Sunday, June 9, 2019

Importance of Communication Skills Redux

In last week’s post, I wrote that a common theme – largely based upon industry feedback – at a recent conference I attended was the importance of having and teaching good communication skills to our students.  Given their training, professors teaching law are particularly well-positioned to promote this objective.  Today, I happened across a relatively recent article on (via LinkedIn) reinforcing this theme, and wanted to share it with readers.  In sum, Tommy Mello’s LinkedIn CEO says There’s 1 Professional Skill You Should Pick Up to Boost Your Resume (It Has Nothing to Do with Tech) shares that Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, argues that “soft skills, including oral communication, team-building, and leadership skills” are what employers are most looking for these days.  Mello provides an interesting list of questions he asks “hiring managers to ask when conducting interviews,” which are designed to test: willingness to learn, commitment, communication, humility and self-awareness, and task management.  It’s a quick, worthwhile read that I think is also both an opportunity for reflection on how the importance of communication skills are incorporated into our courses and a bit of a counterbalance to concerns about increasing job automation.

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Thanks for the link, Colleen. How do you propose teaching these soft skills in a business law class? I do a fair bit of student coaching and career advising during office hours, but I have mostly stayed away from direct feedback on communication skills in class (mainly to avoid embarrassing the student...I have occasionally coached a student on proper participation shortly after a class period has finished). Unlike in business law, communication skills are a clear part of my negotiations class, and the students split into small groups every class, so it is much easier to address in that setting.

Posted by: Haskell Murray | Jun 10, 2019 1:35:44 PM

Thanks for your comment, Haskell! I actually incorporate a handful of negotiation exercises relevant to material we are covering into my business law courses. I plan to blog about that in an upcoming post. As you note, negotiation exercises are great for teaching communication skills! I also sometimes have groups of students present a certain topic to the class, and I fill in (and at times tweak) their presentations. These groups will have to stand in front of the classroom, which requires them to work on presentation skills. I then provide feedback to the group as a whole. I required students in my MBA Business Ethics/Law class to write a sizable paper.

Posted by: Colleen Baker | Jun 10, 2019 2:23:13 PM

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