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Peculiarities of the communicative level of negotiation language in the English-language movies

Shikhalkina Tatiana Grigorievna

Postgraduate student, Educator, the department of English Language for the Humanities, National Research University Higher School of Economics; Postgraduate student, the department of English Linguistics, M. V. Lomonosov Moscow State University

101000, Russia, g. Moscow, ul. Myasnitskaya, 20

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Abstract: The object of this research the communicative peculiarities of negotiation language on the example of English-language movies. Due the growing attention to the means of successful negotiations, the authors raise the relevant question on the need to consider speech aspects of negotiation process. The goal of this work is to analyze the communicative strategies and tactics (“pressure”, “high opening offer”, “disqualification”, “guilt”, “salami”) in the process of negotiations from the perspective of their effectiveness in achieving desired communicative goals.
  Combination of theoretical overview of the strategies and tactics of negotiation, as well as analysis of the effectiveness of applying tactics to achieve goals of negotiating parties were chosen as the methods for this research.
  The novelty of this article consist in reference to communicative peculiarities of negotiations in movies that have not previously been the object of analysis in the area of communication studies. The results of this research allowed determining the key strategies and tactics of negotiation in the analyzed films, as well as defining their effectiveness in the negotiation process.

Keywords: effectiveness, business communication, discourse, communication, tactics, strategies, negotiations, communicative approach, movies, negotiation language

Negotiations currently take a significant portion of the business talks. There is an evident persistent trend towards an increase in the number of negotiations in various spheres of public life, such as politics, economics, management, etc. The issues of negotiation are explored in the works of Russian and foreign scholars. There are two key approaches towards the definition of business negotiations. In the broad sense, any “situation involving two or more sides recognizing difference in interests or values to which they seek or forced to find a compromise” is considered a negotiation [1, p. 3]. In a more precise sense, negotiations are viewed as a “special form of social interaction, involving at least two subjects with a common issue, differences in approaches or means of its resolution, clear structure and protocol for conducting the negotiation, and direct personal contact between the parties of verbal means of communication” [2, p. 14]. From the perspective of communicative approach, negotiations are based on three essential parameters. Firstly, negotiations are viewed in the context of previous and subsequent messages, interaction between parties, or in a broader social context. Secondly, accent is made on the dynamic nature of the negotiation process. Thirdly, communicative approach is aimed at determining the system of meanings, which largely depend on the negotiation situation [3, p. 240; 4. p. 221]. Usage of the communicative approach towards analysis of speech allows understanding that a person is not only able to freely structure their own communication strategy, but also possesses the ability to interpret actions of the interlocutor, including their speech. This allows concluding that depending on the comprehension of the statement of the interlocutor, as well as the ability to interpret them, a person can have an immense advantage in the negotiation process. All situations unfold in the context of one or another discourse. Negotiation discourse is one of the most complicated types of discourse, since trusting relations can only be reached through specific strategies and tactics.

In this article, the authors analyze the communicative peculiarities of conducting business negotiations from the position of the communicative approach, and determine the key strategies and tactics contributing to achieving communicative goals.

To reach their communicative goals, the parties of a negotiation follow various strategies, which are formed in the course of the ongoing discourse. Principled negotiations and positional bargaining can be highlighted as some of the key strategies [2, p. 112]. Their main difference consists in the fact that the goal of principled strategy of negotiation involves equal constructive interaction, while the goal of positional bargaining is to argue your own position with minimal concessions for the other side of the negotiation. Both strategies involve various tactics for achieving the goals of negotiation. Using the classification of tactics from the works of Y. Nergesh. M. M. Lebedev, I. I. Lukashuk and L. Bellangé, the following can be determined:

1. “Pressure” tactic implies application of threat or false threat, giving an ultimatum.

2. “High opening offer” tactic is when the parties to a negotiation ask for more than they realistically hope to receive.

3. “Disqualification” tactic is aimed at redirection of attention to personal qualities of the opponent, and distraction of attention instead of argumentation of the own position.

4. “Guilt” tactic involves blaming of the opponent and postulation of incurred damages.

5. “Salami” tactic suggests portioning information, expecting the opponent to give in first [5, p. 230; 6, p. 155; 7, p. 132; 8, p. 122].

