• Wali Muhammad

When Training Deteriorates Communication Skills

Updated: Jan 21, 2019

Listening, paraphrasing, visual contact, attention to body language, etc., are some very empowering communication techniques. They are quite easy to learn too. But to use them to enrich relationships and drive conflicts to collaborations is more than merely learning some techniques. It demands personal transformation, a new way of looking at the world and people.

Interpersonal skills workshops framed around learning and employing communication techniques with little or no information on understanding one’s own self rather serve to deteriorate participants’ communication skills.

Think about it. We all know some characters we absolutely want to stay away from. They pervade our contexts as intimidating bosses or authoritarian teachers/professors. Friends or family members that are impossible to figure whether what they said was admiration or disapproval. Colleagues that probably read The 48 Laws of Power every night to drive people into their traps the next morning.

Let’s call these communication styles aggressive, passive-aggressive, and manipulative, respectively. Their common root is a worldview based out of a sense of insecurity, where people are a threat to one’s identity and all that’s dear to one.

If you give yourself to some honest self-assessment, what do you think, how many people might place your communication style in one or more of these three categories?

On the other hand, we also find some people in our lives who inspire us to feel and perform better than ourselves. They focus on understanding others, listen more than they talk, and build and sustain relationships. They have lots of friends. Their communication blends a sense of rights and responsibilities.

Let’s call it effective communication style. It draws from a perception of the world as full of opportunities where people are family, friends, and colleagues– partners in mutual progress.

Now, how many people, do you think, would mark your communication style in this category?

A sure sign of improvement in communication effectiveness is the increasing number of people placing you in the category of an effective communicator. That happens when one’s communication style is attuned to the element of mutuality taking precedence over feeding one’s personal interests. When people adore not dread one.

Communication techniques certainly improve the quality of communication. Being an effective communicator, however, is about personal transformation. It’s about addressing personal demons to improve one’s world view.

Workshops that only emphasize upon learning and employing techniques to get people to do what one wants them to do would only make one’s aggressive, passive-aggressive, or manipulative tendencies, even more lethal.


Wali Muhammad

Wali imagines happy, creative, and productive workplaces. He designs and implements learning and development interventions to create them. Realizing today’s globally-connected, exceedingly multicultural, and millennials rich workforces and markets demand new approaches to organizational capacity building, Wali founded Behavioural Skills Company in 2015.

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