Lifelong Learning for a Brighter World

young male professional pointing at a whiteboard while giving a presentation to a male client in a boardroom young male professional pointing at a whiteboard while giving a presentation to a male client in a boardroom

The Essentials

Critical tools for success.

Learn professional skills for success with these focused programs.

Communication Essentials Courses


Note: If you are planning to use these courses as electives in the Business Administration Diploma, please contact us for academic values. 

ESS 797 Art of Active Listening (0.5 days)

Arguably the most important communication skill is also the most underrated.  That is, the art of active listening.  It is far more important to actively listen than it is to talk. In this half day course you will identify the importance of active listening and the high cost of not listening in terms of lost productivity and morale.  You will learn effective listening strategies and the importance of Listener-Centered Communication -- putting yourself in the talker's shoes and understanding things from the other person's perspective.

Instructors: Lori Stephenson

ESS 798 Meetings that Make a Difference (0.5 days)

How do you think most people describe the typical meeting they attend in your organization? In many organizations, you would expect comments like "What a waste of time...", "I wonder how I can get out of this meeting...", or "What on earth did that accomplish?" Learn how to turn boring, wasteful, unproductive meetings into dynamic, engaging, productive experiences that engage people fully and produce results. This highly interactive course will provide practical advice and easy-to-use tools and processes that will make people want to attend your meetings

ESS 800 Dealing with Difficult People (0.5 day)

Throughout our workday we interact with a variety of people. Whether they are customers or managers, employees or peers, some people can be difficult.  How we handle these people and the difficulty they cause will determine either a positive or negative outcome for us—and for them. Get equipped with a variety of techniques to manage the emotional upheaval triggered by difficult behaviours. Tools and strategies are also offered to enable the participants to deal with difficult people face-to-face. Since many of us avoid speaking up because we don’t know what to say, an opportunity will be given to prepare the actual words with which to address a variety of difficult behaviours.

Instructors: Sue Vaughan

ESS 801 Customer Service Excellence (0.5 day)

Why does providing good customer service matter?  In this fast-paced half-day course, develop an understanding of the impact that you can have on your organization’s reputation.  Explore concepts raised in Raving Fans, a top-selling book about customer service.  Find out why it is important to have raving fans and not just satisfied customers.  During the interactive session, you will enhance your skills to deliver fantastic service to both internal and external customers regardless of whether the interaction takes place through email, by phone or face-to-face.

Instructors: Peter O'Donnell

ESS 805 Unconscious Bias: How We Make Decisions - NEW! (0.5 Days)

Our behaviour is impacted by the assumptions, biases and stereotypes (positive and negative) that exist in our subconscious. We tend to believe that we are seeing everything in its complete form, however, it’s not possible for us to see the world as it is. Instead, we see the world through the lens of our experiences, biases and various identity factors. As a result, the assumptions we hold shape the decisions that we make, but these decisions may be creating unequal outcomes for our employees. For leaders, it is important to be aware of how our experiences, influenced by intersecting factors, can influence the way in which we communicate, how we approach and resolve conflict and ultimately how we lead. This course presents an introduction to unconscious bias and provides strategies to challenge our assumptions, improve our policies and create an inclusive workplace.

Instructors: Rumeet Billan

ESS 807 Strengthening Communications with True Colors* (1 day)

True Colors™ is an internationally renowned model for understanding yourself and others based on one's personality temperament. The model uses four colors: Orange, Green, Blue and Gold to differentiate the four central personality styles. Everyone possesses a combination of the colors; yet one of the colors is usually the most dominant. By gaining an understanding of the different colors and becoming aware of your own dominant color, you can strengthen your communication approach with others and adapt your style if needed to help maximize positive results. This insightful tool is easy to remember and has application in a wide range of personal and professional situations. Participants will have the opportunity to practice applying strategies in a variety of communication scenarios during the session.

Instructors: Linda Spence

ESS 809 Gender-Inclusive Communication & Collaboration (1 Day)

In this course, we recognize the significance of gender diversity training but go beyond it to become gender-inclusive. First, we distinguish between the biological-driven aspects of our behavior from the socially and culturally entrenched ones, likening it to an iceberg. Next, using organizational studies and through interactive learning activities, we examine the interplay in how gender shapes the workplace and its organizational culture, from our communication patterns, perceptions of hierarchy and power, to our networking, collaboration and leadership styles. Then, we use various insights from researchers, organizational development experts and thought leaders to showcase workplaces that are more gender-diverse and gender-inclusive in their culture and decision-making. As a key learning outcome and takeaway, learners will be given a diagnostic tool that can help assess the relative gender inclusion at their workplace and learn strategies to help create more gender-inclusive workplaces.

