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Prof Asha Kaul Wing 11, Indian Institute of Management, Vastrapur, Ahmedabad, India Email: Vaibhavi Kulkarni Rutgers University, 4 Huntington Street, New Brunswick, NJ Email:

We would like to acknowledge the support of Research and Publications Division, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, in writing this paper. We would also like to extend our thanks to Rasika Gaikwad, Academic Associate, Gender Resource Centre, for meticulous analysis of data.


This study extended recent attempts at analyzing and comprehending gender differences in emails with respect to cooperation and politeness in Indian business scenario. Four hundred and ninety four emails were studied, out of which two hundred and fifty emails were written by men and two hundred and forty four by women. Collated emails related to directives soliciting accomplishment of tasks through adherence/violation to principles of politeness. Results revealed that specific forms of politeness will result in cooperation among team members/coworkers in email communication; adherence to politeness maxims is higher in women than in men; specific examples of violations of politeness maxims are higher in men than in women; adherence to politeness maxims in clusters is not gender specific but is contingent on the needs of the situation or the organization; and finally, in directives the variations in use of politeness maxims across genders is the highest.

During the last two decades computer mediated communication (CMC) which refers to person-to-person communication . . . over computer networks (Pickering & King, 1995, p. 479) has gained considerable momentum. Electronic mail, computer conferencing and related media all form part of CMC. Studies have revealed significant differences between the nature of communication through CMC and face to face interaction. (Kiesler, Siegel, & McGuire, 1984; Siegel, Dubrovsky, Kiesler, & McGuire, 1986; Sproull & Kiesler, 1986). Sproull and Kiesler (1986) argued that the unlike face to face interaction, CMC messages are not guided by social context cues, thus leading to differences in the way messages are structured. This cues filtered out perspective initially led towards the belief that CMC was less personal and social than face to face interaction. However, as the number of studies in this area increased, several scholars argued against this perspective. Walther (1996) used the concept of self presentation, as developed by Goffman (1959), to argue that CMC was hyperpersonal in nature. According to Goffman (1959), we present our selves in a particular manner in order to create certain kind of impression. CMC makes it easier for individuals to manage their self presentation and indulge in selective self presentation, which Walther (1986) termed as hyperpersonal communication. According to hyperpersonal theory of communication, two features of CMC reduced cues and asynchronous communication

- enable the users to control their verbal and linguistic cues and give them time to consciously construct their communicative messages, thus helping them manage their self presentation. The difference between CMC and face to face communication is amply evidenced in electronic mails (Emails), the most commonly used form of CMC. Significant growth in the use of emails has considerably changed the views held by researchers about the nature of messages used. In the last few years, researchers (Baym, Zhang, & Lin, 2004) have posited that emails are used for fructification of social goals. They have become a convenient measure to construct a new type of social interaction beyond space barriers in which cooperation is desired. Cooperation between the sender and receiver is a mandate for successful or effective communication/conversation (Grice, 1975). Extending the notion of cooperation and successful communication in task oriented emails, we find that the purpose is to solicit cooperation though use of language/words or non-use of specific language patterns/words. Often, politeness and its maxims are used to secure cooperation. Previous studies (Brown & Levinson, 1978; Leech, 1983) have uncovered the relationship between politeness and cooperation in face to face communication. Though impact of politeness on cooperation and vice versa has been studied extensively (Dubrovsky et al., 1991; Goffman, 1955; Brown & Levinson, 1978; Leech, 1983), scant attention has been paid to violations of politeness principles and variations in choice of principles and clusters in emails across genders. Extrapolating the research findings in face to face communication, can we state that the link/interplay between cooperation and politeness is equally relevant in emails? Is there a difference in the structuring of emails across genders? There are almost no validation studies on emails in the Indian context that provide an insight in the above raised questions. Our goal, in the chapter, is to provide a conceptual understanding that would help us assess how men and women appraise different situations, initiate dialogue and respond via emails. The study offers challenging scope for analysis of the level/extent of politeness or type of principles used/abused to solicit cooperation in emails by males and females. Emails can be used for both formal and informal transmission of messages. This chapter focuses on the study of formal, organizational and task related emails written by men and women in which social interaction is studied through adherence or violation of politeness maxims. It applies Principles of Politeness and maxims developed by Leech (1983) to study the use of politeness in emails across genders. The objectives of the chapter are as follows: To understand the influence of gender and politeness on writing style in work related emails, in the Indian context. To identify gender based similarities/differences in formal style of email writing. To examine the relationship between cooperation and politeness in emails across genders To evaluate instances of adherence and violation of politeness maxims in emails

