This module on interpersonal communication contains a significant focus on some of the challenges and opportunities that happen when we communicate with people who may have different worldviews, understandings, and approaches.
We began with discussion about diversity in Canada and how demographic, business, and social evidence indicate great value in inclusive workplace practices. You further learned about several manifestations of diversity Canadian society, such as religion, generation, and ability. Learning the terms and concepts related with diversity and inclusion—such as bias, discrimination and dominant culture—gave you a good foundation to understand concepts in the rest of the module.
The second chapter on Your Interpersonal Communication Preferences built on this foundation by helping you uncover more about you. It’s easy to take for granted or have blind spots about ourselves unless we focus some attention on articulating who we are and the things we like. You learned about the various dimensions of your identity, including parts of it you choose yourself and parts that are ascribed by others. You worked through OCEAN, the five-factor model of personality dimensions to better understand your own personality, and then you learned about perception and how significantly it influences our communication with others. Similarly, you examined Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, your preferred communication channels, and Belbin’s team roles all to learn more about your nature and what assumptions you bring to interpersonal communication.
Cross-cultural communication gave you the opportunity to take what you learned in the previous chapters about diversity and yourself and examine yourself and others’ interpersonal communication approaches through the lens of culture. You learned that culture involves the beliefs, attitudes, values, and traditions shared by a group of people. You examined the cultural iceberg as a metaphor for some elements of culture at the tip that are easily seen, contrasted with the majority of elements that lie in the larger mass below the surface. You had the chance to examine these hidden elements of culture in theories by Hofstede, Trompenaars, and Ting-Toomey, as well as the concept known as culture shock. Finally, you examined the intercultural development model and the associated monocultural to intercultural mindset continuum that can assist in more effectively communicating interculturally.
The chapter on conflict resolution gave you the framework and tools to understand the nature of conflict, its phases, people’s typical reactions to conflict, and approaches for managing and resolving conflict. One of the challenges of interpersonal communication is communicating in the face of conflict. Understanding people’s differences, knowing your own conflict resolution and communication style, and having some understanding of the cultural context go a long way in helping you not only manage but also resolve conflict. The chapter winds down with a focus on active listening as an important tool, as well as how business etiquette in the North American context creates a base of shared understanding and behaviour to guide our interpersonal communication efforts in the workplace.
By focusing on the challenges and opportunities around diversity, self-reflection, culture, and conflict, this module has provided you with opportunities for the necessary knowledge of yourself and others that has become a competitive advantage in communicating interpersonally in professional contexts in the 21st century.