Caution and consensus in American business meetings
This article contributes to studies of politeness and talk in the workplace. In particular, it focuses on the ways in which cautiousness is exercised to achieve consensus in American business meetings. This topic is elaborated against the real-world background of the surveillance culture of corporate America and a tradition of consensus-oriented decision-making, in the theoretical context of politeness theory (adding variables related to the ‘political economy’ of the investigated interactions), and with the methodological insights provided by conversation analysis. ‘Reversals’ are identified as specific turn patterns in face-saving strategies aimed at consensus. Two processes are highlighted: Attempts at protecting oneself through a reversal of opinion, and protecting others by helping them articulate a reversal.