BACKGROUND The Indian context During the last two decades, the number of women at workplace has increased significantly. As this is a comparatively new phenomenon in India, the communication patterns - face to face and emails - have undergone a radical change. The emphasis has shifted from cooperation in same sex groups to understanding of cooperation and politeness strategies used by men and women in the organizational context (Kaul and Patnaik, 2006). Unlike the scenario in several Western countries, India is still faced with issues of the shrinking pipeline as women traverse up the ladder of success. Hence the need to analyse the communication patters oral and written- across genders. Research indicates that the face to face communication patterns of men and women are widely divergent (ONeill, 2004; Wilkins & Andersen, 1991). The phenomenon becomes more pronounced among Indian managers (men and women), many of whom are not well equipped or trained to work in diverse teams which operates in a unisex work environment and culture. Such uniqueness when translated to email communication makes India an ideal site for studying cooperation and politeness which would have implications for managerial competence. Review of research Politeness:
Theory of linguistic politeness and face gained ground with the seminal work of Goffman (1955). The formal theoretical construct was provided by Brown and Levinson (1978:87). Brown and Levinson (1987) argued that politeness is governed by a need to be approved (positive face) and the need for independence (negative face). For an individual to maintain face, it is important that the face needs of the other individual too be respected. Holtgraves (2002) stated that the theory of politeness and face saving is extremely important in providing an answer to the different constructs. Politeness theory has primarily been applied in face to face communication, barring a few exceptions (Morand & Ocker, 2003; Sussman & Sproull, 1999). Politeness has been studied as a principle with a set of maxims, essential for smooth flow of communication between sender and receiver. Geoffrey Leech (1983) in an elaboration on Politeness Principle (PP) identified six Maxims: Tact Maxim (minimize cost to the other and maximize benefit to the other), Generosity Maxim (minimize benefit to self and maximize cost to self), Approbation Maxim (minimize dispraise of the other and maximize praise of the other ), Modesty Maxim (minimize praise of self, maximize dispraise of self), Agreement Maxim (minimize disagreement between self and the other and maximize agreement between self and other) and Sympathy Maxim (minimize antipathy between self and the other and maximize sympathy between self and other).

Gender and Language:

Research on language and gender primarily focuses on spoken language which is deduced from direct observation, interviews, or transcriptions appearing in large-scale corpora (Baron, 2003, p. 9). Language of women is attributed to be less assertive, thus facilitating social networking, whereas the language used by men is more information oriented (Holmes, 1995; Cameron, 1998). There are multiple studies focusing on the area of gender variations in written language. Baron (2003) posits that some of the data analyzed are historical in nature (relying heavily upon personal letters), while other data derive from large scale written corpora or experimental essay composition tasks (p. 11). Graddy (2004) reported multiple differences in the male and female conversational styles as men tend to be more adversarial, self-promoting, contentious, and assertive. Attributes associated with men included threats to individual expressions, concern with rules, posting of long messages, etc. On the contrary female language was found to be more qualifying, apologetic, supportive, and polite (p. 3). According to Lakoff (1990), females tend to use more expressive forms than males: adjectives not nouns or verbs and, in that category, those expressing emotional rather than the intellectual (p. 204). Herring (2000) stated that gender socialization in face to face interaction is essentially reflected in synchronous and asynchronous mediums of interaction. There are evidences that there are variations in the written communication styles of men and women. Mulac and Lundell (1994) in their analysis of impromptu essays of college students coded the data and suggested male and female language variables. The differences in writing styles of men and women have also been accounted by for linguists and social scientists. Additionally, socio economic factors influence the writing styles of men and women, more so in the case of emails which are task oriented in nature.

THEORETICAL CONSTRUCTS Issues, Controversies, Problems Politeness:

Danet (2001) observed that "the relative status of addressor and addressee [influences] linguistic choice: messages addressed upward tend to be more formal, more polite, and more conforming with conventional norms" (p. 65). Arguably, emails form an interesting point of departure from the accepted and set pattern of analysis. They create an asymmetrical imbalance in the sender-receiver relationship. The sender can transmit information and get cooperation under way, but has no guarantee that the recipient has received the message (Riva & Galimberti, 1998) and will respond in a positive manner. Additionally, politeness rules differ depending on the situation in which or for which the message has been drafted (Argyle, 1992). Differences arise because the communicators

