One of the great things about refreshing Velsoft’s courses is that I get to learn new skills while I’m working.

As a writer and former journalist, I think I’m good at asking questions in order to obtain information and then conveying it to others. This involves listening, of course.

But I find that when I’m not conducting an interview, and especially at home, I sometimes don’t employ the same active listening skills, often because I’m distracted by the list of tasks swirling around in my head — deciding what to cook for supper, doing a load of laundry before we run out of clean towels, finishing a scrapbook I’m making for a Christmas gift, checking in on my daughter who’s away at college, remembering to pick up my other daughter from work, typing the minutes from a hockey association meeting, checking email, we’re almost out of cat food — add that to the grocery list…

Ask my children and they will tell you that dear old mom frequently asks a question and then fails to listen to the answer, or hears the response but doesn’t retain the information. This often leads to the same question being asked again. “Mom! You just asked me that!” they say repeatedly.

While reviewing Velsoft’s Communication Strategies course, I picked up a few tips for becoming a better listener, such as: Make a decision to listen. Close your mind to clutter and noise.

I’m going to try this one tonight. We’ll see if my family notices a difference!

I also came across additional interesting information while reading through research for the update.

Several years ago, a report published by the National Institutes of Health noted that hospitals in the United States waste about $12 billion each year due to inefficient communication between care providers. About half of that total was due to an increase in length of stay.

The Mitchell Communications Group reports that miscommunication costs businesses in the U.S. and the United Kingdom about $26,000 per employee annually.

Other studies show that loss of revenue isn’t the only result of poor communication.

A survey found 86 per cent of employees and executives say a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication caused workplace failures.

A 2015 study by HerdWisdom found that 33 per cent of employees said a lack of open, honest communication has the most negative impact on employee morale.

And, according to Traction Teambuilding, ineffective communication can lead to additional employee absences, and often results in strained relationships, decreased productivity and employee turnover.

All of this points to the need for more effective communication within companies and organizations.

Communication Strategies is a two-day course that helps employees improve their skills in this area through learning about such things as assertiveness, communication styles and barriers to good communication, as well as to develop proficiencies in listening.

Take-aways for me: I can improve and so can everyone else.

What didn’t need a lot of tweaking is the Communication Strategies course itself. All of the sessions contain useful and relevant material that will lead to better success at work and at home. Kudos to the original writer!

See if you agree with me.