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An Interaction Approach To The Study Of Face-to-Face Business Communication

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Much of what happens in everyday business life remains unexplained, even if we study it by the use of traditional scientific methods. Maybe by using other scientific methods than the traditional ones access could be gained to what we call the hidden knowledge. The following discussion is mainly based on the method of participant observation. The data was collected within a, not yet finished, case study analysing a Swedish company distributing its products on the German market. One of the aspects focused was when the company meet and negotiate with its customers, face-to-face, that is in a traditional business call. The aim of this paper is to describe the content and the performance of a business conversation when an industrial seller and a buyer meet face-to-face.The result of our analysis is presented in a model. Our point of departure is the people that are interacting.There is a need for the parties in a business call to discuss more than solid professional matters. Therefore we distinguish between matters that concern business on the one hand and matters that have very little to do with the specific business on the other. Furthermore, people select and practice different modes to express messages. Two basic forms are those intended to inform and those influencing feelings. By combining the two dimensions four arenas of business conversation can be separated; the arenas for business information, general information, business theatre and social theatre. We argue that matters covered in these arenas require different kinds of knowledge and skill.

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