have a sense of anonymity which could encourage them, for example, to be impolite and express their hostility or resentment explicitly (Reid, 1995). Several researchers (Chen, 2006; Danet, 2001; Herring, 2002) have discussed stylistic differences in email communication with different audiences. In other words, presence of social context cues stemming from hierarchy increase the level of formality and politeness (Spears & Lea, 1992) and "more socially desirable levels of interaction and the creation of polite speech" (Duthler, 2006, p.18); while absence may cause email writers to be negligent of social protocol and formalities (Sproull & Kiessler, 1986). Additionally, absence of social context cues gives rise to impoliteness or violations of politeness which gets reflected in the form of flagrancy, hostility and inhibitions (Kiesler, Siegel, & McGuire, 1984; Siegel, Dubrovsky, Kiesler, & McGuire, 1986; Sproull & Kiesler, 1986). In this context, two questions come to the fore: in situations where cooperation is uncertain, do the recipients respond with the same degree of politeness as initiated by the sender? Does the level/extent/degree of politeness affect the level of cooperation? Bunz & Campbell (2003) argued that messages with verbal and structural politeness indicators elicited the most polite responses. They observed that email recipients detect politeness indicators, and accommodate this politeness by including similar politeness indicators in their email responses. In other words, cooperation in emails can be achieved by politeness markers and indicators. Holtgraves and Yang (1992) defined politeness as phrasing ones remarks so as to minimize face threat (p. 246). Extrapolating the definition to an understanding of the politeness phenomenon in written communication, we can postulate that the sender, by exercising care and being selective can minimize face threat and construct carefully worded messages which adhere to principles of politeness. Emails which are an extension of the form of written communication similarly follow a planned process in which the sender gets ample time and opportunity to compose, review, and edit. One can state that securing of cooperation through emails depends on the communicators ability and desire to construct polite emails. Words like please, kindly, sorry, relax , also referred to as politeness indicators and markers (Trip, 1971), have positive, polite connotations and their choice heralds a message which solicits and gains cooperation. At the same time, researchers have also stated that email style is reflective of the organizational culture and cultural differences. This argument found support in the study by Gains (cited in Murray, 2000) who examined 116 work related emails. In his study, differing styles of writing emails supported the view that the process of writing emails was dependent on multiple factors.

Gender, Politeness and Emails:

Politeness as a tool adds an important dimension to the study of gender and language in emails. The term gender, as any other terminological choice, is laden with assumptions built on cultural roles and stereotypes developed over centuries and generations

Politeness in email exchange across genders has been extensively studied by researchers. According to a study by Holmes (1995) on speech patterns of men and women and their relationship to status and power, there are differences in politeness patterns between men and women. The study noted that high amount of politeness in womens speech is often associated with submissive social roles. In an experiment by Fishman (1980) one-third of the questions that women asked were tag questions. Other questions were requests for information or clarification. The study also revealed that women said ''you know'' five times more often than men. Impolite messages, it was found, were usually authored by males, while females were the perceived authors of the polite messages (Jessmer and Anderson, 2001). Smith et al, 1997, (cited in Herring, 2000), have found that women are more likely to thank, appreciate and apologize, and to be upset by violations of politeness: they are also more likely to challenge offenders who violate online rules of conduct. In continuation with online rules of conduct, Herring (2000) noted that conventional styles of gender create a climate on the Internet which is more amenable to men than women. Her research reveals how men in online groups make strong assertions, disagree vehemently and quite frequently use profanity, sarcasm and insults. In contrast women use controlled assertions, polite expressions, offers and suggestions. Gender differences in emails can be explained by the research findings that men and women tend to use and understand language in different ways (Gefen and Straub, 1997). Womens discourse also tends to be more tentative and socially oriented in contrast to men, who tend to be more categorical (Preisler, 1986). Witmer and Katzman (1997) found that women tend to use graphical accents more than men, which suggested an emotional tone in their messages. Furthermore, women show a proclivity to highlight cooperation in their discourse while men tend to be competitive (Coates, 1996). Literature (Trip, 1971) on politeness studies these words in the context of negative or positive politeness. According to Vine (2001) using directives in the context of workplace is neither straightforward nor simplistic. Vine (2001) states that people use different strategies for directives, depending on the context. Trip (1971) categorized directives into five components imperatives, embedded imperatives, statements of need, questions directives and hints. He claimed that in directives, the communication involves some sort of an action on the part of the recipient, which may involve varying levels of effort. Based on the issues presented above we have raised the following propositions: Proposition 1: Specific forms of politeness (e.g.: tactful requests, agreements) will result in cooperation among team members/coworkers in email communication. Proposition 2: Individuals writing emails are aware of gender centric organizational acceptance and the composition of the emails is a reflection of the same. Proposition 2a: Specific examples of adherence to politeness maxims are higher in women than in men.

Proposition 2b: Specific examples of violations of politeness maxims are higher in men than in women. Proposition 3: The choice of politeness maxims reflected in language use in emails is gender and task specific. Proposition 4: In directives, typically identified as task oriented, variations in use of polite expressions across genders occurs: this choice provides important cues regarding the use of language by males and females in emails. These propositions were tested in the Indian context by analyzing task oriented emails sent out at workplace.

We sent emails to various organizations in India soliciting samples of work related emails. Additionally, students and colleagues were requested to share task oriented emails. 494 emails were received out of which 250 were written by men and 244 by women. All names were deleted from the emails. The gender, male or female, of the sender was written on top of the mails to facilitate coding on the basis of gender. We manually segregated the emails on the basis of gender. Subsequently, emails were cut and pasted on a word document file and a number assigned to them for ease of identification. This was followed by the coding process. An independent coder, who had earlier experience of coding transcripts on gender and upward influence for the authors, completed the task of coding all the 494 emails. All these emails were divided into two categories: directives and non-directives. The purpose of dividing the emails into these two categories was simple. The linguistic connotations of the word directives have a commanding/ordering note which is not bound by politeness but is intrinsically status or hierarchy specific. Thus under the category of directives we clubbed emails in which the sender assigns a task to the recipient. Emails that contained messages which were of the nature of seeking information or seeking tasks to be accomplished were assigned to the non-directives category. The measurement process was conducted in two stages. In the first stage the mails written by men and women were divided into directives and non-directives. Under these two categories the text was further coded by identifying words or clauses that were mutually agreed by the researchers as measures for politeness. The criterion for categorization of emails into different categories was based on adherence to different maxims of politeness. The mails were coded on the basis of the politeness maxims as tact, approbation, generosity, agreement, sympathy and modesty. The mails that did not fall in any of these categories were labeled as others which were then analyzed by the researchers and different labels assigned.

