Chapter 10: Interpersonal Workplace Communication

Jordan Smith

Chapter Learning Objectives

  1. Define professional behaviour according to employer, customer, coworker, and other stakeholder expectations.
  2. Explain the importance of ethics as part of the persuasion process.
  3. Define and provide examples of sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as strategies for how to eliminate it.
  4. Identify and provide examples of eight common fallacies in persuasive speaking.
  5. Plan and deliver short, organized spoken messages and oral reports tailored to specific audiences and purposes.
  6. Explain how to use your voice effectively in professional situations.
  7. Identify the five stages of a conversation and general strategies for improving conversation skills.
  8. Communicate effectively by telephone in a professional manner.
  9. Identify successful strategies for job interview preparation.
  10. Explain how best to answer standard and behavioural job interview questions.
  11. Define intercultural communication in the context of professional interactions.
  12. Explain the process by which we join and participate in a culture such as in the workplace.
  13. Identify dimensions of cultural difference from a sociological perspective.
  14. Explain strategies for how to establish and maintain friendly professional relations with people from different cultures.

We’ve been focusing so far almost entirely on writing in the workplace, but you can be a highly skilled writer and still not “make it” in your profession if you don’t have the oral communication skills to back you up. Despite all the sophistication of our skill with the written language and writing technologies, they are all extensions of a natural technology that we can’t do without. Just as a wheel improves upon what our feet do and a hammer upon our fists without replacing them, our writing technologies don’t replace our voice. Indeed, they make the uses to which we put our voices all the more important. When you look at the job application process, for instance, the written component (résumé and cover letter) will get you in the door, but it’s the in-person, face-to-face conversation you have for the oral component (the interview) that will ultimately get you the job.

In a world gone mad for technology, we still value the human element of our face-to-face interactions most. Though online shopping has stolen some of the retail market share from brick-and-mortar stores, the vast majority of business interactions require in-person contact—not just at the customer-to-business front end, but especially in the back end of internal office operations. The advantages of in-person workplace collaboration will protect those face-to-face interactions for a long time to come, as well as require that everyone in the workforce have high-level or communication skills. Divided into the following topics, this chapter focuses on the one-on-one aspect of those “soft” skills.


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