In 1951, an educator named Elwood Murray reckoned that communication issues are at the heart of all relationship problems.
Wherever there are problems in human relations in the world today, there appear to be problems of communication.
72 years later and I don't think much has changed.
Breakdowns in communication are the main the cause of tension and unhappiness at work. Gallup’s 2023 report found the biggest issues for employees are feeling cared about at work, clarity of expectations and connection to the mission of the company.
All of these are communication problems.
If poor communication is causing such widespread disengagement, what are organisations doing to try to solve this problem?
Well, not a lot.
Investment in internal communication appears to be declining since the end of the pandemic.
And there is little appetite to ensure that employees have adequate communication skills. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced an organisation that had mandatory communication training for employees. (If you have – write to me, I want to hear about it.)
There seems to be an assumption that communication is easy and training isn't needed.
But what if we did things differently?
What if organisations invested time, money and energy into training employees to be better communicators - what would happen?
A study from Yarmouk University in 2019 asked this very question in an academic setting. The authors had observed that university courses focused only on academic training without any consideration of ‘soft skills’ such as communication.
The researchers wondered what difference would it make to students if communication training was prioritised alongside academic learning. So they set up a study to find out.
The aim was to infuse top-notch communication skills into a sample of students who spanned a range of disciplines, including medicine, art and science. The students took a course in Effective Communication Skills for three semesters.
The findings from the research were astonishing.
The communications training had significant impact on a huge range of critical areas. By the end of the training, students had an improved ability to:
Speak with clarity
Work well in a team
Cooperate with others
Tolerate others viewpoints
Understand other people’s feelings
Deal with conflict
Hang on… empathy, listening, understanding, cooperation… don’t these sound like the fundamental building blocks for a healthy organisational culture?
And we can get all of this from simply teaching effective communication skills?
Here’s some homework for you to put this research to good use.
Assess your organisation’s ability to support employees with communication training. What training is currently on offer? How could this be improved? Start up a conversation internally about this - use the Yarmouk University study as a way to outline how important this is.
Whenever you're ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:
Consulting: I help organisations create effective systems of internal communication. This includes reviewing your current system, developing internal communication strategies, establishing internal communication functions and more. Book a free call to discuss how I can help you.
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Training: I run workshops on effective internal communication, measurement, AI in internal communication, newsletters, effective writing and other internal communication topics. I often develop bespoke training for clients. Email me to discuss your training needs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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