We checked the initial coding of 58 random mails for authenticity. When 100% agreement on the coding process was arrived at, the remaining emails were given to the coder who completed the task. Once all emails were categorized, we again carried out a random check to ensure that the coding was done as per the requirements. It was found that in four cases, there was an error in identification of the gender of the sender. A re-run of the emails with the gender of the sender was conducted to ensure that the separation of the emails in the male and female category was accurate. To make the study robust we followed a two pronged approach. In the first stage we manually counted the politeness markers. To validate our findings, in the second stage, we conducted chi square tests for assessment of frequencies of politeness use in language by men and women in email exchange


As the data involved frequencies of emails across groups, chi square tests were carried out to test if men and women differed significantly in the way they used language in emails. As the N for both men and women is comparable, analysis was done by considering equal expected frequencies across categories. The hypotheses pegged the expected frequencies at equal numbers in categories tested. There were significantly more non-directive responses than directive ones in the male as well as the female category. For males the directive/non-directive analysis yielded a chisquare value of 193.6 (df=1) with a significance of 0.000, and for females the chi-square value was 163.93 (df=1), again significant at the 0.000 level. Gender, however, did not seem to play a significant role in the distribution of responses across the directive and non-directive categories between sexes. Females were observed to use significantly more tact than males. Chi-square value of 4.263 (df=1), was significant at 0.03 level. However, ones gender did not affect the nature of responses pertaining to a-tactfulness, information seeking or task seeking. Gender also did not seem to matter when it came to use of maxims or use of clusters. Maxims of politeness have been used in varying degrees across genders. For men, the chi-square value of 132.63 (df=5), was significant at 0.000 level. For women too, the chisquare value of 121.55(df=5), yielded similar significance. What is interesting to note through this analysis is that the breakup in terms of use of maxims is similar across genders. While analysing the use of individual maxims, the maxim of approbation yielded a significant gender difference. The chi-square value of 4.24 (df=1) was significant at the 0.03 level, with men making greater use of the maxim than women.

Table : Chi Square values for Directives and Non Directives ChiSquare df Sig. Directive vs. Non-Directive Males 193.60 1 0.000 Directive vs. Non-Directive Females 163.93 1 0.000 Tact 4.26 1 0.039 Approbation 4.24 1 0.390 Maxims-Males 132.63 5 0.000 Maxims- Females 121.55 5 0.000 Contrary to the results reported by Holmes (1995), paper, this study failed to confirm the link between politeness and submissive role of women in society. Instead, the Indian data when extracted out of a large data pool supported the presence of politeness in all emails, though there was a perceived difference in terms of degree and form.

Cooperation and Politeness

Emails in our corpus were all task oriented. The task compliance focused on a request (pertaining to work) to be made, job/task to be assigned, or information to be solicited. While all emails were task oriented, they varied in politeness indicators and markers. Some adhered to explicit expressions of politeness in the interest of securing cooperation, some indicated presence of more than one maxim of politeness, and some made use of politeness indicators as Please, Thank you, while others directly violated the politeness maxims. Emails written by both males and females sought cooperation by using politeness maxims in accordance with the first proposition Specific forms of politeness (e.g.: tactful requests, agreements) will result in cooperation among team members/coworkers in email communication. The finding is in tune with the research conducted by Blum-Kulka (1987) who posit that if the requester seeks compliance, a certain degree of politeness is required. There are no gender differences in politeness, hedges, pre- and post-request face work. In the organizational context, the nature of the task, that is, request precedes gender variables related to language. This code switch is evident in the writing styles of well educated female professionals who use the male interactive styles to sound indistinguishable from their male counterparts (Lakoff, 1990, p. 202).

Gender and Politeness:

Out of the 250 written by men, 121 used different maxims for the purpose of seeking tasks to be accomplished by members in the organization. Tact and approbation were two principles that were followed extensively by men, followed by agreement. Ninety three mails by women made use of maxims in which tact was adhered to maximum amount of time. Approbation and agreement were other maxims which were extensively observed.

Fig. 1 Use of Maxims - Males

Fig. 2 Use of Maxims - Females

While the frequency of count among the three maxims is almost the same in men and women, there is a significant difference in the use of approbation between men and women.