Instructors: Nitin Deckha

ESS 817 Business Storytelling (1 day)

The art of leadership and management includes the ability to ‘weave a tale’ that engages, motivates, and inspires. Storytelling gives context and adds meaning; it helps strengthen the links between individual teams and bigger organizational goals. Effective managers need to learn how to connect in a more meaningful and intimate way with people to achieve buy-in and commitment. People tell business stories to communicate and connect with employees, customers, colleagues, partners, suppliers, and the media. Business stories differ from regular stories, in that you tell them with an objective, goal, or desired outcome in mind, rather than for entertainment. Participants will learn: how to communicate and connect better with their audience; how to build their story repertoire; how to distill their message; and how to improve their business speaking and writing skills.

ESS 821 Leading Millennials - NEW! (0.5 Days)

In an environment in which 40% of the workforce is comprised of Millennials, and disruption of industry, product, and process is constant and unrelenting, understanding and learning how to lead this generation has become an integral part of organizations’ people strategy. This course presents a framework for practices that support the recruitment and retention of Millennials. A look at the Millennial experience and the unique attributes of this generation are examined, and the impact on recruitment, engagement and retention strategies are explored. Leadership that understands how to attract, recruit and retain top talent for the future is essential for thriving in a culture of disruption and change.

Instructors: Rumeet Billan

ESS 834 Giving & Receiving Constructive Feedback (1 day)

Interested in honing your verbal delivery skills and your ability to really hear and process feedback?  Typically one of the most dreaded interpersonal interactions we face, this course is packed with interaction and practical techniques for both the "giver" and "receiver" of constructive feedback.  Learn how to remove or minimize the fear that surrounds this common and often stressful communication necessity.

Instructors: Sue Vaughan

ESS 835 Emotional Intelligence at Work* (1 day)

A growing body of research shows that Emotional Intelligence is more important to personal and professional success than IQ, and that it is the single most important contributor to effective performance and leadership. During this interactive presentation you will be introduced to a wide variety of concepts and techniques related to effectively applying Emotional Intelligence. Explore how to better understand, manage and leverage your and others' emotions in order to manage conflict, deal with stress and to relate to others more effectively and productively. Implications for leadership and management capacity will also be discussed. A common theme that runs through this course is people, and the ability to understand, connect, react and relate to them. This courses includes an assignment that must be completed prior to the course.  Registrants will be emailed instructions approximately one week prior to the course.

Instructors: Lori Stephenson

ESS 838 Delivering Powerful Presentations (1 day)

This fun, effective and interactive course provides practical and proven strategies for planning, preparing and delivering powerful presentations. Learn and practice how to combat nervousness associated with public speaking along with understanding how to effectively construct the elements of a meaningful and purposeful presentation.

ESS 877 Negotiation Skills (1 day)

Negotiation is the art and science of securing agreements between two or more interdependent parties.  It can be very difficult to do well. Even the most experienced negotiators often fall prey to common biases and errors in judgment. The purpose of this course is to help you understand the theory and process of effective negotiations. The best way to learn negotiation skills and actually internalize them is to negotiate in a setting where insight is offered, feedback is plentiful, personal reflection is encouraged, and careful analysis is required. Therefore, the course relies primarily on “hands on” learning to help participants understand the negotiating process and their own strengths and weaknesses. Note: This course is intended for general business situations.

Instructors: Janice Locke

ESS 895 Effective Business Writing (1 day)

People are sometimes too busy to read all e-mails and other written correspondence that comes across their desks. Correspondence needs to be well-written to be well-read! Learn to prepare correspondence that gets attention and makes it "reader-friendly". Discover how to add personality to your writing while maintaining a professional style which is easily understood, free of unnecessary words and suitable for the intended audience. Learn how to write to persuade readers to see your point of view. Another key element of the session will be to produce written communication that maintains positive relations within the workplace. This course includes an assignment that must be completed prior to the course.  Registrants will be emailed instructions approximately one week prior to the course.

Instructors: Lori Stephenson

ESS 899 Conflict Resolution in the Workplace (1 day)

This one-day course will assist you in understanding your individual style of conflict resolution and both the positive and negative impacts of your style in managing conflict effectively. Discuss why conflict happens in the work setting, and discover practical tips for managing conflict. You will also learn about constructive routes to communication and agreement, consider your own ways for dealing with conflict and practice various ways of communicating more effectively.

Instructors: Linda Spence

ESS 902 Coaching & Mentoring (2 days)

This two-day Coaching & Mentoring course is highly interactive and experiential, giving participants the opportunity to understand the concepts and practice use of the skills in a coaching conversation. Mentoring relationships have existed for many years in the workplace on an ad hoc basis. While the concept has existed, there is still mystique around the meaning and value. A half-day session will enable participants to understand the value of mentoring and more importantly, develop skills to create and manage mentoring relationships, both as mentors and mentees. The remainder of the course is devoted to coaching.  Coaching is fundamentally about facilitating change that will lead to desired results: facilitating movement from a current state to a desired future state. This 1 ½ day session will provide leaders with the skills needed to use coaching to leverage the organizations investment in human capital (people).

Instructors: Lori Stephenson

* Students must enrol at least two weeks before the start date to allow time for an online assessment to be completed prior to the course 

^Next course held on McMaster's main campus