How to Change Your Life in Three Days

Some people have called the experience “the best three days” of their lives. Others have said it was “life changing.” Occasionally it has brought grown men to tears.

Believe it or not, what I’m describing are reactions to our Communications Skills Training course offered through Barry-Wehmiller University, our internal university founded in 2007 to help foster the personal growth and fulfillment of our team members. When we first launched BWU, it was suggested that we begin by teaching interpersonal communication skills. My initial reaction was “Why do we need to teach something so fundamentally basic? Didn’t we learn how to communicate in school? Do people really need to be taught how to listen?”

Little did we know the profound impact this three-day experience would have:

  • “This is an awakening on my part, from not thinking about what I do to an acute awareness of how I touch the lives of the people in my life from my family to every person in my life.”
  • “If communication is an intrinsic human quality, being a better communicator makes me a better person – for that I am profoundly thankful.”
  • “I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to attend this course. The very fact that Barry-Wehmiller allows me, encourages me, pays for me to participate in a class that takes me away from my regular job for three days so that I can improve my personal life and my relationships speaks volumes about the company.”

Unlike many corporate training experiences, the goal of the class is not to “get more out of” our team members, but rather to teach them the fundamentals of leadership, so they might positively impact the lives of others in their roles as leaders. Overwhelmingly, course graduates say they hadn’t realized how little they knew about listening vs. talking. For many, the realization that their personal relationships have been damaged by their inability to truly listen to what their loved ones are saying is troubling, but very encouraging. They immediately begin to listen actively—to hear not just the words but understand the meaning and feelings behind the words—and see amazing results. As they say, life changing!

Managers talk to their teams; leaders listen. Click To TweetInspirational leaders need to be able to listen and model and promote listening among those they aspire to lead. The only way people who come together can fully realize the potential of their collective and individual gifts and efforts is by being a caring/listening organization as this allows everyone to know they matter. Managers talk to their teams; leaders listen.

Today, approximately 45% of our almost 7,000 team members worldwide have completed Communication Skills Training. Often I am asked to “justify” the investment we make in this course. My response is simple: If three days has the power to change lives, how can you not justify it?

Truly Human Leadership is found throughout Barry-Wehmiller Companies, where Bob Chapman is Chairman and CEO. A $3+ billion global capital equipment and engineering consulting firm, Barry-Wehmiller’s 12,000 team members are united around a common belief: we can use the power of business to build a better world. Chapman explores that idea in his Wall Street Journal best-selling book, Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring For Your People Like Family, available from Penguin Random House.


  • Scott Zey says:

    I went through this class when I worked at one of Mr. Chapman’s companies. This class was not just for communication in the workplace but at home and in everyday life. The people centric environment was such a blessing. One thing to keep in mind is that this is a journey. Nothing changes overnight and nothing is perfect but what a great journey when you can travel a better path and with like minded co-workers and upper management.

  • Leah says:

    I truly appreciate these concepts and the philosophy of caring. My background is in direct sales with a company that taught similar leadership skills and I’ve been through communication training and LIFO and other such leadership and team building classes and exercises.
    I’m wondering though, is there a way to integrate these classes into a mainstream market for families and couples to participate in? Are you familiar with anything that does exist in that capacity?
    I often want to include my close friends and especially significant other in such a powerful learning experience but I can’t imagine there is much beyond support groups and couples therapy. Not that I don’t believe in those programs when they are absolutely necessary; it simply feels more constructive and well rounded to be taught about communication and listening as it pertains to a professional environment and have that information trickle down into personal relationships; gives it more value I think.
    I’m interested in this type of training outside of the work place but for the sake of communication prowess in all aspects of life.

    Thank you so much!

    • Leah, I’m thrilled to tell you that such a training does exist! My name is Maureen Schloskey, I work for Barry-Wehmiller, and I am the Project Leader for Our Community LISTENS; our outreach program that brings our 3-day communication skills training class to the outside world. Please visit our website for more information. Also, please e-mail me directly and I can give you even more information. Our classes are held regulary in Charlotte NC, Charleston SC, Aspen CO, and on occasion in a few other places around the country. I’d be happy to chat with you about this!

  • Robin says:

    Can you give me some info on the where and when for this 3 day class.

  • Richard Dvorak says:

    Mr. Chapman I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to take the communications skills class. It was a real eye opener for me. I truly enjoyed the class and have a new perspective of the people around me.

    I also like the cartoon that you have in this article about the class. I made an enlarged copy of this cartoon and placed it on the wall in my cubical as a reminder to use what I have learned.

    Thank you!

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