Adherence to Maxims:
It was interesting to note that there was a difference in adherence to politeness maxims by both men and women. The analysis of emails led to the following observations:

Approbation and Tact were two positive politeness maxims used frequently in emails by both men and women. However, it was found that there was high persistence of Approbation maxim among males. Fig. 3 Use of Approbation in Males and Females

Men used flattery more than women in their emails. The emails communicated praise and approval of the recipients actions. However, this finding contradicts the existing literature which points towards the fact that as compared to men, women tend to praise and appreciate the recipient more (Herring, 1994). This again could be attributed to the cultural backdrop in which the emails were written where men take on the patronizing role and compliment frequently to motivate the team players/members. Differences in use of approbation can be a result of the individual and cultural psyche of the writers, where praise and dispraise is essential for securing cooperation and promoting motivation in the Indian context. Triandis & Singelis had noted in 1998 (cited in Guodong and Jing, 2005) that in East Asian countries there is a greater eagerness to sustain harmonious relationships which is in sharp contrast to individualists in USA who focus primarily on sounding opinions. The reason thus for adopting specific forms of politeness for securing cooperation can also be conceived as a feature typical of the workings of employees in the Indian sub-continent. Emails written by women showed a higher degree of adherence to some maxims of politeness than those written by men. Fig. 4 Use of Tact in Males and Females

26% 74%

Males Females

The emails written by women showed hesitancy to openly contradict or disagree. The mails were more appeasing and tentative rather than firm and clear. The finding coincides with the existing literature that women tend to justify their assertions, apologize, express support of others, and in general, manifest an aligned orientation towards their interlocutors. (Herring 1993:1996b; Savicki et al. 1996) The findings thus validate proposition 2a, namely, specific examples of adherence to politeness maxims are higher in women than in men.

Violations of Maxims:
An interesting finding from the analysis of the emails was the tendency or desire to bond with the recipient through written communication. A variation in this bonding technique was found in the mails written by men and women. It was found that Men attempted bonding through the use of Approbation Women attempted bonding by making Inane talk.

Men in the Indian culture play the role of the head in a patriarchic society, praising and motivating, and women indulge in relationship building. This cultural variant is clearly evident in the writing style of men and women in our corpus. Adoption of this tactic is in line with the nurturing role assigned to women by researchers (Tannen, 1990). I hope this finds you well. Haven't heard from you for some time now. Was wondering what is happening on the book front. In your last mail we had agreed on a February deadline. While the email has clearly been written to inquire about the adherence to a deadline, the author makes a point to inquire about the well being, instead of coming straight to the point. Such kind of inane talk was used more frequently by women in our study. In the emails sent by men, while there was adherence to the politeness principle, violations of maxims were also witnessed. Instances of violations were in the nature of sarcastic politeness or camouflaged politeness. In such emails, there was a dichotomy between the words used and the intent of the message. While the words indicated adherence to politeness maxims, the tone and the intent proved contradictory. For instance,

I can't make a scrapbook as I am not comfortable with the idea. I have not done anything in this regard so far and I would be grateful if you could ask the professor to excuse me from this. In this example, while the words I would be grateful if you could suggest politeness and tact, there is a clear violation of the agreement maxim. The author is not willing to agree to the concept of writing/preparing a scrapbook. Clearly, the word grateful, in this context, is not being used in the literal sense. The author has expressed dissent and disagreement, albeit in a positive manner, by superficially or textually adhering to the tact principle. We found that such violations, though rare, were present primarily in emails written by men. This validated proposition 2b, namely, Specific examples of violations of politeness maxims are higher in men than in women. This is typical of the findings by researchers (Herring, 1994) that aggression is characteristic of the communicating pattern and style of men.

Many emails revealed use of more than one maxim. In emails where the size of written communication or the number of words used to communicate a message is much less, we found more than one politeness maxim operational. In our study we refer to them as clusters. Interestingly all groupings of politeness maxims had tact as a necessary second part to the cluster. Both men and women used tact in combination with approbation + agreement. This finding validates the third proposition that clusters are not gender specific, but are contingent on the needs of the situation or the organization.

Explicit Expression of Politeness through Words (EEPW):

In the analysis of our corpus we found that Politeness Principles and maxims could well be expressed through EEPWs which by their presence in a directive utterance change the impact of the message and make it more polite. Men and women use EEPWs differently while writing directives in emails for securing cooperation. While women made more use of EEPWs with reiterations of please and kindly, men communicated the task more directly with phrases rather than EEPWs like: as mentioned, we are running late I hope you check this mail ASAP and get things done etc. While men did use EEPW like hope, the message conveyed more a sense of urgency rather than explicit politeness. In request research, direct strategies, presence of intensifiers and aggressive moves specifying urgency have been projected as lack of politeness (Blum-Kulka, 1987). The use of intensifiers (right now, asap, terribly) is typically a male writing style and has been found in our corpus as well.

