Summary of Impact Assessment: Collaborative Communication Training

This summary is from a May 2012 conference paper by Dr. Jane Connor with Dr. Dian Killian, Dr. Robert Wentworth, Martha Lasley, MBA. See a summary of that paper here.

Findings from Merck, Inc., supported by research conducted by the Center for Collaborative Communication, document significant benefits of listening skill training in the workplace.

In a two-part study jointly conducted by Merck Inc. and the Center for Collaborative Communication, significant results were found as a result of workplace communication training, including greater efficiency, effectiveness, motivation and team work. These preliminary findings were presented at the Psychologists for Social Responsibility 30th Anniversary Conference on July 13, 2012 in Washington, DC. A fuller, more detailed peer-reviewed report is in preparation.

The training method is called Collaborative Communication [CC], an integrated system of concepts and behaviors that foster high-quality relationships, support positive environments, and create tools for effective communication – especially in the service of achieving shared purposes. Rooted in a collaboration paradigm, and based on the Nonviolent Communication (NVC) model, CC creates effective climates for working together. As a set of tools that defuse tension, clear up conflict, and build trust and ease among colleagues, CC directly addresses top-tier organizational concerns.

The 2011-2012 study was led by Dr. Jane Connor, a Professor of Psychology at SUNY Binghamton, and Research Director at the Center for Collaborative Communication. Reflecting contemporary research in management, neuroscience, social sciences, and healthcare, this study highlights the critical importance of leveraging empathy skills for effective leadership, interpersonal relations, and healthy organizations. Dr. Connor stated, “We’ve found that by actively processing input in the moment, decisions are made faster, and they are revisited less often.” Since CC trains team members to work in ways that are open, inclusive and clear, more gets done in a day and everyone is happier about it.

The report focuses on one six-month training program, which included pre-training interviews, peer and executive coaching, and printed exercises. All training focused on developing participants’ facility in practical skills: clarity, connection, mutuality, and self-awareness. Data was collected three times over one year using qualitative methods. The report also reveals that the training cost reflects only a fraction of the value the company received from the training.


The success of any business depends on people working together to accomplish tasks that support the organization in achieving its purpose. As documented in this study, this is most likely to occur when the quality of relationships and communication between people is high and individuals are thriving.

People working together effectively can support the right tasks getting done, greater efficiency and higher quality. Directing resources to improving these foundational aspects of business functioning has the potential for major payoffs.

See more details from this report in the original May 2012 conference paper.

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