Spitzberg & Cupach’s




Instructions:      Answer each item honestly as it currently applies to you in typical conversations with others.  Use the following scale:

                        1                      2                      3                      4                      5

                  strongly          slightly            unsure           slightly         strongly

                  disagree         disagree                                 agree            agree



          1.     I want to adapt my communication behavior to meet others’ expectations.

          2.     I have enough knowledge and experiences to adapt to others’ expectations.

          3.     I use a wide range of behaviors, including self-disclosure and wit, to adapt to others.

          4.     I want to be involved in the conversations I have with other people.

          5.     I know how to respond because I am perceptive and attentive to others’ behaviors.

          6.     I show my involvement in conversation both nonverbally and verbally.

          7.     I want to make my conversations with others go smoothly.

          8.     I know how to change topics and control the tone of my conversations.

          9.     It is easy for me to manage conversations the way I want them to proceed.

        10.     I want to understand other people’s viewpoints and emotions.

        11.     I know that empathy means to try to see it through their eyes and feel what they feel.

        12.     I show my understanding of others by reflecting their thoughts and feelings to them.

        13.     I am motivated to obtain the conversational goals I set for myself.

        14.     Once I set an interpersonal goal for myself, I know the steps to take to achieve it.

        15.     I successfully achieve my interpersonal goals.

        16.     I want to communicate with others in an appropriate manner.

        17.     I am aware of the rules that guide social behavior.

        18.     I act in ways that meet situational demands for appropriateness.


                  Overall Total



Possible “Overall Total” should range between 18-90.

Higher values indicate more communication competence.

Lower values indicate less communication competence.

Spitzberg & Cupach’s

Model of Communication Competence



Motivation: add items 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, and 16 =                                                           

      This is your desire to approach or avoid conversation and/or social situations.  Your goals (what you want and with whom) motivate you to act.  Your confidence or lack of confidence that you will be successful affects your motivation, as well.


Knowledge: add items 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, and 17 =                                                          

      This involves knowing how to act.  Once you decide to pursue a conversational goal, you construct plans to obtain it.  Previous experience and/or observing others informs your knowledge of what constitutes a workable plan. 


Skill: add items 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, and 18 =                                                                       .

      This involves the behaviors actually performed.  You might be motivated and knowledgeable about how to act in the particular situation, but lack some basic skills. 




Criteria to Evaluate Interpersonal Communication Competence


Adaptability: Examine your scores on items 1, 2, 3.

      These scores reflect your ability to change behaviors and goals to meet the needs of the interaction, also known as “flexibility”.


Conversational Involvement: Examine your scores on items 4, 5, 6.

      These scores reflect your ability to become cognitively involved in the conversation and demonstrate involvement through interaction behaviors like head nods, vocal cues, etc.


Conversation Management: Examine your scores on items 7, 8, 9.

      These scores reflect your ability to regulate conversation through controlling the topic, adjusting to a change in topic, interrupting, and asking questions. 


Empathy: Examine your scores on items 10, 11, 12.

      These scores reflect your ability to show your conversational partner that you understand his/her situation or that you share his/her emotional reactions to the situation.


Effectiveness: Examine your scores on items 13, 14, 15.

      These scores reflect your ability to achieve the objectives you have for conversations.


Appropriateness: Examine your scores on items 16, 17, 18.

      These scores reflect your ability to uphold the expectations for a given situation by behaving in ways other people expect of you. Note: If you achieve your goals, but violate the expectations the other has for you and your relationship, then you are less than competent.