The importance of communication skills cannot be underestimated. This post reviews 10 scientific studies in varied areas of life. Each study underscores how important communication skills are and highlights the surprising benefits of using communication skills effectively.
My neighbor’s son just started his first year of college with a required course: Interpersonal Communication Skills 101.
“Yeah, I’m sure it’s some b.s. class, but I have to take it, so…..whatever. What does it even mean?” he remarked.
And that’s a common view of communication skills education. What student thinks it’s important enough to take seriously? I’m not convinced a majority of people give interpersonal skills the level of priority they deserve.
In modern corporations, communication skills are considered “soft science” which is not far removed from “pseudoscientific waste of time” given the lackluster attitude with which many employees approach the topic.
To be fair, a lot of soft skills education is less than inspiring. When you consider the actual importance communication skills as evidenced by the wildly convincing studies below, you’d think mainstream educators would move beyond active listening and ‘I messages’.
We’ve got to raise the bar on communication skills education, even before college, and make real, effective communication more than just an emoji! Here are 10 solid reasons why the importance of communication skills is so valuable:
According to a recent study, the number one cause for divorce is communication issues. John Gottman, who has conducted studies on relationships for over forty years at the University of Washington, came to the conclusion that the thing people struggle with the very most is effectively communicating with one another in a relationship.
This validated information suggests that those who CAN effectively communicate in a relationship see more success and likely have a stronger connection to their spouse, which can be defined as having an overall better marriage.
His research suggests that there are four types of communication problems that can lead to divorce: criticism of partners’ personality, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling (the refusal to communicate at all). The importance of communication skills is essential in a healthy relationship.
Poor Communication Is The #1 Reason Couples Split Up: Survey | Huffington Post. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/20/divorce-causes-_n_4304466.html
Research FAQs – The Gottman Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.gottman.com/about/research/faq/
According to a survey conducted in 1988 by D.B. Curtis and presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association says that the most valued skills in the “contemporary job market” are communication skills. The study surveyed 1,000 personnel managers and came to this conclusion.
This information suggests that the best skill we can invest in within ourselves is strong communication. If we can communicate extremely effectively, we will surely be able to land the job that will earn us the greatest amount of money.
Why Communication is Important: A Rationale for the Centrality of the Study of Communication. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.natcom.org/uploadedFiles/More_Scholarly_Resources/Chairs_Corner/Making_the_Case_for_and_Advancing_the_Discipline/PDF-ATD-JACA-Why_Communication_is_Important_%20Rationale_for_Centrality_of_the_Study_of_Communication.pdf
According to an article titled “Self-Esteem and Effective Communication Skills” published by Live Strong, studies suggest that people who are good communicators also tend to be mainly extroverted. The article says a 2001 study published in the “Journal of Research in Personality says,” extroverted people tend to have higher self-esteem. Extraversion can make it easier for people to approach strangers, talk in large groups and appear friendly. This can cause others to perceive extroverts more positively, potentially further boosting their self-esteem. People with low self-esteem may be anxious about talking to unfamiliar people and more uncomfortable in group settings.
Self-Esteem & Effective Communication Skills | LIVESTRONG.COM. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/187227-self-esteem-effective-communication-skills/
A study conducted by Pearson, J. C. & Sessler, C. J. in May of 1991 titled “Family communication and health: Maintaining marital satisfaction and quality of life” which was presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Communication Association in Chicago says communicating role expectations is related to family satisfaction. Supporting, disclosing, negotiating, positively distorting, communicating needs, and demonstrating the understanding of other family members are just a few of the communicative behaviors crucial in creating a family which is healthy and happy.
ERIC – Family Communication and Health: Maintaining Marital Satisfaction and Quality of Life., 1991-May-27. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED335722
The International Journal of Business Communication published a study in which 354 managers were asked to rank incompetencies when hiring new college graduates. The study findings suggest that the most desirable quality in a new hire is effective communication skills. Unfortunately, it is also the number one incompetency on the list, followed by lack of problem-solving skills and self-motivation.
A Managerial Perspective: Oral Communication Competency Is Most Important for Business Students in the Workplace Jeanne D. Maes. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://job.sagepub.com/content/34/1/67.abstract
A study published by the American Journal of Small Business, titled “Perception of Entrepreneurial Success Characteristics” asked small business owners and bank loan representatives about what they believed were the key factors in successful entrepreneurship. The top-ranked characteristics among these people were oral communication and listening.
Perception of Entrepreneurial Success Characteristics. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://csfstudy.com/uploads/Montagno_-_Perception_of_Entrenpreneurial_Success__1986_.pdf
According to a paper presented at the Annual International Conference of the National Community College Chair Academy, Phoenix, AZ, The ability to communicate and accomplish goals, or the “voice” element, is taught through exercises developing both interpersonal and intergroup communication skills and utilizes mentoring and role models to help student development.
ERIC – Values, Vision, Voice, Virtue: The 4 “V” Model for Ethical Leadership Development., 1996-Feb. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED394542
This study suggests that education of communication in the media can help people to stop and consider the sources, and evaluate the visual artistic messages being portrayed by the media source. According to the study findings, the second section [of this paper] explains how understanding society and institutions will help the individual viewer to create the necessary standards for the recognition and evaluation of moving images, particularly television images. The final section stresses the importance of the viewers’ knowledge of the technical and artistic aspects of any given visual communication medium in the creation of the criteria for evaluating its messages.
ERIC – Cognitive Factors in the Study of Visual Images: Moving Image Recognition Standards., 1992-Oct. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED352936
Students should learn to see reading and writing as vital support for the most direct way that citizens can express themselves and participate in public life—as public speakers. Public speaking was the primary medium for participation in public affairs at the birth of democracy in ancient Athens, and even today public dialogue or argument is, for most citizens, the chief means of participating in public life, according to a study, published by ERIC Digests titled “The Connections between Language Education and Civic Education”.
The Connections between Language Education and Civic Education. ERIC Digest. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ericdigests.org/1992-2/civic.htm
An article titled “Parent-Child Communication Programs” published by Advocates for Youth says studies show that young people who feel a lack of parental warmth, love or care were more likely to report emotional distress, school problems, drug use and sexual risk behaviors [3,4]. Young people also report less depression and anxiety and more self-reliance and self-esteem than other peers who discuss sex with their parents.
Schuster, M. M., Eastman, K. P., & Corona, R. P. Talking to Parents, Healthy Teens: A Worksite-based Program for Parents to Promote Adolescent Sexual Health. Public Health Research, Practice & Policy, 2006. Retrieved from http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/parent-child-communication-programs
All these studies demonstrate the importance of communication skills in a variety of situations. Communication skills can be learned in a number of ways. One very effective way is through the use of Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP). NLP was developed to understand how we communicate and to develop intentional ways to be effective at communicating and connecting with others.
If you see the importance of communication skills and are interested in learning more about how NLP improves communication skills, please read this article this article:
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