Original Publication
Open Access

Techniques for Teaching Communication Skills: Developing "Great Communicators"

Published: December 1, 2014 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9974

Included in this publication:

  • Instructor's Guide.doc
  • Resource File List.docx
  • Pre-Session Self-Evaluation and Key.docx
  • Opening Case-The Difficult Patient.docx
  • Communication Workshop.pptx
  • Participant Role Play-In The Trenches.docx
  • Appreciative Inquiry.docx
  • Workshop Evaluation Form.docx
  • Supplemental Activity Information.docx
  • Glossary.doc
  • Bibliography.doc

To view all publication components, extract (i.e., unzip) them from the downloaded .zip file.

Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


Introduction: Many national medical organizations have identified the significance of communication within the patient-physician relationship. The AAMC, the Kalamazoo II Report, the ACGME, and the ABMS have each issued calls for the development and maintenance of effective interpersonal skills to be applied during medical encounters. In order to do so, faculty need to be able to teach the core competencies of interpersonal and communication skills to medical learners. Therefor, the authors created this resource for educators who are developing their skills for teaching learners how to practice active listening as a basic element of communication in their clinical practice. Methods: Techniques to teach these communication skills within clinical settings are presented and explored through interactive lectures, media, role-plays, and appreciative inquiry. This program can be appropriate for undergraduate medical education, graduate medical education, and faculty continuing their medical education. Results: This workshop is a regularly scheduled college-wide offering of Baylor College of Medicine Faculty Development Office for the last 5 years, with an average overall quality rating of 4.6 on a 1 to 5 scale (5 being highest). Attendees believed the workshop increased their ability to think and reflect upon their own communication skills and that their medical learners would benefit from their participation. Attendees repeatedly noted that the opportunity to actually experience and then discuss communication barriers provided invaluable insights. Representative comments from participants include: “Small group discussion and diversity of workshop style kept audience very engaged throughout the workshop,“ and “The use of video to juxtapose differences in communication really helped. Additionally, role playing gave the opportunity to experience communication barriers first-hand.” Discussion: The workshop has been presented using a variety of formats and based on feedback from program participants, the interactive components of the workshop are essential. Presenting the information in an interactive manner allowed participants to draw upon their own experience as communicators and reflect on making changes in how they teach communication and listening styles to learners. The inclusion of role-plays, media clips, small-group discussion, and reflection exercises enhance the workshop by reinforcing communication concepts and strategies. This should be kept in mind when altering the time frames.

Educational Objectives

By the end of this session, the learner will be able to:

  1. Identify opportunities to teach the basic elements of communication as described in national competency consensus statements.
  2. Describe how the concepts of relationship-centered care apply to our clinical communication teaching.
  3. Demonstrate/observe specific skills of effective listening in patient encounters.
  4. Recognize effective techniques to teach listening skills.

Author Information

  • Toi Harris, MD: Baylor College of Medicine
  • Nadia Ismail, MD, Med, MPH: Baylor College of Medicine
  • Sheila Loboprabhu, MD: Baylor College of Medicine
  • Ayesha Mian, MD: Baylor College of Medicine
  • Geeta Singhal, MD, MEd: Baylor College of Medicine
  • Joseph Kass, MD, JD: Baylor College of Medicine
  • Joan Friedland, MD, MPH: Baylor College of Medicine

None to report.

None to report.


Harris T, Ismail N, Loboprabhu S, et al. Techniques for teaching communication skills: developing "great communicators." MedEdPORTAL. 2014;10:9974. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9974