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Effective communication skills gap to widen in the workplace

Posted by Joanne on February 2, 2013 Comments Off

In the article “Is the Internet bad for us?” (The Star, Fri Dec 28 2012) Josh Tapper, the author, notes that:

  • CommunicationThe average Canadian spends more than 45 hours online each month. (ComScore, a global internet use tracker)
  • More the one-third of wired Canadians use internet-ready digital devices before getting out of bed in the morning, and nearly 50 per cent click away right before falling asleep. (Angus Reid/Vision Critical poll conducted for the Star)
  • In June 2012, Canadians sent nearly 270 million texts per day. In 2005, the monthly average was 4.1 million. (Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association)

Research also suggests that large amounts of time spent online results in a decrease in self-esteem, increase in stress and anxiety, decrease in attention span, decrease in how efficiently we multi-task, and a decrease in communication skills. The article goes on to suggest that the skills gap is even more pronounced among teenagers and young adults of the Gen Y generation.

Gen Y is broadly defined as those born in the 1980s and 1990s. While it is never a good idea to over-generalize for any generation, Gen Y bring many new skills to the workplace. These skills include being tech-savvy, socially connected (on-line), and collaborative, all of which are great skills to have in the workplace. But as more Gen Y enter the workplace, the communication skills gap widens. It is ironic that the on-line skills that are a strength seem to result in a skills gap when it comes to face-to-face interpersonal communications skills.

In Grown Up Digital: Gen-Y Implications for Organizations, Fonda D. Na’Desh writes that “Gen Y lacks communication skills.” She shares that participants in a study described Gen Y coworker’s communication styles or communication limitations as a negative characteristic, stating that Gen Y coworkers were not diplomatic in conversations, impatient with explanations and questions, needed to practice tact, were very outspoken, and were bluntly honest. It’s easy to see why there is a communication skills gap, especially with face-to-face communications, when this generation has grown up communicating by text, and online. There is no way that online interactions and texting allow the participants to adapt their communication style based on feedback received through tone of voice, eye contact, and body language.

Gen Y will comprise more than 40% of the U.S. workforce by 2020. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) There will be a huge wave of Gen Y in the workplace and the interpersonal communication skills gap will continue to widen.

Perhaps at some point we will all work virtually and face-to-face or verbal communication skills will not be necessary, and indeed, our brains will become rewired. But in the immediate future, effective interpersonal communications skills are essential for success. Thankfully, interpersonal communication skills can be learned, and improved through practice and education.

What are you doing in your workplace to ensure your Gen Y workers have the interpersonal communications skills necessary for success? Are you investing in the development of this essential skill for all your people in your workplace regardless of generation?

Photo Credit: Istock – Purchased for use on this site only


Royce & Associates offers an Effective Interpersonal Communications program and Generations at Work workshops to diminish the interpersonal communication skill gap. If your workplace would benefit from our programs, please contact us for a complimentary one-hour review of your learning and development needs. At that time, we will also share with you the key characteristics of effective communicators. In the meantime, please review our blog archive series on the interpersonal communication skills of active listening and meeting personal and practical needs.

Related blog posts:

Are you a good listener? Active listening skills 1/5

Are you a good listener? Active listening skills 2/5 (Attending behaviours)

Are you a good listener? Active listening skills 3/5 (Open-ended questions)

Are you a good listener? Active listening skills 4/5 (Paraphrasing)

Are you a good listener? Active listening skills 5/5

Generational communications preferences – Gen Y and Boomers

Meeting personal needs for effective communication

Meeting practical needs for effective communication

Effective interpersonal communications workshop


Bullying in the workplace – blog series

Posted by Joanne on November 15, 2012 Comments (2)

Table of Contents for the Bullying in the Workplace blog series.

