Business discourse: an analysis of business Communication between sales personnel and Customers in Kiambu county.
Ikaria, Nancy M.
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This study discusses the discourse structure and the pragmatic aspects of sales personnel-customer business interaction. The data was collected from the interaction Of sales personnel and customers drawn from four companies in Thika district, which were purposively selected. The discourse structure and the pragmatic aspects are largely manifested in the linguistic interaction between the sales personnel and customers as they engage each other in a business context. The structure of sales personnel-customer interaction makes it a discernable discourse characterized by structures such as Conversational opening and closings, turn-taking, various discourse topics, communicative events and speech acts. This study is guided by the premise that the issues it foregrounds will go a long way in addressing the research problem as it examines the discourse structure and pragmatic aspects of a contextualized sales personnel-customer discourse. In view of the research problem, this study intended to examine conversational structure of sales personnel-customer discourse such as topic initiation and organization, openings and closings of the conversations, identify and describe sequences of communicative events and the contextual factors that influence interpretation of various speech acts, describe business acts performed by different speech acts; and to discuss how sales personnel and customers use cooperation strategies during interaction. We argue that such interactional features as have been discussed in abstract forms in earlier studies should not be assumed to apply universally to other cultures and contexts. To answer the specific questions and achieve the objectives that guided this study, a series of surreptitious occurring conversations between sales personnel and their customers were recorded using a Sony IC Recorder (ICD-MX20). Then the purposively eight recorded excerpts were transcribed and analysed. In explicating the data, an eclectic approach was employed, that is four theories, namely, Conversational Analysis, the Speech Act Theory, Cooperative Principle and Ethnomethodology. The Conversational Analysis approach was useful in analysing the conversational structures, while Ethnomethodology and the Speech Act Theory were used to explain communicative events and contextual factors that sales personnel and their customers employ to interpret various utterances. In addition, the Speech Act Theory was instrumental in explicating the business acts as realised in sales personnel and customer discourse context. The Cooperative Principle by Grice together with its basic tenets was used to explain the art of cooperation between the sales personnel and the customers. The findings of the study reveal that sales personnel-customer interaction is uniquely structured and that business acts incrementally constitute the communicative events that ensure successful business interaction. As such, this study which analyses the language use of sales personnel -customer discourse in a Kenyan context helps to boost the body of knowledge in business discourse studies.