PDC's Jennifer LeBaron on the importance of strong communications in the workplace – and in life

PDC’s Jennifer LeBaron on the importance of strong communications in the workplace – and in life


CIE’s Professional Development Center (UT PDC) offers a variety of business communication courses and programs designed to help professionals develop essential skills for writing effectively, speaking with confidence, resolving conflict and interacting with both internal and external stakeholders in a skillful, polished manner.

Instructor Jennifer LeBaron teaches UT PDC’s Communication Skills for Professionals Certificate Program. This program provides students with the practical tools and techniques they need to maximize their communication abilities so that both written and spoken communications are delivered with confidence, relevance and poise.

Jennifer answered our questions about the importance of business communications and what she enjoys about teaching, while providing an especially vivid example of how strong communications can save businesses and lives.

Why do you believe the Communication Skills for Professionals Certificate Program is beneficial to those who have enrolled or are thinking of enrolling?

Jennifer LeBaron: “In a nutshell, the ability to communicate well is one of the strongest predictors for success—in your personal as well as professional life. Good communication is the cornerstone of effective collaboration and of getting things done with and through people and teams. One of my favorite quotes is by John D. Rockefeller who once said, “I will pay more for the ability to deal with people than any other ability under the sun.” I like this quote because he recognized that business success relies on people - and one’s ability to influence, communicate and interact with them be it customer, colleague or direct report. If you can communicate well, you’re able to sell yourself, an idea or a product. And you’re able to create connection, understanding and trust between people, unite teams around a vision and have influence. You’re able to strengthen relationships. This is why effective communication has consistently been cited as one of the most important skills you can have as a leader and as a professional in the business world.”

What do you enjoy about teaching this program?

“Communication was my major. I’ve always had a passion for it. It’s the foundation for relationships in the workplace and in life. I love that anyone can improve their communication skills. It’s like building a muscle. If you exercise your muscle, it gets stronger—if you practice good communication skills, your communication abilities grow and get stronger as well. We can all be stronger. It boils down to developing awareness and then practicing where we need improvement the most. I love teaching this program because it’s a skill set that’s transferable to all areas of life, whenever and wherever you deal with people. In general, strong communication helps all relationships—professional and personal.

I also really enjoy feedback that I get. I recently heard from a student thanking me for the class. She said it was the most rewarding class she’d ever taken. Supporting the learning and growth in students is very rewarding to me.”

What would you say to someone who was considering enrolling in a communications course or certificate program at the Professional Development Center?

“I would encourage them to make that investment in themselves and in their careers. You want to keep growing as an effective communicator – especially in this fast-paced world. Most people don’t realize that the majority of failed projects fail, not because of technical or financial issues, but because of people issues—which essentially points to the inability to communicate in a way that strengthens relationships, instead of hurting them. Effective communication is also crucial because careful communications have not only saved relationships and projects, but lives. Take a look at Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol scare. Back in the ‘80s when people died because Tylenol bottles were tampered with, Johnson & Johnson communicated with the public immediately. They were proactive with communications to the public about the recall, the status of the products and their efforts to ensure safety. Their communication efforts went a long way in protecting the public and keeping others from dying, while at the same time protecting trust in the brand and the product’s market value. This may be an extreme example, but it paints a full picture of the importance of effective communication in business and how it can directly impact lives and relationships.”

For more information about upcoming communications courses or the Communication Skills for Professionals Certificate Program, please visit the Professional Development Center’s website or call 512-471-4633.