Interestingly we found that EEPWs were also used together with clusters, thus validating the fourth proposition. This finding validates the function of task assignment emails. To secure cooperation from members in the team or the organization for accomplishing a certain task involves adherence to politeness principle, maxims and EEPWs. Use of EEPWs ensures that the request is loaded with politeness and chances of refusal are minimal.

Use of Directives
Directives were in the nature of assigning tasks. The data revealed some interesting conclusions. While assigning tasks, men and women were both tactful and atactful or untactful. Women however, were more tactful while assigning tasks and men more atactful. Fig. 5 Directive vs. Non-Directive - Males

6% 94
Fig. 6 Directive vs. Non-Directive Females

Directive Non Directive

8% 92%

Directive Non Directive

Both men and women made use of EEPWs, like requested, kindly, sincerely, please, can we, may we, suggested, grateful, etc. at the time of assigning tasks in their tactful mails, but as most of the emails written by women were tactful in nature, obviously the use of EEPWs by women was significant and greater. Men did not focus

on being polite through EEPWs (they used EEPW only in five instances) but were more oriented towards the task at hand in their atactful mails. Thus, the fourth proposition, variations in use of politeness maxims across genders are highest in directives, was also validated. This finding however, contradicts the validation of the third proposition in which men were extremely polite while seeking tasks. Not only were clusters used but together with clusters EEPWs were also used. The difference is a result of the nature of cooperation that is attempted. In the case of clusters, the nature of the interaction was task seeking, but in the case of directives, it was a case of assigning tasks. The analysis revealed that politeness and cooperation are essential for communication, more specifically, computer mediated communication in which the physical absence of the sender and receiver begins a process rich in assumptions and perceptions. The accuracy of the assumptions and perceptions is translated into cooperation between the interactants. Use of politeness markers and indicators enhances the quality of communication making it easy to secure cooperation.

Researchers (Abdullah, 2003; Markus, 1994; Waldvogel, 2007; Zmud & Carlson, 1999) are unanimous in their discussion of the use of emails as a medium of conveying rich information. However the quantum of information which is shared among the participants who deploy the electronic resources is dependent on the relationship between the participants, the manner of communication and the organization to which they belong. Abdullah (2003) in her research demonstrates that workplace emails are capable of addressing affective as well as transactional work. According to her research, emails provide writers leeway to personalize their messages. In a study on corporate exchange via email, it is difficult to assess the feasibility of adoption of personal styles to writing. In this chapter we have made broad categorizations and presented the divergent communication content presented in emails across genders, with the use of politeness maxims and markers. Differences across gender style of writing emails highlight the necessity to conduct indepth research on the workplace culture and its impact on the employees. Research supports the notion that workplaces tend to develop their own unique email style, reflecting organizational cultural differences. Fraser and Nolen (1981) argued over two decades ago that "no sentence is inherently polite or impolite It is not the expressions themselves but the conditions under which they are used that determines the judgment of politeness" (p. 96). Hence it is important for organizations to introduce a culture in which politeness is grafted in the medium through which messages are transmitted. Lakoff (1990) reported women to be more expressive than men and men to use more intensifiers than women. In her study, in which instructions had been given by the instructor she found men used fewer intensifiers and occurrences of expressive and emotional language by women was lower. One of the reasons attributed by Lakoff (1990) to this finding is that when there is a code switch in highly educated professional women, they adopt a language pattern which is symptomatic of the masculine culture.

With the higher growth rate of women within organizations and a change in the men and women ratio in organizations, it is important to study the language used by men and women, language used by men and women in emails and politeness constructs which are favourable across genders. Creation of a language culture which is more neutral and unisex is the most desirable strategy. Perhaps the best approach organizations can take is to create email training programs for management and staff to establish rules of "netiquette." (Turnage, 2008). Create an awareness on the significance of email contact, conduct studies on what can and cannot be achieved through politeness in emails. Finally companies can advocate that if nothing else works, employees should be advised that they spare some time prior to hitting the reply button as it ensures that content is not written and sent in the heat of the moment which they may live to regret (Cleary & Freeman, 2005).

As the data comprised emails collected from Indian employees working in an Indian environment, claims made and findings posited are reflective of a select audience. The research thus provides a fresh perspective on the understanding of politeness used in emails across genders through application of principles and maxims, specifically cooperative and politeness principles in India. In future it may be possible to annotate a set of principles typical of an organization (multi national) for securing cooperation which are not bound by gender or culture but are symptomatic of the needs of the organization. Study of emails in the context of gender and politeness is still a fertile ground for future researchers. Considering the comparative novelty of the medium, the options and the possibilities of research and analysis are multiple. Future researchers can concentrate on these similarities and dissimilarities. One virgin area for research in oral communication is the disparity between the intent of the sender and the message transmitted. The same can be studied with respect to emails where the internal meaning of the message or between the lines message can be compared with the explicit rendering of the intent. How frequently is this means adopted? What is the impact of this dichotomy on the receiver? In the absence of the nonverbal clues is the receiver able to comprehend the magnitude of the disparity? Is the message suitably comprehended? Does the reader go by the written or the unwritten message? The study can be well related to Grices theory of conversational implicature and the violations of maxims. Another area of interest can be a study of sarcastic politeness or camouflaged politeness where the writer does not explicitly violate politeness principles. Through sarcasm or cryptic remarks which are politeness indicators accomplishes the purpose of communicating an unpleasant or unacceptable message. There is further scope of analyzing the clustered approach for future study of politeness in emails. More work needs to be done to ascertain if specific patterns in clusters can be found in email authors across the globe or if these patterns are restricted to a specific area or demographics.

