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Deconstructing impoliteness in professional discourse: The social psychology of workplace mobbing. A cross-disciplinary contribution with conclusions for the intercultural workplace

Authors
  • Meyerhuber, Sylke1
  • 1 artec Sustainability Research Centre University of Bremen, Enrique-Schmidt-Str. 7/SFG 3310 , (Germany)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Lodz Papers in Pragmatics
Publisher
De Gruyter
Publication Date
Dec 16, 2020
Volume
16
Issue
2
Pages
235–264
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/lpp-2020-0011
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

Workplace politeness concerns the structural, interactional and individual level. Using the example of mobbing, it is illustrated how small acts of impoliteness can lead to the destruction a person psychologically and physically. Particularly, so-called downward mobbing is an increasing problem worldwide; most of the cases are orchestrated by superiors, the people subordinates depend on the most. Data clearly illustrate the social toxin created by up to 45 seemingly small actions in five areas of work life. These actions result in health hazards and ultimately loss of jobs. By example of workplace harassment, it is illustrated how systematic acts of impoliteness are used to manipulate a person's emotion and identity, to ensure anxiety-born solidarity in others while abusing power, with high costs for the target, the organisation, and society. The discussion gives way to considerations about intercultural cooperation at the workplace, showing similarities between subtle devaluations in intercultural communication called microaggression and what has been discussed as mobbing. Overall, impoliteness is deconstructed as a sign of degrading social bonds, security and health, thereby raising awareness of the importance of intercultural interaction without microaggression. The practical value of linguistic impoliteness research and its connection to work psychology becomes apparent.

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