Forty per cent of Canadians have experienced one or more acts of workplace bullying at least once a week for a period of six months during a study conducted by Jacqueline Power, an assistant professor of management at the University of Windsor’s Odette School of Business. (Globe & Mail, December 2011) Bullying in the workplace is often called the silent epidemic because people don’t report it and witnesses don’t speak up. Often the organization culture of the organization supports bullying behaviour especially in competitive or fast paced environments. Because of this, statistics could actually be much higher than 40% especially if you include people who have witnessed bullying and are impacted by it. Perhaps part of the problem comes from the fact that people don’t realize what constitutes bullying behaviour in the first place.

Check back for more posts in this series about “Bullying in the workplace.”

Is a high performing bully manager ever acceptable?

A profile of a workplace bully, P.S. I forgive you bully

Tips for handling bullying behaviour in the workplace

Bullying in the workplace – a legal perspective (Google+ Hangout Live on Air Broadcast – video)

HR must be leaders in stopping workplace bullying Guest post over at EOList.

Tips for Creating an Anti-Bullying Policy



Related posts

Workplace violence and harassment legislation – Bill 168 (Ontario) – Q & A

Bully or effective leader?

Do you lead like an DHB (Decent Human Being)? (My post about an incident that inspired me to write this series on Bullying in the Workplace)

Managing is not bullying (Stuart Rudner’s post further to our Google+ Hangout Live interview)

Getting Your Job Search Started

Posted by Joanne on November 24, 2011 Comments Off

People are often stuck in jobs that are not their dream job.  I get my fair share of calls from people I know wanting to make a change. I do what I can to offer some tips and in some cases, have been able to connect them with people in my network who end up hiring them.  Some of the tips come from my coaching program for outplacement and in transition clients.

Getting Your Job Search Started

Look at your LinkedIn (LI) profile. Is it complete? Does it give a clear picture of your work history, education, professional development and volunteer activities?  Do you need to expand it and add to it? Have you described your awesome experience and your accomplishments from past positions? 

Post a professional looking photo. Look at your picture with a critical eye.  What’s in the background? Does it give the right impression? Ask a senior colleague for their opinion.

Ask people who worked with you and know you well, to provide comments or testimonials of your work. Ask for your direct supervisors, colleagues, and co-workers to add testimonials. Don’t ask people who don’t know you well or weren’t directly involved with your work. It will put them in an awkward position of having to say “No,” or worse, ignoring your request. If they haven’t worked directly with you it would be difficult providing the testimonial you require.

Do some research.  Search and look at other LI profiles of people in roles you would like. Sign up for some of the groups that people in the career you aspire to secure, have joined. Search on LI for all those people you know and have worked with and send them an invite to connect.

Look at the job postings and see who you know in the industry and start connecting that way.  If a job is posted at XYZ company, you can do a quick search to see if any of your connections have contact with someone in that company.

If you see someone who might be able to help you and they you aren’t connected with them, look them up and call them. If you send them a LinkedIn request, tell them why you are asking to connect. Do not send them a invitation asking to connect because you are in the same “group” when, in fact, you are looking for help finding a job. People appreciate honesty and they will help you if they can. If they don’t accept your invitation they wouldn’t be much help anyway.  Do not send them an invite that states you are a friend when you haven’t even met. That is just plain irritating.

Many people advocate that you put a catchy statement that you are looking for a position in your “headline.”  Take a look at what others are doing on LI and let people know how they can reach you. 

Make sure that people in your network know that you are looking for work. All your past colleagues, supervisors, favourite customers, suppliers, friends, and relatives will want to help you find a job. I received a lovely message from a former colleague who was looking for a job.  He sent a very well written email to everyone telling us what he’s been up to, the credentials he had added to his professional development, and what type of job he was looking for.  And he ended by asking us to be on the lookout for him. That was very helpful. People can and will assist you with your job search if they know you are looking AND what you are looking for.

Then there is Twitter - but that’s another blog.

I hope these few tips will help you get started. Good luck. 

