Why is Communication Skills Training Important?
We all know the Two Ronnies sketch where a man walks into a shop and asks for fork handles, only to then tell the bemused shop assistant that he was, in fact, after four candles. This is perhaps an extreme example of how communication problems exist between individuals in even the most common situations, but I’m sure you’ve probably experienced similar moments with colleagues, friends and family, much to your frustration.
Despite the possibility of communication mishaps, you may be wondering why exactly you would need to send your team on a communication skills course. They can speak to each other already, surely?
When you think about it, though, even the most confident or articulate people can experience problems in terms of communicating with each other effectively. Stress, emotions, and various external factors all play a part in how we communicate with each other in the workplace. Just what is communication skills training, then, and how will it benefit a company?
Communication in the workplace
Humans have had to forge bonds and communicate in order to survive since the beginning of time. Although the modern day work situation isn’t quite so challenging, every person within a workforce must, in some way, communicate with their colleagues. If they didn’t, the company would crumble.
That’s why good reading, writing, listening and speaking skills are absolutely essential for working effectively, whatever your level or position. It is also the reason why communication training is so beneficial to your workforce.
How will good communication skills help at work?
Naturally, you wish for your staff to be proactive people who can use their initiative to solve problems. In an ideal world, all of your colleagues would communicate well at all times, without misunderstandings or conflict.
Sadly, even communication training isn’t going to guarantee that this will be the case all the time, but it can help you to greatly improve how your staff interact with each other. Being able to deliver messages clearly and understand other people means work can be completed more effectively and to the benefit of the company as a whole.
Technology and communication
The past five years has seen revolutionary changes in the technology we use to work, live and socialise. Humans communicate at faster speeds than ever before. The net result of this fact is that the way people communicate at work is an ever-changing affair. The excessive amount of virtual communication used in the office, for instance, means that oral communication skills are in decline. In addition, office social skills - a key part of creating lasting relationships with colleagues and clients - are being neglected in favour of social media skills.
Communication skills training will help your staff to learn how to handle technological communication and will re-verse them in the art of face-to-face communication.
The Hawthorne effect
Remember how, when you were little and you felt unwell, you would instantly tell your Mum? Even if the medicine, hot water bottle and bedtime story made no difference to how you physically felt, the reassurance and attention you received would somehow soothe the pain. It seems that being given more attention when there is a problem goes some way towards making us feel better.
In the same vein, research carried out in the 1950s at a factory named the Hawthorne Works drew some interesting conclusions about communication. Researchers concluded that simply giving a group of workers who had made a complaint more attention made them more productive, regardless of whether or not the issue in question was actually addressed. Hence, employers who communicate well with their staff and give them adequate attention should find that workplace productivity will increase.
How can communication skills training help your workforce?
Better listening skills
Listening, just like good communication, is an essential workplace skill. It is very easy (and very tempting on occasion) to look at a person and nod your head at regular intervals without really paying attention to what they are saying. It's much more difficult to learn how to understand precisely what the person is saying and what they want from the conversation.
Communication skills training will help your colleagues to have open and useful exchanges, where each contributor’s point of view is expressed and heard. This should in turn lead to a more positive working environment.
A greater sense of empathy
When you’re stressed out, it can be hard to sit in on an advisory team meeting and try to think about other people’s needs. However, in order to be a member of a team, workers need to be able to put themselves in their colleagues’ shoes and understand where they are coming from. Communication skills training involves exercises doing just this, which should help to enhance your employees’ empathetic sides. At the same time, it teaches workers how to be patient in their dealings with other people.
The ability to speak precisely
How many times have you suffered an attack of nerves, a dry throat or a cough, just moments before you were due to give a presentation or speak to an important person within your business? It is natural to feel some trepidation when speaking to superiors or to clients. The fact is, however, that people are far more likely to listen to a person who is to the point. Communication skills training will help you learn how best to communicate effectively in a wide range of situations, and how to be direct in order to get the most out of your dealings with others.
A better rapport with customers
Customers desire nothing more than to be understood by a company and they wish to feel like they are being heard and listened to – look at the Hawthorne Effect I mentioned earlier. This is a particularly important point if your business involves a large amount of contact with customers, either face-to-face or over the phone. Sending your customer service staff on a training course will ensure that customers are given the level of attention they deserve.
Although it might seem like we spend our entire working lives looking at a screen of some sort, communication of the verbal kind is, in fact, the key to humanity’s continued existence. As such, it should be a number one priority for companies everywhere. Communication skills training will help your business to be more efficient and productive.
This is because by teaching your staff how to communicate better, they will interact in a more constructive and productive manner, making the workplace a positive and thriving environment. In the long run, the company will see an increase in its profits and its customer and staff retention rate