Overcommunication Strategies of Violating Grice’s Cooperative Principle in Ground Service

  •  Liu Xiaoqin    


Based on four maxims of Grice’s cooperative principle framework, a small scale study is conducted to examine the communication strategies employed by experienced ground service staff. Data have been collected from questionnaires and in –depth interviews with Chinese domestic airlines’ ground staff. This study identifies that the communicative challenges usually happen in service failure and service recovery. And it finds out violation of four maxims of Grice’s cooperative principle is taken as sub-strategies of overinformativeness, telling a white lie, irrelevance, and ambiguity or prolixity. These strategies lead to overcommunication which could be routinely employed for the specific professional purposes of saving the passenger’s face, gaining the passenger’s understanding, reducing conflicts, avoiding complaints, or even establishing a harmonious relationship with passengers. This study moreover exploits that in the ground service communication context, two salient reasons stimulate the overcommunication strategies. Firstly it is to improve the service quality and secondly to enhance the passenger’s satisfaction which are the determining factors to the sustainable development of the airlines. This study is ambitious to seek a new means of understanding and investigating the ground service communication from the perspective of pragmatics. By integrating business communication in ESP context to the classical theory of pragmatics, this study attempts to offer practical suggestions to the frontline communicators.

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