Music to Stimulate Conversation Among Work Groups

by | Apr 11, 2024 | Leadership, Management and Leadership, Organizational Development | 0 comments

Can music help foster communication in your organization?

As some may know, I teach marketing management as an adjunct professor at Trinity Christian College. As the final project, the students work in four teams to develop a marketing plan, which they will present to the group.

While working in class, I observed very little interaction among the different work groups. In fact, the room fell eerily and uncomfortably silent. Even when I floated by each station to check on progress, the students did not engage in conversation with each other.

Then, I turned on my Pandora subscription and began playing an instrumental jazz radio channel. Before the end of the first song, the energy in the room changed. Conversations began, and the room filled with both John Coltrane solos and chatter about marketing.

Science supports this phenomenon. Background music, especially within a major tonality, can improve communication satisfaction and productivity (Blood & Ferriss, 1993). Furthermore, combining music and arranging indoor spaces to facilitate social interaction can positively impact emotions, as observed in a study with college students (Jiang et al., 2021). Perhaps this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise given that restaurants and retail settings (Garlin & Owen, 2006) and sports venues (Honeycutt, 2023) often use background music for positive affect.

While it may not work in all cases, maybe consider leveraging music to stimulate social interactions at work for more Harmonious Workplaces.


Blood, D., & Ferriss, S. (1993). Effects of Background Music on Anxiety, Satisfaction with Communication, and Productivity. Psychological Reports, 72, 171 – 177.

Garlin, F., & Owen, K. (2006). Setting the tone with the tune: A meta-analytic review of the effects of background music in retail settings. Journal of Business Research, 59, 755-764.

Honeycutt, J. (2023). Invited commentary on using music intervention and imagined interaction to deal with aggression and conflict. Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research.

Jiang, J., Meng, Q., & Ji, J. (2021). Combining Music and Indoor Spatial Factors Helps to Improve College Students’ Emotion During Communication. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 703908.

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