Look around. Especially in a restaurant or airport. People are eating and traveling together but they are not really together. Everyone is staring at their phone. Perpetually scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, playing Candy Crush or Words With Friends and not being present with their people. Have you ever texted a family member in another room in your house? I know, me too. Last week I texted my son to adjust the thermostat because I was upstairs and I was cold.
Sometimes when he is on his phone right next to me I text “Hi, hello, hey, are you there?” all in different texts just to annoy him. Then I text “get off your phone” and we laugh, chat, and choose a movie for the night.
In a lot of situations, we are not really connecting or communicating. In the past, only the workaholics carried their phones with them all the time checking email and texts around the clock. Now, everyone is on their phone all the time. Is that cat video or crockpot recipe really so important that it has to interrupt your family dinner or distract you from your team meeting?
Communication is Key
My point is that communication should be at the heart of what we do as humans, especially in the workplace. Think about the history of communication devices. We went from handwritten letters that took weeks to deliver, to telegrams for urgent messages, to the telephone! Instead of reading what someone wrote you could actually hear their voice. Think of how incredible that invention was. Now you can’t get people to answer the phone that is probably in their hand. You call, they decline the call, and text you “What’s up?”
Soft Skills Training Topics
Is that really communicating? Is automation in the workplace with email, instant messaging, and texting making us lazy? Are we losing those skills? Those soft skills? When you think about soft skills training topics, what comes to mind? Listening. Coaching. Feedback. Collaboration. Conflict Management. What do all of these have in common? Communication!
This reminds me of the quote from George Bernard Shaw "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." In business, we don't have the luxury of believing the illusion. We have to train this skill. Our business depends on it.
We take it for granted that we all have the ability to listen. We are all so inundated with information and distractions. You think you can respond to email while multitasking on a conference call and cleaning off your desk. Or listen to a webinar while checking Facebook. Perhaps a few courses on active listening and the myth of multitasking might be helpful.
Coaching isn’t just about recognizing the behaviors to move employees from Rookie to Contributor to Key Player to Captain. It’s also about the coaching conversations. These involve listening, nonverbal cues, tone of voice and eye contact, along with the coaching content. Coaching training could include nonverbal communication as well as the expected coaching content.
Feedback is a two-way street, giving and receiving. It’s not limited to managers giving the feedback to direct reports. In 360 evaluations, feedback comes from all levels. Employees can ask for feedback. Your training program could cover all of these situations.
How can you possibly collaborate without good communication skills? Charades? Pictionary? Rock, paper, scissors?
The funny thing is sometimes conflict occurs because of a misunderstanding from poor communication skills. You get the idea. Communication is at the center.
Soft Skills Training at Home and at Work
I have a rule with my boys. No phones until middle school and no devices at dinner. No devices at family functions. And if I call the phone, they must answer it. And they get to call me out on it too. We hold each other accountable. I want them to be the kids that can hold a conversation with adults, relate to their peers, and communicate in complete sentences. Texting has its place, especially when they are at school or with their friends. And so does eye contact with the spoken word.
Soft Skills Training from ej4
You won’t be surprised when I tell you that ej4 offers training on all of the topics I mention above in our Business Skills library. We also offer many related soft skills training topics like emotional intelligence, barriers to effective communication, email etiquette, business writing, interpersonal communication, and communicating with the C-Suite.
If you would like to learn more about ej4, sign up for a full-featured, full library trial of Thinkzoom, our learning management system and you can view all of the courses I mentioned.
- If you are looking to buy off-the-shelf eLearning content, our blog gives you a handy checklist "How to Buy eLearning Content for Your LMS."
- Preview our soft skills training topics.
- View some of our communication skills training videos.
- Read more in our blog on top professional development skills.