Barriers to Communication Skills Development?– Learners Willingness or Abilities?

” The greatest problems with…older learners occur with meaningless learning, complex learning, and the learning of new things that require reassessment of old learning. ” Merriam, S. & Caffarella, R. Learning in Adulthood.(1991)

Communication skills are often addressed in relation to abilities – the ability to listen, to accurately convey information, select the appropriate channel and to speak to others with clarity, respect and dignity.  As a presentation and communication coach I know at times their is a need for improvement in skills, but more often than not, the issue is not ability; it is willingness (attitude) to be open to feedback and to try new things .  At other times, it is true that adult learners must sometimes “unlearn” practices and habits they have been using for years. This factor is called the “curse of knowledge” by by adult learning experts such as Chris Argyris  Yet in the final analysis, people often have the skills or ability to listen, ask effective questions and share information; they simply choose not to be open to change (attitude). 

What are your ideas about facilitating learning and change with Adult Learners?


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