What is the secret of effective communication

New Third Edition Coming Soon!

This book was designed to make you as workplace-ready as possible, and to equip you with the skills to finesse any communication challenge.  To be a successful professional communicator – and successful in business, period – you must understand the right approach with the right audience at the right time.  While experience is always the best teacher, it is not always the most forgiving.

The Secret Handshake: Effective Communication Strategies for the Workplace lives up to its title by revealing an insider’s view of the proven strategies needed to get the job done.  This book provides advanced, strategic approaches to effectively communicating with any audience in any professional setting.  Through reading this book, you won’t just learn how to write or collaborate or deliver a professional presentation; instead, you’ll learn how to think and act to strategically adapt your communication approach to suit the context and audience of any given situation.

Rooted in theory, with accessible guidance for turning theory into practice, this book gives any professional a leg up into understanding the “secret handshake” for getting your message read, heard, and understood.  Whether you are new to the workplace or you are a seasoned pro interested in sharpening your skills to become more competitive, The Secret Handshake: Effective Communication Strategies for the Workplacewill give you a whole new way of understanding how to navigate the complexities of communicating in an ever-changing world. You will develop the professional persona sought after by employers as you discover the secrets to enhancing your interpersonal communication, virtual communication, intercultural communication, and professional presentation skills. 

The author team are accomplished Business Communication professionals with extensive experience in university teaching.  This diverse group brings a wide range of industry experience and professional training to both the classroom and the written page.  With close to 100 years of combined teaching experience, the team is highly skilled in training personnel at all career stages to succeed in their professional communication development.  Their professional backgrounds range from working in the corporate world (film, publishing, consulting, and corporate communication) to the non-profit sector (with focuses on English as a Second Language, social justice, social services, and government agencies).  

Chapter 1-1: Establishing Standards for Success 
Critical Thinking 
Logic and Reasoning 
Structural Coherence 
Information Design 
Error Interference 

Chapter 1-2: Developing Strategic Communication 
Audience Awareness 
Purpose and Scope 
Strategic Approach 
Informational Communication – Direct Approach 
Negative Communication – Direct and Indirect Approach 
Persuasive communication – Direct and Indirect Approach 

Chapter 1-3: Preparing for the Job Search 
The Right Match ​
Resumes – a Snapshot 
Cover letters – a Trailer 
Interviews – an Academy Award Winner

Chapter 2-1: Understanding the Power of Professional Persona
The Value You Bring to the Workplace 
Strategies for Impression Management 

Chapter 2-2: Navigating Workplace Culture
Positive Workplace Cultures
Assessing Workplace Culture

Chapter 2-3: Connecting, Collaborating, and Engaging Team Meetings and Group Communication
High-Stake Conversations

Chapter 2-4: Addressing Team Pitfalls and Conflict
Pitfalls to Avoid
Conflict Management
Best Practices for Teams

Chapter 2-5: Conducting a Stakeholder Analysis
Four-Step Process
Practice and Application

Chapter 2-6: Managing Client Communication
Types of Consultation
The Consulting Process

Chapter 2-7: Crafting Stories That Create Connection
What’s Your Story?
Basic Story Structures
The Science to Support Storytelling in Business

Chapter 3-1: Grasping the Power of Presentations

Level of Formality
Types of Presentations

Chapter 3-2: Starting with a Plan
Audience Perspective
The Five Why’s
Mining and Presenting Data
The Story Line

Chapter 3-3: Being the Presentation
Verbal and Vocal Delivery
Physical Delivery
Charisma and Authenticity
Team Presentations

Chapter 3-4: Driving Discussion, the Art of Q&A
Questions or Opportunities
The Root of the Question - Active Listening
Types of Questions and Strategies for Addressing them
More on the Benefits of Q&A

Chapter 3-5: Using Presentation Aids and Visual Design
Visuals that Support
Presentation vs Lecture
Eye Appeal
The Art of Simplicity
Signs and Symbols
Quantitative Data Visualizations
Qualitative Data Visualizations
The Golden Mean
The Rule of Thirds
The Value of Pictures
Fonts, Colors, and Layout
A Load of CRAP
Animation and Transitions
Navigation – One-Click, Trackers, and Index Slide
Hidden Slides
Final Check Points

Chapter 4-1: Understanding the Global Challenge: Why Companies Succeed or Fail Overseas

Motivation to Expand Internationally
Company Preparedness to Expand
Legal and Political Requirements
Openness to Foreign Investments
Appropriate Response to Global Challenges
Business Organizational Structures
Five Dimensions of Culture
Cultural Insights and Considerations
An Illustrative Business Scenario
Business and Negotiation Practices
Global Business Etiquette

Chapter 4-2: Increasing Your Intercultural IQ
Social Contexts
Cross-Cultural Language Issues
Forms of Verbal Interaction
Written Communication Insights
Non-Verbal Communication Matters