Best regards, Joanne Royce

P.S. If you are a company and need outplacement services, contact us. We can help your departing employees with our coaching program – Getting your Job Search Started. Here’s what one former outplacement client had to say after completing the program (part of a 2-page thank you letter) . 

“Thank you so very, very much, Joanne. Your course, your genuine friendly helpfulness, and your ability to improve my resume, LinkedIn profile, and interview performance, without a doubt gave me the confidence and self assurance I needed for a successful career search.”

Photo Source:  SXC -  Szorstki

Effective Interpersonal Communications Workshop

Posted by Joanne on November 9, 2011 Comments Off

Why are some people so effective in communicating with others?
How can improving communication skills build long term relationship?
Why doesn’t my team talk to me?

I facilitated A Royce & Associates Workshop on Effective Interpersonal Communication with a group of managers who wanted answers to these questions.  The two day program was held over a Friday and Saturday. I was a bit concerned that the participants might want to be somewhere else, especially on the weekend. There was no need to worry as this great group of managers jumped right into the workshop including participating in all the activities I had planned to reinforce learning. 

A Royce & Associates Workshop - Effective Communications

One of the most popular activities was The Experiential Listening Game.  The key learning from this activity was that through active listening the listener is helping the talker feel valued. When the talker feels valued communication opens up and flows freely, which is vital to solving issues and building relationships.  No one wants to make another person feel undervalued and not important, but that is what we do everytime we check our Smart Phone, PDA, change the subject, appear distracted, or interrupt.  When we don’t use active listening skills,we are sending the message to the other person – YOU ARE NOT IMPORTANT.  I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU. Not a great way to build a relationship or to work collaboratively with another person.

If you and your team want to learn how to improve your communications skills to reduce conflict, and increase collaboraton and customer service, contact us now  to book our Effective Communications Workshop. Our workshop can be customized to your workplace, your time frame, and your budget!

Here is what participants had to say:

  • On a sunny Saturday, I can’t think of a better trainer to be stuck inside with for the day.
  • I enjoyed the adjective game and acting out the phrases.
  • The listening game made me realize how important it is to really listen.
  • The variety of activities and switching it up, kept us thinking outside the box.
  • I was  able to relate the activities and learning to my work and life.

Best regards, Joanne Royce

Founder of Royce & Associates
a Human Resources and Training Solutions company
Creating Happy, Healthy and Productive Workplaces

Related Blog Posts:

Meeting Personal Needs for Effective Communications

Meeting Practical Needs for Effective Communications

Are you a good listener?  A Five Part Series

Generational Communication Preferences – Gen Y and Boomers


The Plasticine Rabbit – A Story of How Creativity Gets Crumpled

Posted by Joanne on February 10, 2011 Comments (2)

Children don’t have any restrictions when it comes to creativity. They play and create with little effort. What happens to crumple this effortless creativity?  The following story might explain.

When my daughter was in kindergarten, I volunteered to help in the classroom. One day, Mrs. Teacher asked the children to make a rabbit using plasticine. She didn’t provide any other instructions. They went to work and it was wonderful to see little rabbits springing up around the classroom. Everyone made three-dimensional tall rabbits, but my daughter did something different. She built a one-dimensional rabbit with incredible detail layered onto a flat circle for the head, another for the body and little flat ears and legs. Kind of like some art or story books you see where the characters are made out of plasticine flattened onto the page and then photographed. She was focused and working very hard on building her unique rabbit. Mrs. Teacher went around the room making positive comments about the tall rabbits, and then she came up to my daughter. I’m sure you might guess what comes next. My little girl stopped her work and smiled up at her teacher, expecting some kind of encouraging remark.  But instead, with hands on her hips and a frown on her face, Mrs. Teacher said, “You were supposed to make a tall rabbit, not a flat one.” All the pride and joy my daughter felt in creating her rabbit crumpled before my eyes. I gently told her, “I really like your rabbit, especially the little eyes, nose, and whiskers.” But the damage was done. My daughter was already furiously crumpling up her beautiful flat rabbit into a big tall lump of plasticine. I half expected her to toss the lump at her teacher, because I felt like doing that myself. So what happened?