Application of various tactics in the negotiation process is aimed at achieving personal goals. According to Roger Fisher and William Ury, the effectiveness of negotiation can be correctly assessed using the following criteria:

1. Negotiation must lead to a reasonable agreement when possible. An agreement can be considered reasonable if it meets most of the lawful interests of each side, fairly regulates conflicting interests, covers the entire term of agreement, takes into account public interests.

2. Negotiation must be efficient in expression or operation.

3. Negotiation must improve, or at least not harm, future relations between the parties [2, p. 21].

Let us examine the communicative peculiarities of the negation language on the example of English-language movies – “True Grit”, “Ocean’s Eleven”, “Nightcrawler”, “Intolerable Cruelty” from the perspective of efficiency of application of various tactics to achieve personal goals.

1. “Pressure” tactic.

· — When I say that a particular number is my lowest price, that's my lowest price. And you can be assured that I arrived at whatever that number is very carefully. Now, when I say that I want these things, I mean that I want them [9].

One of the opponents uses the “pressure” tactic, which expressed in a latent threat. By repeating his demands, he demonstrates dominant position and unwillingness to make any concessions.

The speaker did not reach his goal, as he was in the position of a buyer and did not have sufficient grounds for defending his position. No reasonable agreement was reached, and relations between the opponents were damaged due to unwillingness of the seller to compromise.

· — Oh, it's all very interesting. The ponies are yours, take them. Your father's horse was stolen by a murderous criminal. I have provided reasonable protection for the creature as per our implicit agreement. My watchmen had his teeth knocked out and can take only soup.

· — Then I will take it to the law.

· — You have no case [10].

This situation demonstrates usage of a clear threat of pursuing litigation in case of refusal to meet the demands of the opponent. In the end, the selected tactic yields success, since negotiating parties agrees on an acceptable price, despite the initial negative reaction. However, the relations between the two opponents significantly worsened.

The “pressure” tactic is widely covered in the analyzed material, and its usage most often contributes to achieving the goals of the negotiations, but leads to deterioration of relations between the parties.

2. “High opening offer” tactic.

— To increase your need, and improve my bargaining position.

— How much?

— $100,000.

— How much?

— $50,000.

— I need a number. Nine minutes I need a number [9].

Initially, one of the parties names an exaggerated price for the video tape, but later agrees to cut the price in half. Judging by how quickly the seller lowers the price, a conclusion can be made that he was not expecting to receive his initial number, rather exaggerated it to start the negotiation from a higher price. This tactic results in success, since the opponents agree on an acceptable price for both sides. The relations between the parties sour, since the buyer perceived the exaggerated opening offer negatively.

Miles: Please, let me handle this. All right, so much for the ice-breakers. What are you after, Freddy?

Bender: My client is prepared to settle for 50 percent of the marital assets.

(Miles sprays water)

Miles: Why only 50 Freddy? Why not a hundred? While we're dreaming, why not 150? Are you familiar with Kershner?

Miles: All right, Freddy, forget Kershner. What's your bottom line?

Bender: Primary residence, 30 percent of remaining assets.

Miles: What, are you nuts? Have you forgotten Kershner? [11]

In their first statement, one of the opponents proposes dividing the property equally and asks for 50% of the marital assets, but later lowers the bar and agrees to 30%. As the story developed, the parties reached mutual agreement and preserved business relations.

3. “Disqualification” tactic.

Miles: Please, Miles. Sit. Sit down. Freddy, I was sorry to hear about the Goldberger award . Pastry? (laugh of his colleague)

Bender: We did very well. We did very well.

Miles: Not to worry, Mrs. Rexroth. You're ably represented. I'm sure Freddy's just too modest to tell you he used to clerk for Clarence Thomas. Pastry? Going begging.

Bender: Don't try to bait me, Miles. If you have a proposal to make, let's hear it [11].

In order to distract attention of the interlocutor, one of the parties in the dialogue intentionally attempts to redirect the attention of the opponent towards an abstract topic that has nothing to do with the subject matter. The interlocutor diverts from the main issue, and the opponent gains an opportunity to reassert the price that he wants to get. The agreement was reached in favor of the seller, but the relations between the parties were damaged.

Bender: Kershner does not apply.

Miles: Bring this to trial, we'll see if Kershner applies.

Rex: What's Kershner?

Miles: Please, let me handle this.

Bender: Kershner was in Kentucky.

Miles: Kershner was in Kentucky?

Bender: Kershner was in Kentucky.

Miles: All right, Freddy, forget Kershner. What's your bottom line?