Researchers interested in studying gender variations in emails can extensively study the role and impact of inane talk which can, with substantial data be an extension on the maxims of politeness. Securing a certain level of cooperation through inane talk can well be niche area for study in the language used by women in emails. The chapter relates to researchers and scholars as it provides considerable room for further research. Professionals too interested in comprehending the differing patterns of language in email exchange, reflected through violations or adherences to politeness across genders will benefit from a reading of the text. Additionally, researchers will also be able to use the literature review for a comprehensive understanding of the different variables used for analysis.

Differences in communication patterns between men and women are a known fact. The extent to which the variations translate in written organizational communication, more specifically emails, and impact productivity, is a crucial issue and needs considerable thought. Essentially emails which can also be referred to as intellectual shorthand are a compressed form of what may be termed as directives and non-directives. In the fist category we have emails which issue orders or request for an order to be complied with. In the second category, we have emails which are more transactional in nature and do not seek compliance by ordering. The thrust of the chapter is on the process by which directives and non directives are translated in emails and across genders for seeking cooperation. Cooperation per se necessitates interaction at the level of a minimum of two interactants who move towards a common goal. In the linear progression of communication through which cooperation is sought, politeness forms an integral part of the process. Cooperation without politeness or vice versa is difficult to achieve in formal interactions. Emails are an interesting point of departure from face to face communication. While the goal in both forms is/can be the same, the difference in medium intensifies the application of principles, be it cooperative or politeness. The observation gains further momentum when we weave in the gender variable. Known differences in language styles across genders are reflected in written communication, be it in the form of simple written messages or emails. Our findings corroborate with the existing literature on higher politeness in communication patterns of women to seek cooperation and greater violations of politeness by men even in instances of seeking cooperation from peers. Instances in which there are variations in the choice of politeness maxims for cooperation across genders are highest in directives. In the chapter while variations across gender choice have been evidenced, it is majorly the need of the situation which determines the choice of either a maxim or the clusters in which maxims occur. Finally, the chapter raises several issues related to emails, gender and its effect on use of Cooperative and Politeness Principle. 1. Extent to which emphasis should be laid on intent and explicit expression.

2. 3. 4. 5.

Significance of use of specific/certain words Universality of principles for writing emails Relation between gender patterns in written language and emails Role of politeness in defining the quantum of cooperation in emails.

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KEY TERMS Camouflaged Politeness: There is a discrepancy between message and intent of
message. When the spoken/ written words follow structural politeness, but the tone of the message implies sarcasm. Cooperation: Seeking compliance and reciprocating in an equal measure.

Directives: Issuing an order for completion of a task EEPW: Explicit Expression of Polite Words. Use of structural and linguistic markers to
connote politeness. Inane talk: Babbling; talk which is not designed for securing a result, outcome Politeness: Use of words, clauses and syntactical and semantic structures which address the positive face of the recipient. Sarcastic Politeness: There is a variation in the text and subtext of the message. While the text is structured using polite structural and syntactical markers, the subtext implies sarcasm.

APPENDIX I Breakup of Emails in Different Categories Categories for Women and Men

Task Oriented Emails (N 494)

Task Oriented Emails (N 494)

Women 244

Men 250

Directives Directives 15 22

Non Directives 222

Assigning Assigning Men 250 Tasks Tasks Women 244 Tactful Tactful 5 14 Information seeking 37 Task Seeking 185 Non Directives 235 Use of Maxims 108 Use Use of of Clusters Clusters + 77 EEPWs 69

a tactful 8


ASAP Please EEPWs 14 EEPWs 5 Kindly Kindly Hope Hopefully Tact 6159 Tact Approbation Approbation 3419
Agreement Agreement 10 12

Sympathy Sympathy 11 11 Modesty Generosity 4 4

Generosity Modesty 1 3

Information seeking 45

a tactful 10

Task Seeking 190

Some EEPWs

Use of Maxims 121

APPENDIX II Select Excerpts of Emails Table 1. Emails with directive force

Directives (assigning tasks) Tactful Males No. of instances 5 Example Please let me know who would like to participate. I will be happy to provide some pointers on preparing for the debate. No. of instances 10 Example Ask the student to send a passport size picture of him along with the answers either by email, or he could send it to our office. No. of instances 5 Example - However, since we have an early deadline today, I would really appreciate it if you could please get this done latest by 4.00 pm Females No. of instances 14 Example: Could you please discuss the texts again with your group members and let me know the preference and a list of group members. No. of instances 8 Example I would like to know why the Tue review meeting on 19th was not organized. No. of instances 14 Example Would appreciate it if you could please let me have your views so that I could forward the same to the PGP office.


