Why Communication Is Important

 In Psychotherapy, Toronto Therapist

do you communicate effectively for success? on toronto therapist blog

Why Communication is Important

Or Baseball’s Focus on Human Development & What that Can Mean for the Rest of Us

What is the connection between effective communication and baseball?

Read on to find out:

Gabe Kapler was a major league baseball player for 12 seasons, and according to MLB.com, “during which he said he developed emotional and mental ‘armor.’”

While not having a Hall of Fame-type career, he was known as a hard-working and hard-hitting player.  After a stint as a journalist and minor league manager, he was hired as the Director of Player Development for the Los Angeles Dodgers in late 2014.

With a lot of money (baseball boasted more than 9-billion dollar in revenues in 2014) within a high-stake highly competitive industry, professional sports teams are always looking for ways to have an edge over their competitors.

Kapler’s position appears to be crucial for the Dodgers to give them that winning edge by overseeing programs to develop and support the people in their organization to make winning ballplayers.

In recent years in baseball, there have been a great deal of emphasis on statistics and Sabermetrics, as dramatized in Brad Pitt’s film Moneyball.  There are those in the game who hold the belief that pure numbers and stats are the winning formula.  Then there are those who place importance on what’s considered more “old school”, where team chemistry and culture rule.

Even more recently, it also appears that there is now another tide turning in baseball toward the emphasis on the development of the individual.  Not just as players, but as more fully developed human beings.

That’s where the initiative that Kapler is spearheading comes in.  An article was posted on the Dodgers and MLB website discussing the vision and new direction of the Dodgers’ system where “Flexibility, communication part of philosophy management is embracing”.

Not surprisingly, Kapler demonstrated his strong verbal communication during a recent interview on the MLB Network.

“Communication is vital and critical to the success of our organization.” – Gabe Kapler

The first thing I noted about Kapler during his television appearance is his emphasis on “our men” as opposed to “our players” when referring to those in the Dodgers organization.

“(By focusing on communication,) we can develop men first, baseball players second.  We believe that confident, well-adjusted men make great baseball players and subsequently, great baseball players bonded together make great teams.  And great teams make winning championships.”

In professional sports where individuals who are literally at the top of their game are considered to be “pieces” and “assets” while in their prime, my personal opinion is that it is a significant step in the right direction for a major professional organization to place emphasis on the individual.

Further in the article posted on MLB.com, Kapler is quoted:

“One thing I realized quickly is that player development is a job about human development, masquerading as a job in baseball. It’s all about human development.”

So what’s with all this talk about baseball?  Or rather as Kapler so succinctly describes it, my focus is on the talk about human development.

As a therapist, I am encouraged to learn that there are large organizations and multi-billion dollar industries like baseball (and also technology, see CEO of Zappos.com Tony Hsieh’s book, Delivering Happiness) that are now recognizing and implementing the importance of developing communication skills and thought flexibility for success.

Because my work is in psychotherapy working with people to enhance and better their lives, relationships and experiences, I hold a belief that effective communication and flexibility in thought are two of the keys to achieving these goals.  Success not just in jobs, career and business, but also in meaningful relationships with friends, families and romantic partners and a well-balanced inner and outer life.

Many of us lose sight of ourselves as unique human individuals and may not be allowing ourselves to develop our true potential by considering ourselves to be a collection of assets of sorts, perhaps similarly to professional athletes but with a focus on ‘assets’ like “being good” or “being strong”.

There is also perhaps a lack of developing stronger communication skills when we may often speak to one another too casually by saying things like “Well, you know” or “It was kind of like that” and then not questioning or delving deeper into what is really being communicated.

Perhaps you, too, might find yourself not communicating clearly as to what you may be thinking and feeling at any given time.

As the Dodgers seems to have recognized, these are communication skills and the ability to think flexibly to be developed because a good many of us (ball players or not) are not given the opportunity to harness these skills.

In addition, I believe this initiative by the Dodgers also demonstrates the systemic need for a larger cultural commitment for the development of the individual.  But how many of us not in a professional organization like the LA Dodgers have access to such resources?

Ah yes, the question of resources.  On the individual level, it would likely be a personally driven initiative, if organizational, cultural or community initiatives are not accessible.

That said, it is possible to make a personal commitment to individual development in various ways.

  • Individual or group therapy
  • Coaching
  • Meetup Groups
  • Reading personal development sites and books
  • Challenging your friends and family to better communication
  • Committing to communicating and active listening with clarity and in detail
  • Take an interest in pursuing or participating in culture oriented organizations

As with professional athletics, repetitive practice is the key and the more and varied ways you engage in developing yourself and communicating personally, the more chance you have for winning your own personal championships.

“Our quality of life depends of the quality of our personal communication.” – Anthony Robbins


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