Bender: Primary residence, 30 percent of remaining assets [11].

In the course of a prolonged discussion on the portion of property that will go to the opponent in the divorce, the lawyer begins to show interest in the fate of a character who in no way pertains to the topic at hand, in order to distract the attention of the interlocutor and secure a favorable price for himself. The selected strategy is also successful, since the lawyer wins the case on division of property.

— Denham. Billy Tim Denham.

— Denham like a jean.

— That's it. Just like the jean.

Man, you got some lovely hands here. Do you moisturize?

— I'm sorry?

— I've tried lots of lotion. I even went fragrance-free for all year. Now my sister...she uses aloe vera with a little sunscreen in it. Ideally, we all should wear gloves to bed...but I found there was interference with my social agenda, you know. Plus, I react to the camphor. So I'm not into the traditional remedies.

I see. Let me tell you something. If you are willing to pay by cash...I might drop that down to seven …Sixteen each [12].

This example demonstrates deviation from the topic by extensive discussion of opponent’s appearance. This results in the opponent’s loss of focus on the main topic and agreeing to unfavorable conditions.

— I do not entertain hypotheticals. The world as it is, is vexing enough. Secondly, your valuation of the horse is high by about two $200. How old are you?

— If anything, my price is low. Why, Judy is a fine racing mare. I've seen her jumping eight-rail fence with a heavy rider. I am fourteen [10].

Discussing the price of the horse, the seller asks the question about the age, which does not pertain to the topic of the conversation, in order to distract the buyer, deliberately point out inequality between the opponents and lower the price. The agreement is reached by distraction of attention of the seller in the course of prolonged discussion of issues irrelevant to the topic.

We can observe that in the analyzed material the “disqualification” tactic is most prevalent, and always leads to the desired outcome to the one who uses it. In all mentioned cases, “disqualification” has a positive outcome, as its latent motive consists in the intentional friendly distraction of the opponent’s attention and defense of own position. By extensive discussion of irrelevant information, the negotiation process in most cases is prolonged.

4. “Guilt” tactic.

— Oh, I thought I might shop around up here next year but I guess we are doing alright in Little Rock. I'm Mattie Ross. Daughter of Frank Ross.

Aw, tragic thing . May I say, your father impressed me. With his manly qualities. He was a close trader but he acted a gentleman.

— Well I propose to sell those ponies back to you that my father bought.

— Well that I fear, is out of the question. I will see that they are shipped to you at my earliest convenience.

— We don't want the ponies now, we don't need them [10].

The main character in the movie sells a pony, while asking a high price. In the course of the dialogue, she mentions the fact that she is a daughter of her late father, to whom the opponent owes his wellbeing. Thus, she invokes pity towards herself and desire to meet her demands. The selected “guilt” tactic results in success; the main character of the story receives what she wants and maintains good relations with the other party.

5. “Salami” tactic.

— Well I propose to sell those ponies back to you that my father bought.

— …

And I want $300 for Papa's saddle horse that was stolen from your stable.

— …

— I will take $200 for Judy, plus $100 for the ponies. And $25 for the grey horse that Tom Chaney left. He was easily worth forty. That is $325 total .

— …

— The saddle is not for sale. I will keep it. Lawyer Dagget will prove ownership of the gray horse. He will come after you with a writ of replevin [10].

Following the “salami” tactic, the main character of the film rations her demands to the opponent. Gradually, the girl instills the high value of her goods in her, and convinces him to agree with her. The negotiation process is prolonged, but the parties reach a mutual agreement.

In the course of the research of communicative peculiarities of the negotiation language, the authors analyzed the key strategies and tactics for negotiating on the materials of the movies. In the end, it was determined that the parties to the negotiation follow strategies of principled negotiations and positional bargaining. The opponents were able to achieve their goals of communication by implementing various communicative tactics, namely: “pressure”, “high opening offer”, “disqualification”, “guilt”, “salami”. Especially successful and most effective from the communicative perspective seems to be the tactic of “disqualification”. Despite the prolonged negotiation process, in all presented situations it allows the opponents to reach an accord. The “pressure” tactic is also fairly common, but leads to deterioration of relations between the parties. In the modern world, on the stage of social and economic development, the business community places high hopes on communicative process that allows opening a dialogue and achieving mutual understanding between people separated by economic, political, ideological, and cultural boundaries. The results of this research can be beneficial in various fields that involve the negotiation process.

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