Communication, Constructive Social Interaction and their Contributions to a Successful Career

Close Icon
These competencies are explicitly fostered and described in Competence View.
These competencies are fostered in this course but are not explicitly described in Competence View. Please contact the responsible person for further information. Competencies in grey are fostered in this course but are generally not the focus of Competence View, which focusses on cross-disciplinary competencies.

The course “Communication Skills - Social Competence” introduces students to a variety of theories of human communication, individual value hierarchies, personal thinking style preferences and human motivation factors. The course has been established as part of the masters’ curriculum due to positive feedback of the students in another class taught by the lecturer which contained some elements of this course as loosening elements.

One element of the lectures is based on the theory of Transactional Analysis according to Eric Berne’s and Thomas A. Harris› works on «Games People Play» and «I’m OK, You’re OK».

It also allows students to experience various other aspects of human interaction such as verbal/nonverbal communication and provides students the opportunity to further develop their presentation skills such as speech structuring, body language, imparting self-confidence, language appropriate to the target group. The course integrates a practical training of public speaking with PA Systems (Public Address Systems, i.e., Microphone, Amplifier, Loudspeaker).

The course also includes an introduction to socio-cultural specificities in various parts of the world, successful negotiation techniques and conflict management, as well as principles and practical applications of the concept of “Non-Violent Communication” according to Marshall B. Rosenberg.

Another course element is a short introduction to brain physiology, with a focus on how and in which sequence the various areas of our brain interact when we process information in social situations. With this basic knowledge, students are subsequently able to better understand the theory and practical application of thinking style preferences exemplified with the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument as one of several methods to study preferences of problem solving.

To illustrate the theories with practical examples from professional life, we use real life experiences as examples which the lecturer has encountered during his decades in managing large R&D organizations in the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.

Overarching goal
The goal is to give students a tool set for successful and non-violent forms of communication in professional and private situations by combining theories with real-life examples.

At the end of the course, students are aware of their 5-6 most important personal values and have listed them in prioritized order on “value cards”; they demonstrate that they have understood some well-established theories such as “Transactional Analysis” and the Harvard Concept of having “Difficult Conversations” as well as practical applications of thinking style preferences by giving feedback to each other and by other practical applications such as role plays. They also understand some important aspects of cultural differences of societies in various parts of the world and the consequences for successful communication in global organizations.

At the end of the course, students also have a solid understanding of what social competence means and why it is useful to act accordingly. They have adopted helpful insights into aspects of leadership, thinking styles, emotions, conflict management, negotiation & intervention techniques, and difficult conversations.

The course allows students to apply these “soft skills” in their professional careers and potentially also in private interpersonal communication.

Lesson Sequence





The teaching of the different concepts generally follows three main steps:

1.    Introduction to theory, and demonstrating why it matters.

2.    Practical examples from real life.

3.    Application in role plays and practical exercises which students actively participate in.



The part “Personal Value Coaching” is done in a guided framework that allows students to reflect about their own personal values, sort them according to their individual value hierarchy and take note of their values by creating their own “Value Cards” they can take home for later reference.

Results, outlook, and next steps
Feedback from the students shows that – as most of their curriculum focuses on natural sciences, where they learn a lot of subject-specific theories and how to collect and analyze data – this communication course gave them a different perspective of their future professional life in the industry. The combination of communication theories with exercises practiced in role-plays and illustrated by real-life examples will hopefully help them to better anticipate and prepare for their future lives. When students were asked for feedback, they mentioned that non-violent communication particularly in difficult conversations requires practice and an awareness of one’s information processing levels – such as the rational and emotional perception levels of social situations – the practical parts of the course were perceived as rather helpful and instructive. In addition to the professional perspective the course aims at, the students were also able to benefit from the content taught in their private lives, as they were able to reflect on their own personal values and behavioral tendencies.

I am sharing here some personal beliefs and my perception of the course, which may be useful food for thought for colleagues: The prerequisite for creating a trusting and open atmosphere in the relatively compact 2.5-day course is that you as a teacher share personal experiences with the students, which also encompasses your own values, weaknesses, vulnerability, and failures. In my experience, only then can the examples taken from life and your own experiences be communicated authentically, only then you are perceived as a teacher who is both approachable and convincing.

Course Description

Communication Skills - Communication Competence (full title: “Communication, Constructive Social Interaction and their Contributions to a Successful Career”)
Introduction to various communication fields using real life examples from the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. Organizational and cultural specificities, social competence, personality, thinking styles, emotions, conflict management, negotiation & intervention techniques, difficult conversations. The course allows students to apply soft skills in their professional careers.
- Students can describe and apply some basic principles of different communication theories and thinking preferences (e.g., Transactional Analysis, Non-violent Communication, Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument, Difficult Conversations).
- Students can apply communication and presentation skills and are able to communicate more effectively after the course.
- Students will be aware of success factors when working in organizational hierarchies and complex matrix organizations.
- Students demonstrate self-reflection and awareness about the importance of personal values, cultural specificities, languages, social competence, and individual personality.
- Students demonstrate self-reflection, especially in difficult interpersonal situations and can propose solutions to overcome them. They can explain the importance of emotions; they can apply conflict management strategies, know about how to build, and lead teams and are able to constructively use the diversity of individuals in the management of teams.
- Students can explain the roles of stakeholders, leaders and teams and the typical communication patterns in a pharmaceutical or medical device company.
511-0037-00 G
up to 25 students (max. 30 students)
Pharmaceutical Sciences (MSc)
Block course, 2.5 days
Teaching Power:
1 lecturer
15 min. oral examination, examiner and co-examiner