Use of EEPW (in tactful directives)

Table 2. Emails with non directive force Non Directives Information Seeking Task Seeking Use of maxims Use of clusters Males 235 No. of instances 45 No. of instances 190 Females 244 No. of instances 185 No. of instances 37

Table 3. Information seeking emails

Information Seeking atactful (EEPW)_ Please/Kindly/Hopefully/Grate fully

Males No. of instances 45 Example Thank you for your reply. As requested, please find enclosed the following for your use.

Females No. of instances 185 Example Kindly do let me know if you would be interested to review any of these books.

Table 4. Task seeking emails with use of politeness maxims Task Seeking (Use of Maxims) Tact Males 121 No. of instances 61 Example Though the CP system does encourage people to talk in class, still it cannot supplement a full course and concentrated effort. No. of instances 34 Example The material reads well and is full of information that professionals and students would find very useful. No. of instances 10 Example Yes, the February limit seems fine No. of instances 11 Example Now that you mention it, I do remember your name (and IIM) from the program. Israel (not only Eilat but also Tel Aviv, where I spent a night after the conference) was fabuloustoo bad you missed it. No. of instances 4 Example In case there are some concerns pl feel free to share them with us so that we can improve on the quality of the program Females 108 No. of instances 59 Example I would simply need 15-20 minutes of your time in filling in this questionnaire.




No. of instances 19 Example You were easily the most impressive and most effective of the faculty who spent time with us during the program. No. of instances 12 Example Life has become, as you rightly said one big meeting deadlines issue. No. of instances 11 Example I am saddened by the devastation that your country and so many others have suffered.


No. of instances 3 Example Hence it [my writing] is not of best editorial quality


No. of instances 1 Example If you have any queries or need any additional information please feel free to contact me.

No. of instances 4 Example I m ready to help in any case

Table 4. Task seeking emails with use of clusters Male 69 Task Seeking Use of Clusters EEPW + Apology No. of instances 5 Example No. of instances 3 Example Firstly, I am sorry for the inconvenience caused. If it's okay with you we can meet at 8.30 today at CR-4.Just mail me and let me know if it's convenient for you. Thank you for considering my request. No. of instances 2 Example Please do let us know if there is anything that you would require in terms of multi media projector etc. No. of instances 10 Example I apologize for this inconvenience No. of instances 12 Example In the meantime we will be extremely grateful if you do not follow up with any further sales activities and approaches. No. of instances 4 Example Thank you for the update. I apologise for the delay in response. Female 77

EEPW + Generosity

No. of instances 0 Example

Apology + Tact EEPW + Tact

Apology + Approbation

No. of instances 16 Example Sorry to have read the message late No. of instances 10 Example It is hence suggested to the Community Members to kindly use the Residential Gate after 6 P.M. to avoid inconvenience. No. of instances 0 Example

Bonding + Inane Talk

No. of instances 15 Example Nice to see your mail. I was sure the programme would be good. No. of instances 0 Example No. of instances 5 Example Fine, I look forward to hearing from you about your availability No. of instances 1 Example No. of instances 3 Example Good to hear from you after a break. Happy to note that you are intensely pursuing your research work. Research work has its challenges in getting timely and relevant data . No. of instances 3 Example Ok. Keeping this point in view, please do the needful. No. of instances 1 Example BTW, when can I expect to receive the cover page designs & info on number of pages. No. of instances 1 Example Sorry but i do not understand what is this persuasion scrapbook. Can you define it because i do not even start to work on this ? Thanks you very much. No. of instances 0 Example

No. of instances 35 Example Do get in touch next time you are in Ahmedabad. No. of instances 8 Example You have been extremely kind and understanding No. of instances 0 Example No. of instances 1 Example No. of instances 0 Example

Approbation + EEPW Approbation + Agreement

EEPW + Agreement Inane Talk + Tact

Agreement + Tact

Altruistic Tact/ Humility

No. of instances 1 Example Thank you so much for your mail. We will wait for your response. Look forward to further interaction with you. No. of instances 0 Example

Sarcastic Politeness

No. of instances 0 Example

Bonding + Agreement

Agreement + Tact +

No. of instances 1

No. of instances 1 Example Yes, that will be fine. Oh, thanks for including me in all the mails. No. of instances 0

Sympathy + Apology

Approbation + Tact

Example I had submitted the hard copy in time and have also placed a soft copy on the submissions server. While I agree that this can not serve as an excuse for the error, I sincerely request you to consider my case. May I request you to grant me an appointment for discussing the same. Once again, I apologise for any inconvenience that I might have caused. No. of instances 8 Example Thanx radhika for such an informative mail.I will definitely try and contact Krishnendu, if he will be helpful then I will clear many of my doubts.


No. of instances 0 Example