Power and Vulnerability: Managing Sensitive Language in Organisational Communication (Extended Abstract)

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Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Society for Text and Discourse, June .

Organisational responsibilities can bring power but also a degree of vulnerability and exposure. This leads to divergent predictions about the use of potentially sensitive language: power might license it, exposure might inhibit it. Data from a large corpus of organisational emails shows that people in positions of relative power tend to avoid potentially sensitive words suggesting that, in at least some circumstances, vulnerability is a more significant influence than power in organisational language use.

Download: healey2023power.pdf