Interpersonal Skills for the Workplace

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
CMNS 1216
Interpersonal Skills for the Workplace
Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
4 This course is not recommended for hybrid or online delivery.
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities

This highly interactive course emphasizes learning through doing. Working individually or in small groups, students are involved in focused analysis and interpretation of interpersonal communication. A discussion-based teaching model is used with the expectation that students actively prepare for, participate in, and extract meaning from case studies, simulations, and role plays. Role plays may be video taped for the purpose of informed self-evaluation. Students are likely to conduct research with human participants as part of course requirements and evaluation. Instructors are responsible for making sure that such research is conducted in a manner consistent with College research ethics policies and federal policies.

Course Description
This highly interactive course provides opportunities for students to develop teamwork, interpersonal, speaking and listening, problem solving, and leadership skills in a face-to-face setting. Core components include foundational interpersonal communications theory, verbal and non-verbal communications skills, basic conflict management, group dynamics, and ethical interpersonal behaviour. Course work may also include instruction in oral presentations, interviews and meetings.
Course Content
  1. What is Interpersonal Communication?
    • definitions of interpersonal communication
    • responsibilities of a communicator
    • confirming and disconfirming communication climates
    • managing interpersonal skills in a technological society
  2. What Theory and Background Information Prepare Us To Study Interpersonal Communication?
    • principles
    • models of communication
    • the self and communication
      • perception
      • values
    • communication style
    • anxiety and uncertainty management theory
    • attribution theory
    • cultural differences and interpersonal cummunication
    • interpersonal communication and ethical behaviour
  3. What Micro Skills Promote Effective Interpersonal Communication?
  • non-verbal communication
  • attending, observing, and listening skills
  • reflective responding
    • paraphrasing
    • clarifying
    • summarizing
  • responding empathically
  • the art of the question
  • giving and receiving feedback
    • intrapersonal communication in feedback situations
  • What are Some Foundations of Conflict Management?
    • the nature of conflict
    • elements of conflict
      • issues, positions, and interests
    • approaches to conflict
    • intrapersonal communication in conflict
    • systematic problem-solving skills
  • How Do We Communicate Effectively in Groups?
    • group development theory
    • role functions in groups
    • group effectiveness
    • sources of conflict in groups
    • strategies for managing conflict in groups
      • intrapersonal communication in groups
      • interpersonal skills in group settings
  • How Do We Communicate Effectively in Interviews?
    • kinds of interviews
    • preparing for the interview
    • conducting the interview
    • following up on the interview
  • What are the Interpersonal Dynamics of Oral Presentations?
    • managing speech anxiety
    • interacting with the audience
  • What are the Interpersonal Dynamics of Meetings?
    • formal and informal meetings
      • Robert’s Rules of Order
      • The Interaction Method
    • preparing an agenda
    • dealing with conflict in meetings
    • intrapersonal skills
    • interpersonal skills
    • meeting structures for managing conflict
  • How Do Effective Leaders Communicate?
    • definitions of leadership
    • approaches to leadership
    • leadership and communication climate.

    Learning Outcomes

    Overarching goal: 

    By the end of the course, successful students will demonstrate increased abilities to use appropriate and effective interpersonal communications skills in a variety of workplace contexts.

    Knowledge: By the end of the course, successful students will be able to:

    1. describe the influence of values, perception, and communication anxiety on interpersonal communication
    2. identify strengths and challenges in their own communication style and behaviour
    3. describe the nature and effects of a variety of verbal and non-verbal micro skills
    4. explain the nature, elements, and effects of conflict
    5. describe common roles and structures in groups
    6. identify characteristics of effective groups
    7. describe both formal and informal approaches to conducting a meeting
    8. explain the effects of leadership style on communication climate.

    Skills: By the end of the course, successful students will be able to:

    1. develop a personal strategy for managing communication anxiety in ambiguous situations
    2. demonstrate effective verbal and non-verbal communication skills in a variety of settings, including one-to-one interactions, large and small groups, telephone exchanges, oral presentations, feedback sessions, and interviews
    3. employ a constructive approach to preventing and managing conflict in a variety of settings
    4. work more effectively as a member of a team
    5. prepare for, conduct, and follow-up on an information or research interview
    6. plan and participate in an effective meeting.

    Attitudes: By the end of the course, successful students will gain appreciation for:

    1. the dynamic complexity of interpersonal communication
    2. their personal impact on interpersonal interactions
    3. the importance of communicating in an ethical and professional manner.
    Means of Assessment

    Given the differences in programs for which Communications 1216 may be adapted, evaluation components may vary significantly.

    The following is a current example of ways that components and marks have been designed for the course.

    Communications 1216 for General University Transfer:

    Analysis and discussion of current interpersonal functioning 10%
    Assessment and evaluation of improved interpersonal functioning 20%
    Interview skills demonstrations 25%
    Interpersonal skills demonstration project (videotaped demonstration and analysis of interpersonal, group, conflict management and oral presentation skills) 30%
    Attendance, participation, ethical communication, and professional conduct 15%
    TOTAL 100%
    Textbook Materials

    Sample of Textbooks and Materials Appropriate for Communications 1216 to be Purchased in Current Edition by Students

    Adler, R., Elmhorst, J., and Lucas, K. Communicating at Work: Principles and Practices for Business and the Professions. New York: McGraw-Hill College.

    Dubrin, A.J., and Geerinck, T. Human Relations: Interpersonal Job-oriented Skills. Toronto: Pearson Education Canada.

    Which Prerequisite

    Recommended but not required for CMNS 1104, 1217 and 1316.