Motivating Language in Industry

Topic: Motivating Language

Author(s), Title and Publication

Sharbrough, W. (2006). Motivating Language in Industry. Journal of Business Communication, 43(4), 322-343.


This study examined leaders’ use of motivating language (ML) and several key employee outcomes at the southeast regional division of a Fortune 500 company. Motivating language theory (MLT) predicts that leaders can improve subordinates’ performance and job satisfaction through strategic use of meaning-making language, direction-giving or uncertainty-reducing language, and empathetic language.

In the online survey, 134 employees rated their supervisors’ use of ML and their own communication satisfaction, job satisfaction, perceived leaders’ communication competence, and perceived supervisory effectiveness (the extent to which leaders achieve their goals, company goals, and the goals of their subordinates).

Results indicated that when leaders used ML strategically, employees were more satisfied with their job and communication with supervisors, and were more likely to perceive their supervisors were effective in management, and competent in communication.

Implications for Practice

Organizations could use the scale items tested in the survey to collect employees’ feedback on communication with supervisors, and then target leaders’ communication deficiencies. The feedback can help design targeted supervisory training programs to help leaders better use ML within their work units to improve employee attitudes, performance, and job satisfaction. .

Location of Article

The article is available online at: (abstract free, purchase full article)


Posted in [Research Library], Employee / Organizational Communication, Supervisory Communications and tagged , , , , , .

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