Creativity is crumpled if we are quick to judge.
Creativity is crumpled when constraints get in the way.

How often in the workplace do we crumple creativity by confining problem solving and ideas into restrictive parameters? (Make a rabbit, but it has to be a three-dimensional, tall rabbit). Or worse, do we crumple creativity by expressing an opinion that something won’t work, is a stupid idea, or isn’t the way we do things around here?

What can we do about this? During the HRPA 2011 Conference, several speakers mentioned that the role of a manager when it comes to encouraging creativity is to be quiet and listen, get out of the way, and provide free time.

Many might say it isn’t possible to allow people “free” time to create, but Google has an 80/20 rule where engineers are expected to spend 20% of their week working on anything that interests them … with no parameters and no restrictions. Google believes people work better when they’re passionate about something and Google has benefited by 20% time with results like Gmail and Google News.

So the next time you hear or see someone doing something unique or outside conventional parameters stop and think very carefully about how you’ll approach them. What will you say? Will you crumple creativity or encourage it?  If you are interested in learning how to UN-crumple the plasticine rabbit and encourage creativity in your workplace, contact us!

Joanne Royce, Royce & Associates, Human Resources & Training Solutions ~ Creating Happy, Healthy, Productive Workplaces.

Generations At Work Workshop – Valuing Our Differences

Posted by Joanne on July 8, 2009 Comments Off

Are you noticing differences between the generations in your workplace?
Do you want to work in harmony but conflicts are on the rise?
Have you heard comments like these before?

That old dinosaur has been working here ever since the cave man!
The kid wants a promotion after six months on the job!
What’s the big deal about coming in a few minutes late?
I’m the boss … just do your job.


This is the first time in history with four generations
working together in the workplace.

We so often bring our own preconceived assumptions – the taken-for-granted notions of how something or someone should be – when viewing generational groups. When we approach others with our own filters and perspectives with a “my way or the highway” attitude we are missing an opportunity to really connect and learn from each other. Often we assume that others should know what we expect them to do, how we expect them to behave, and so forth, without any dialogue about it.

While identifying what’s important to each generational group, we must be careful not to put limiting labels on them. It is not so black and white. It is dangerous to over generalize and make assumptions such as ALL:

  • Traditionalists play by the rules,
  • Boomers are workaholics,
  • Gen X are concerned work/life balance, and
  • Gen Y are collaborative and curious.

However, it does help to appreciate the values and history of each group to understand how they might approach a situation or problem in the workplace and, indeed, what human resources practices will help motivate and engage each group.

You can enhance productivity and innovation in a generationally diverse workplace without banning social networking sites! We can start to build relationships, decrease conflict, increase creativity, and enhance productivity, when we throw away our own preconceived assumptions about a group and start to listen with an open mind. If you want to learn more, please to email or call for more information on our awesome workshop - Generations At Work – Valuing Our Differences.

Here’s what participants have to say!

  • Your activities got us thinking!
  • There was so much discussion and laughter in the room, it was hard to go home at the end of the day!
  • The activities really got the discussion going and drove home the point.
  • Knowledgeable instruction and the most participative workshop I’ve been to in a long time.

Best regards, Joanne Royce

Founder of Royce & Associates
a Human Resources and Training Solutions company
Creating Happy, Healthy and Productive Workplaces

Related Blog Posts

Social Notworking versus Social Networking

Generational Communication Preferences – Boomers and Gen Y

Generational Networking Preferences

A Royce & Associates Workshop -  Generations At Work – Valuing Our Differences

 Joanne Royce

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Use our insider tips on human resources, training, and interpersonal relationships to create your own happy, healthy, and productive workplace. We'll also comment on life in general and share info and highlights from books.

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