In recent articles, we’ve talked about how to read RC passages and we’ve also discussed how to analyze an RC practice problem when we’re studying. (I recommend reading those articles before you read this, if you haven’t already.)
Today, we’re going to do another question from the Language Power passage (follow the link for the passage!), and we’re going to analyze that question using the how to analyze a problem process. If you haven’t already read this passage (or if it has been a while since you read it), go take a look at the Language Power article first. Give yourself roughly 3 minutes to read through the passage and take notes (not much time!), then read the rest of that article.
Okay, finally, you can get started on this article! Below is the full text of the passage followed by the question (© ManhattanPrep).
Sarah Meyers McGinty, in her new book Power Talk: Using Language to Build Authority and Influence, argues that while the simple lingual act of declaring power does not help a powerless person gain influence, well-considered linguistic techniques and maneuvers do. McGinty does not dispute the importance of factors such as expertise and ability in determining stature, but argues persuasively that these power determinants amount to little in a person unable to communicate effectively. Many surveys have shown that the ability to communicate effectively is the characteristic judged by managers to be most critical in determining promotability in the workplace or an academic environment.
McGinty divides speech into two categories: “language from the center” and “language from the edge”. In McGinty’s words, “Language from the center makes a speaker sound like a leader. McGinty suggests that language from the center is not only for those in high positions of power, but also for those of lower ranks who wish to gain more power and credibility. A speaker using language from the center exhibits the following characteristics: he directs rather than responds; he makes statements rather than asks questions; he contradicts, argues, and disagrees; he uses his experience persuasively; and he maintains an air of impersonality in the workplace. McGinty suggests that the use of language from the center can alter or create a new balance of power. These assertions are supported by studies that show that people accept leadership from those they perceive to be experts.
Language from the edge stands in stark contrast to language from the center. Language from the edge is careful, exploratory, and inquiring. It is inclusive, deferential, and collaborative. A speaker using language from the edge responds rather than directs; asks questions; strives to make others feel heard and protected; and avoids argument. The main purpose of language from the center is to claim authority for a speaker, while language from the edge strives to build consensus and trust. McGinty argues that true power comes from a deep understanding of when to use which style and the ability to use both as necessary.
What distinguishes McGinty’s discussion of effective communication is her focus on communication skills as a way of gaining power; this contrasts with most workplace communication theory, which focuses on communication skills as a way of preventing misunderstandings, avoiding conflict, and fostering interpersonal relationships. McGinty, however, holds that language not only helps maintain relationships but also lends authority. According to Power Talk, effective communication skill is an understanding of how situation shapes speech and how speech shapes situation and an understanding of how speech styles and the forces that affect those styles . . . can build your authority, and enhance your credibility and impact.
According to the passage, McGinty believes that ineffective communication can undermine which of the following power determinants?
(D) an air of impersonality
The first thing everybody does is check the answer “ but I’m not going to tell you what it is till later. : )
Now we’re going to analyze our work. I’ve reproduced the questions from the How To Analyze article below, but in a shorter form. I’ve followed the questions with italicized notes. These italics represent what I would think to myself when analyzing this problem.
Note: I’m going to pretend that I chose answer choice D (so I got it wrong!).
1. Did I know WHAT they were trying to test?
Questions: Was I able to categorize this question? Did I comprehend all the words, vocab, concepts, and answer choices? Do I know what I’m supposed to do for questions of this type?