Productive Communication involves thoughtfully engaging other people in building a safe and respectful flow of information; it includes listening with the intention of understanding another person in order to establish new ways of sharing information, working together, and/or finding solutions.

Underlying unresolved conflicts or the inability to clearly state needs and goals can undermine even the most forward thinking work environments. Stress, failure to complete projects, low morale and missed performance goals are heightened by communication barriers.

Productive Communication Training helps promote effective interactions between management and staff, staff and clients and within staff. Understanding and practicing the many aspects that lead to productive communication is the basis of this training. It is designed for any working groups of 8 people or more and includes lectures, interactive exercises and written materials. Topics covered include:

  • Communication Styles
  • Emotional Triggers
  • Effective Feedback
  • Conflict Resolution Skills
  • Non-defensive Communication
  • Listening Skills
  • Forming Healthy Boundaries
  • Collaboration in decision making

The pilot program for this training, developed by Barbara Olinger, was offered over 7 months, for 43 hours, with the K-8th Grade Staff at the SMMUSD Santa Monica Alternative School House. This included both workshops with the entire staff and smaller meetings with 2-3 teachers. The information/experience has been distilled into smaller modules for other groups. The training is offered in various ways — 6, 8, 10 or 12 hour modules. Barbara works with each specific group to define the most problematic issues and develop the modules accordingly.


“It was so powerful. I learned a lot about myself, our community, and how to better support my students. You created opportunities for us to work through issues that were coming up, bring clarity on how to deal with interactions among staff and helped me to grow personally.” 

— Sarah D.

“I really appreciated this training. It was so relevant to my day to day life, both personally and professionally. I felt inspired and motivated during sessions. I found the materials useful and easy to use as a reference. Thanks for a great year of personal and professional growth.” 

— Jen G.

“Overall, I thought the classes were informative and super valuable. I think our staff needed to be able to open the door to communication.”

— Orah G.

“I wasn’t able to communicate my feelings in a healthy way before. This experience has helped me both professionally and personally… My relationships have evolved and now I have experienced more healthy communications rather than arguments, etc.”

— Alex R.