Introduction to Workplace Communication Skills




Human beings need social contacts. That’s how people learn. They learn by relating themselves with others in social contexts directly or indirectly.


People make mistakes: communication breakdowns; the mismatch between the speaker’s intention and the listener’s interpretation; emotional involvement instead of investigating the core issue; assumptions with no grounds; the absence of the collaborating stage to define and adjust boundaries in the particular context of two or more parties


No matter what personality types or working styles they have, professionals need to be flexible working alone, collaborating, and socializing at work anyway.




Building up flexibility in thinking, interpreting, behaving, and reflecting in the context


Core Skills:


Agreeing and Disagreeing; Compromising; Negotiating


Basic Principals:


  1. We only consider behaviors including the language people use, not the people – In Canada, everybody has a story. All of our colleagues we meet have different backgrounds even if they come from the same culture. We cannot judge anybody by their appearance, skin color, accent or gestures because we can never know what family culture they experienced or what their personal background was like. We all come from different asteroids which others have never been to, so to speak, every single person is a different asteroid. Therefore, we can only discuss what appears to be a fact or facts in the particular context. No more than that is expected to be discussed in this book.


  1. Power and distance are considered – We are talking about ESL schools and institutions. When immigrant adults are considered whether as ESL learners or ESL instructors, ‘Power’ is an inevitable factor in the context because many immigrant professionals come from power-dominated. ‘Distance’ is one of the most important values that is expected to be observed by Canadians.


  1. We cannot control other people’s behaviors, however, we can still request others to stop their inappropriate behaviors at work. It is not inappropriate to ask my coworkers to change their behaviors because I DO feel uncomfortable with them. Two things to remember about this point: (1) Others can always reject or refuse my requests; (2) let us check in with ourselves beforehand asking questions as ‘Self-Reflection Questionnaire’ (next page).


  1. The boundary needs to be agreed by all participants in the context. An open conversation about the boundary needs to be set up before any assumptions can be unnecessarily involved in the context (often mingled with emotions and feelings). Again, it is not inappropriate to talk about boundaries with my coworkers. Oftentimes, boundary issues significantly affect problematic situations, that is, the core issue in problematic situations can often result from an unclear boundary or the mismatch of different boundaries participants have in mind. Let us peel this out of the ‘unspoken rules and expectations’.


  1. ‘I’ statements are used instead of ‘you should….’ ‘you didn’t….’ ‘you are….’ ‘you…..’. I can only change my behaviors. What I can do in any context is a choice to make. I would rather choose to make a right choice for myself and a better working relationship at work. I cannot force or impose anybody to understand me to change their behaviors. They have their choices to make. I am not responsible for other people’s behaviors or feelings but they Do have the responsibility for their own behaviors and their own feelings.


  1. I am responsible for my behaviors. My behavior is my choice and what I brought into the situation, not because somebody caused me to do a certain action as a result. Nobody can force or impose me to make a particular choice of an action in Canada because I am a free and independent individual. When I realize I made a mistake, I accept it and apologize for that behavior. It is okay to do so and nobody should judge me because of the mistake. People continuously learn and grow no matter how old they are.


  1. Feelings are out of the picture – Feelings at work need to be communicated appropriately which means calmly and in a reciprocal manner. Fairness should be abided by all parties in the context in Canada. Dominating a situation with a certain behavior coming from a single-sided view or perspective without an open conversation tackling the core issue may threaten the safety and security of the workplace: Discrimination and Workplace Harassment. Let us remember that I can acknowledge how I feel and how others feel, however, I am responsible for my feelings while others are responsible for their feelings just as I am responsible for my behaviors while others are responsible for their behaviors.


  1. Rewards – the greatest reward of making efforts into communicating better is (1) an excellent relationship with myself (2) good relationship with my colleagues and ultimately (3) my own personal happiness.



Then, why not try this out? Shall we?



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