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Spoken Communications

Course Code: CMNS 1124
Faculty: Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Department: Communications
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Seminar
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course examines the diversity of spoken communications in the workplace, focussing on routine formal and informal communication, communication etiquette and meetings of many kinds. Special attention will be paid to the influences of power, gender, language, technology and culture on spoken communication.

Course Content

  1. What are Some Functions of Spoken Communications in the Workplace Setting?
    1. setting and meeting goals
    2. disseminating information: giving instructions, giving and receiving feedback
    3. building relationships
    4. developing career paths
    5. managing conflict: encouraging, making decisions, problem-solving, making and refusing requests
  2. What Theory Helps us Understand Spoken Communications?
    1. selected communications theory:
      • Interactionist Theories
      • Social Exchange Theory
      • Standpoint Theory
      • Speech Community Theory
      • Systems Theory
    2. Transaction Model
    3. communications principles
    4. communications networks:           
      • formal networks
      • informal networks
  3. What are Some Dominant Perspectives on Spoken Communication?
    1. historical perspectives:
      • Classical Perspective
      • Human Relations Perspective
      • Contingency Perspective
      • Teamwork Perspective
      • Human Potential Perspective
    2.  contemporary considerations:
      • concept of excellence
      • cultural diversity
      • technology
  4. What are Some Basics of Communication Etiquette?
    1. greetings
    2. contexts, timing and privacy needs
    3. clarity: preparing for the exchange, being mindful of purpose, having appropriate information, and succinctly conveying ideas
    4. communication process: listening, taking turns, being alert to verbal and nonverbal cues, avoiding communication jammers
    5. responding promptly
    6. bringing closure
  5. How does Communication Climate Influence Workplace Interactions?
    1. definition of communication climate
    2. how communication climate develops
    3. nature and effects of confirming and disconfirming messages
    4. strategies for enhancing communication climates
  6.  How Does Language Influence Spoken Communication?
    1. language is symbolic
    2. language can be concrete or abstract
    3. language can be general or specific
    4. language can be inflammatory or respectful
    5. euphemisms alter meaning
    6. fact and opinion can be differentiated
    7. language can be used responsibly
  7. How Does Gender Influence Spoken Communication?
    1. definitions and terminology related to gender and sex roles
    2. development of gender-focused communication studies
    3. communication variance between and within gender groups
    4. content differences
    5. style differences
    6. differences in purpose
    7. addressing gender-related challenges:
      • using inclusive language
      • being aware of style differences
      • making efforts to shift from preferred style
      • making efforts to combine communication styles
  8. How Does Culture Influence Spoken Communications?
    1. definitions of culture and diversity
    2. Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
    3. broad paradigms for understanding culture
      • high and low contexts
      • formal and informal styles
      • individualistic and collectivistic groups
    4. communicating across diversity
      • being aware of differences
      • being aware of cultures and subcultures
      • being sensitive to nonverbal behaviour
      • interpreting behaviour from a broad perspective
      • adopting a mindful perspective
  9. How Does Power Influence Spoken Communications?
    1. definitions and terminology related to power
    2. categories of power
    3. language and power
    4. nonverbal behaviour and power
    5. power differential, power dynamics and respect
    6. power politics:
      • using power effectively
      • dealing with the inappropriate use of power
  10. What do We Need to Know to Conduct Effective Meetings?
    1. kinds and purposes of meetings: formal and informal
    2. when to hold a meeting
    3. meeting skills:
      • preparing an agenda
      • organizing a meeting
      • managing a meeting
      • following up
  11. How Does Technology Influence Spoken Communications?
    1. is technology-assisted communications interpersonal communications?
    2. possible communication channels
      • rich and lean channels
    3. advantages and disadvantages of using technologically-assisted communication
    4. selecting appropriate channels

Methods of Instruction

This highly interactive course provides students with opportunities to examine the nature and effects of gender, culture, power, and technology in spoken communications.  Much of class time will be spent in small group discussions.  Students will analyze and evaluate a variety of case studies, verbatim transcripts, and video and audio scenarios.  Active participation is expected.

Means of Assessment


Pre-assessment 10%
Analysis of communication: theory, etiquette & climate 20%
Critical incident analysis: gender, power, culture and language  
- critical incident analysis 20%
- group consultation 10%
Meeting skills quiz 10%
Post-assessment 30%

Learning Outcomes


Within the context of spoken communications, students will be able to:

  1. describe dominant perspectives of spoken communications
  2. discuss definitions, terminology and concepts related to gender, culture and power in spoken communications
  3. explain how gender-based, power-based, and culture-based differences affect spoken interactions
  4. describe the attributes of effective spoken interactions
  5. describe the elements of effective meetings both formal and informal
  6. discuss the role of the chairperson in meetings.


With the context of spoken communications, students will be able to:

  1. use theory to discuss spoken interactions
  2. demonstrate basic communication etiquette
  3. demonstrate strategies for enhancing communication climates
  4. use language responsibly and accurately to convey meaning
  5. use communication skills that show sensitivity to gender, power and cultural differences
  6. prepare agendas, articulate motions and compose minutes for different kinds of meetings.


Within the context of spoken communications, students will be able to:

  1. appreciate the diverse functions of and diversity of meanings in spoken communications
  2. appreciate the effects of confirming and disconfirming communication climates
  3. enhance their awareness of the impacts of language, gender, power, culture and technology on spoken interactions.

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.