace contexts: (Towards) a theory of conflictual compact.

Holmes, J., &
Marra, M. (2004). Leadership and managing conflict in meetings. Pragmatics,

The study about “collaboration overload” that Bernard cites at the beginning of the episode is reported on here.
The second study he refers to, by online scheduling service When Is Good, is reported on here.
(Note that the article also mentions the Quaker practice of starting a meeting with silence, which anticipates our first interview later in the episode.) Erika follows up on this with a study that demonstrates how the time of day when an earnings conference call is scheduled can influence the positivity (or lack thereof) of analysts’ and managers’ tone:

Chen, J., Demers, E., & Lev, B. (2018). Oh what a beautiful
morning! Diurnal influences on executives and analysts: Evidence from conference calls.
Management Science, 64(12),

It’s important to note that meetings take very different
forms, involve different people and have different purposes. We describe a diagram which can be found on our website

Moving on to conflicts, Erika and Veronika have written about types and stages of conflicts, and about people’s conflict styles, in chapter 9 of their textbook:

Darics, E., & Koller, V. (2018).
Language in Business, Language at Work. London: Palgrave Macmillan Education.

You can test your own conflict resolution style with the Thomas-Kilmann questionnaire.

In the first interview, with coach and workplace mediator Allegra Stone, we talk about how her Quaker beliefs influence her work. Quakers in Britain have published a toolkit about engaging with conflict that is based on their peace testimony.

Our second interview guest, Bernadette Vine, is a member of the Language in the Workplace project at Victoria University
of Wellington, New Zealand (Te Herenga Waka, Aotearoa). A few of her recent publications are:

Lazzaro-Salazar, M., Marra, M., Holmes, J., & Vine,
B. (2015). Doing power and negotiating through disagreement in public meetings. Pragmatics and Society, 6(3),

Vine, B. (ed.) (2018).
The Routledge Handbook of
Language in the Workplace. Abingdon: Routledge.

Vine, B. (2020).
Introducing Language in the
Workplace. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

In the last part of the episode, we analyse the now infamous Handforth parish council meeting from February 2021. In the next episode, we’ll be looking at the related topic of negotiations.