The development, maintenance and sometimes termination of relationships between business people, businesses and their customers has been the subject of much research. For example, at the macro level, ‘relationship marketing’ explores how companies can maximize lifetime customer value and thus benefit financially from deepening and retaining relationships with customers (McKenna, 1993; Paulin et al., 1997, 2000). There has also been interest in the communication used in negotiations since the 1960s (see Bülow, 2009). At a more textual level, research by Lampi (1986), Charles (1996), Charles and Charles (1999), Holmes (2000, 2006), Spencer-Oatey (2000), Poncini (2002, 2004), Holmes and Stubbe (2003), Koester (2004, 2006, 2010), McCarthy and Handford (2004) and Handford and Koester (2010), amongst others, has analysed how relationships are reflected in and affected by the specific linguistic patterns found in spoken business discourse within particular unfolding encounters, within organizations and across business-to-business communication. Time and again, research indicates how attention paid to business relationships through effective interpersonal communication can enhance the success of the overall enterprise, or the individual within it.
This book has thus far explored how language constitutes meetings from a genre perspective and has examined quantitative results from the CANBEC corpus. While the study is concerned with exploring interpersonal language and practices and how they constrain and enable the discourse, there is a consistent danger of oversimplifying the relationship between them.