Workshop: Communication in Project Management

By, Alina Buzgar

The Personal Development Week (PDW) was started on Monday October 20 with a series of workshops including “Communication in Project Management” held by Shannon Mathis and Michael Rasmussen from Sharas.


“Our goal during Professional Development Week is two-fold.” says Dodie Busch Senior Director Career Coaching and Development at Career Management Center (CMC). “One, is to provide students with workshops that enhance personal and functional skills and competencies. Second, is to provide career connections through networking opportunities, company information sessions, and the career fair.”


The objective of the workshop was to introduce the concept of perspective and its relationship to communication in project management and personal interaction. “The workshop was focused on enhancing communication skills for the project manager, but could be applied more broadly.  Because this workshop qualified for continuing education credits for the Project Management certification program through the Project Management Institute, we were excited to offer this opportunity to our students pursuing or having their Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.” adds Dodie Busch.



Shannon and Michael attempted to demonstrate how becoming aware of one’s interpretation is the cornerstone to successful interaction. They support the idea that effective communication begins at an individual level so all business and project management communication begins with each of us. The workshop was engaging at times as it used examples and small group work to drive the concepts forward. “Unfortunately it was somewhat disappointing as it didn’t seem to have the depth that I expected” says one of the participants.


Key takeaways:

  • Personal interpretation in communication is instant and generally not deliberate; that is why it is very vulnerable to emotions like anger, frustration of fear.
  • You should focus on the facts; take into account that your facts and their facts might differ. If you do not have the facts and you need to create an alternate scenario to what is the cause of the communication use a positive perspective.
  • Communication enhancement tools that you can use include “stop, start, continue”, Socratic questioning, and project kick-off meetings.
  • John Gottem’s relationship research and the 4 horsemen: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. (see more at
  • Remember that you are not responsible for other people’s communication so focus on your own.


Asked about her team’s collaboration with Thunderbird Shannon says “we have worked with the Thunderbird PM Club on several occasions. We enjoy bringing the PM professionals together with students because it seems to generate fresh ideas and perspectives. We believe the perception concepts we teach can help students in both their student and business careers.”


Shannon sums up the session: “The key to effective communication is separating the actual facts from your interpretation of the facts. For example, if your colleague does not respond to an email you sent, you may feel like she is avoiding you, and that could make you feel rejected. All that really happened is you sent an email and did not receive a response. You feel rejected because of the meaning you placed on what happened. Once you become aware that you made the meaning up, you can get out of your head and start asking questions. Why didn’t she return your email? Hmmmm, maybe it’s time to walk over to her office and ask her.”


You are also invited to check out their website ( This workshop was eligible to be claimed towards Professional Development hours with the Project Management Institute at


Did you participate in the workshop? Share with us your learning experience.





Speakers BIO

Shannon Mathis is a licensed counselor with a Master of Science in Counseling and a Bachelor of Arts in Interpersonal Communication.  She has worked in the behavioral health field since 2001, serving a variety of populations including children, families, couples and probationers.  She is passionate about giving back to her community, serves as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for the Arizona Judiciary, and lends her services to other local organizations. She believes that perceptions motivated by kindness and acts of service are essential to revolutionizing the world.


Shannon is certified in Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy, a therapeutic modality that uses horses to facilitate therapy sessions. In 2004 she created a therapeutic equine program used by local school districts  for at risk students. Shannons program encouraged students to form meaningful relationships with their equine partners, and to see life from their perspective. From this program and her own life experience, Shannon was inspired to create The Perception Process.  She has since seen it transform lives, including her own. She is excited and honored to share The Perception Process an integral part of The Perception Revolution with the world.



Michael Rasmussen holds a Master Degree in International Management from Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics with a minor in Philosophy from Arizona State University. Michael has had the opportunity to implement his diverse range of business experience by living and working in Spain, Cuba, and Central America. He is passionate about education and has spearheaded multiple projects at both the University of Phoenix and other learning centers. He currently teaches International Business at the University of Phoenix.


In 2010 Michael obtained his Project Management Professional® certificate from the Project Management Institute®. Upon learning the project management principles, he was inspired to create a simple process that people could use to accomplish their lifelong visions. From this inspiration, The Clarify, Choose, Create Process was born. Michaels passion and belief in The Perception Revolution comes from personal experience and from witnessing drastic and positive changes in the people around him.

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