Chapter 5-1: Stepping into the Virtual World

Virtual Communication
Virtual Teams in Companies
Traditional vs Virtual Collaboration
Virtual Distance

Chapter 5-2: Writing for Screens
Email Correspondence
Clarity and Conciseness
Too Long; Didn’t Dead
Language Selection
Unintended Audiences
Written Communication Limitations
Small Screens

Chapter 5-3: Presenting Through Screens
Video Conferencing Tools
Small Screens
Limitations – Technical Difficulties

Chapter 5-4: Collaborating Through Screens
Degrees of Virtual Collaboration
Successful Virtual Teams
Team Member Characteristics
Roles and Processes

Chapter 6-1: Amazon Case Study

Amazon: Speed and Sacrifice?
Faster and Faster
The Need for Speed
Congress Call for Action
Amazon Reacts
Will Amazon get Street Smart?
Practice Assignments Context

Chapter 6-2: Gillette Case Study
Gillette: Cutting Edge Ad Campaign
Rough Reception
Gillette’s Perspective
Gillette Pushes the Envelope Again
Bottom Line
Practice Assignments Context

Chapter 6-3: JUUL Case Study
JUUL: Into the Mouths of Babes
Allegations of Targeting Teenagers
JUUL Reacts
JULL Continues to Smolder in the Spotlight
Up in Smoke?
Practice Assignments Context

Chapter 6-4: New Orleans Saints Case Study
Saints Call FOUL on Non-Call
The Call That Was Never Called
No Call Consequences
Goodell on the Defensive
Refocus on Replay?
The End Zone
Practice Assignments Context

Chapter 6-5: Tide Pods Case Study
Tide POD Challenge = Rising Tide of Poisoning
Why Are Tide PODS so Dangerous?
What Is the “Tide POD Challenge”?
Proctor and Gamble’s Response
Call to Ban the Pods
Additional Lawsuits
Practice Assignments Context

Unit 6 Appendix: Sample Answers
Amazon Sample Answers 
Gillette Sample Answers
JUUL Sample Answers
New Orleans Saints Sample Answers
Tide Pods Sample Answers


Cherilyn Boyer

Cherilyn Boyer specializes in teaching Business Communication, Intercultural Competency, and English as a Second Language. She has taught at the University of Arizona since 1989, serving international and domestic students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. She has presented on teaching methodology at conferences in both the U.S. and five foreign countries.

Cheryl Brodersen

Cheryl Brodersen is a long-time college lecturer with an M.A. in Linguistics, and is a doctoral candidate in Higher Education. Her academic interests include grammar, pedagogy, writing instruction, learning disabilities, and collaborative learning. Through extensive experiences teaching abroad, she is an expert in English as a Second Language and English as a Foreign Language pedagogy.

Mikel Chertudi

Mikel Chertudi has a strong foundation in start-up business development, international business, cross-cultural communication, and strategic marketing. He draws from this experience to help students achieve their goals and succeed in the workplace.

Caitlin Hills

Caitlin Hills has worked in Washington, D.C. for fifteen years as an advisor to a U.S. Senator and legislative director for several non-profit organizations. She has been an instructor of effective communication at the University of Arizona since 2015.

Michael Mandel

Michael Mandel spent much of his career in nonprofit senior-level communication and management positions.  Since 2005, Mr. Mandel has also been the principle of Mandel Management Solutions, specializing in communication and management strategies for nonprofits and small businesses.  Armed with an MBA, he jumped to academia in 2013, focusing on the practical applications of management and communication concepts.  His pedagogy includes national conferences and trainings, domestic and international undergraduate classes, and MBA courses.  He served as executive editor for this text.

Kimberly Marchesseault

Kim Marchesseault brings a wealth of experience from both the public and private sectors.  An award winning teacher, Kim’s training and focus are on experiential learning in the classroom, preparing students for the professional world by guiding them through live consulting projects. Kim is committed to hands on learning and positive community impact.

Marisa Michaels

Marisa Michaels is a communication specialist and serves as the Associate Director of the Business Communications Program at the Eller College of Management. Marisa has over 15 years of consulting and teaching experience. Prior to joining the University of Arizona, she served an Adjunct Professor of Communication Studies at University of San Francisco, and Partner in The Tangerine Group, a boutique consulting firm serving the San Francisco Bay Area.  Marisa holds a B.A. and Ed.D. in Communication and Organization from the University of San Francisco and an M.A. in Communication from San Francisco State University.

Diza Sauers

Diza Sauers is the Director of the Business Communication Program at Eller College of Management.  As a Professor of Practice, she oversees the core design and delivery of communication curriculum for all platforms the college offers: Executive Education, MBA, Undergraduate, and Online.  The recipient of multiple teaching awards and research grants, Diza is also a published author in a variety of disciplines.