Effective ways to Improve your Communication Skills in the Workplace

Landscape shot of different countries in communication

According to the working hours study (2020), it’s not uncommon for people all over the world to spend thousands of hours a year at work! Of course there are outliers and exceptions, but for the most part, the data shows that we continue to spend up to 1/3 or more of our lives working. 

Take a moment to reflect on that.

This data exemplifies why it’s important for us to feel safe, supported, and valued at work – we spend a significant portion of our lives working.

Unfortunately, that’s not simple – nor is it easy.

Being human is a wonderful gift, and we get to explore the meaning of this gift in every area of our lives – including through our work. But challenge can come when we engage with other wonderful humans and are exposed to alternative (maybe not-so-comfortable), ways of thinking and being!

In these situations we generally have to formulate a decision or a plan as to how we handle these differences – do we incorporate or assimilate into our own approach and experience? Do we ignore them? Do we act on them?

Whatever we decide, it’s almost certain that communication will come into play.

At the heart of it all, lies a powerful truth: good communication can play a major role in how fulfilled we feel at work.

Does Becoming a Better Communicator Help Professional Success?

Will attempts to improve your communication skills serve you in your own professional success? 

We’ll look at the personal and professional impacts of this, and we’ll explore important communication skills, communication habits, verbal and non-verbal styles and more. 

We’ll also provide actionable next steps and some strategies to improve your communication.

Importance of Effective Communication in the Workplace

Language is one of the very foundational factors in thought and communication.

Communication as a concept can be thought of as a piece of music.

In this analogy;

  • Language would be the song,
  • The idea/ thought would be the instruments and singers,
  • The person playing the song would be the sharing/ sending the idea/ thought
  • The person hearing the song  would be the receiving the idea/ thought

When we consider this scenario, we can see just how many variables are involved when we share information, whether written or spoken.

1. The Benefits of Effective Workplace Communication

The importance of communication skills in the workplace (both verbal and nonverbal) can’t be understated.

These skills can help create a positive and collaborative work environment, which can in turn lead to increased productivity and efficiency. 

Strong conversational skills (as an example), promote better understanding and cooperation among colleagues, which is vital for teamwork and problem-solving. This includes the ability to be able to hold the human space together even ‘awkward’ moments!

How can you know whether you or your team need support to help improve the way you communicate?

There are some signals you can look for when thinking about this:

Thoughtful and  authentic communication should facilitate a clear and efficient exchange in sending and receiving information, ideas, and feedback, and should support collaboration.

This can establish strong relationships with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders, and it can promote both trust and understanding. 

Being in our workplaces together is all about relating with one another as human beings.

2. The Impact of Challenging Communication on Work Performance

Challenging communication in the workplace can also have a significant impact on work performance.

‘Challenging’ is not always a ‘negative’ thing!

Being able to have honest, open and robust conversations is essential to our optimal performance.

It’s when communication is unclear or ineffective, that it can lead to delays, and errors in tasks and projects. Without the ability to communicate effectively, miscommunication, confusion, and even conflict can arise.

This can result in decreased productivity, inefficiencies, and missed deadlines. Some interpersonal impacts can also arise, such as low morale, and a lack of trust among team members.

By improving communication skills, we can improve our ability to express ourselves, enhance our professional relationships, boost productivity, and create a positive and supportive work environment.

Improve Communication Skills: Three Types of Communication

There are three core communication types that we’ve looked at below. They are verbal communication, nonverbal communication, and written communication.

Verbal Communication Skills

Clear and concise verbal communication can help us to quickly get across complex concepts, clarify misinterpretations, and brainstorm collaboratively.

One effective way to communicate clearly and show a desire to understand, is to ensure that we aren’t just hearing the speaker, but actually listening actively.

1. Active Listening

Active listening involves giving full attention to the speaker, a genuine desire to understand them (listen to understand, not just to respond), and providing appropriate feedback – whether in the form of questions or confirmation.

Great active listeners avoid interrupting speech, and do what they need to in order to understand the importance of a message. Some active listeners go as far as taking notes when a person is saying something they consider to be especially important. 

Active listening helps to foster trust and build strong relationships in the workplace, as it allows for clarification, encourages improvement, and ensures mutual understanding. If you’re experiencing issues in these areas, practice active listening!

From working with over forty different workplace teams across different organisations and functions, the heart of the matter is, as human beings, we all want to be heard and seen.

2. Effective Speaking and Clarity

Effective speaking is another crucial aspect of improving communication skills in the workplace. It involves articulating thoughts and ideas clearly and concisely, ensuring that your message is easily understood by others.

If you think about the musical analogy from earlier, effective speaking is about ensuring that the song you’re playing for someone else is clear, and sits at the right volume to reach them, without being too loud.

To enhance your speaking skills, consider the following tips:

  • Practice speaking in a clear and confident manner – speaking out loud is not the same as using your inner voice. What you have to share is uniquely invaluable! Back yourself and know it’s a gift to others to hear of your thoughts. 
  • Use appropriate tone of voice and volume for different situations. 
  • Take pauses to allow for comprehension, avoid talking too quickly, and make eye contact to connect more deeply.
  • Be fully present and use simple and concise language to convey your message effectively.
  • Avoid jargon and technical terms unless necessary, and provide explanations when needed.
  • Use visual aids or gestures to support your verbal communication, where appropriate (such as public speaking).
  • Pay attention to non-verbal cues and trust your intuition (i.e. your gut feel), to gauge understanding and adjust your communication accordingly.
  • Be self-compassionate to YOU as you step out of your comfort-zone to try new ways of communicating with those around you! 

By focusing on the above points you’ll be improving your ability to communicate effectively. 

The heart of the matter is that effective speaking and clarity is a dance between ourselves and those around us. 

It is a live, in-the-moment interaction which can hold many human nuances. Being curious and willing to continue to learn and grow as we ‘dance’ together is a key to effective communication.

Non-Verbal Communication

Non-Verbal Communication encompasses body language, facial expressions, and the use of visual aids and gestures.. as well as those intuitive senses / gut feels you might have. 

Non-verbal language skills are important because they can help convey emotions and context in a way that words alone cannot express. 

You can also pick up on clues about other’s emotions and what’s presenting in the group dynamic in ways that can remove obstacles, improve relationships and build understanding together. 

For example, in a job interview, a candidate’s body language can support their claims of confidence and suitability for the role. 

Mastering non-verbal communication can help create a positive and impactful impression in the minds of those that you speak to.

1. Body Language and Facial Expressions

Body language refers to the way we use our body movements, gestures, and postures to convey our intentions and emotions.

Facial expression, on the other hand, involve the use of our facial muscles to express various emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger, or surprise.

These cues can greatly enhance workplace communication by adding depth and nuance to our interactions. It is important to be mindful, not just of our spoken words, but also of our body language. 

This mindfulness helps us stay aware of the message that we’re sending and whether our body language is supporting that message in an authentic way. 

The heart of the matter is that our own non-verbal communication can sometimes be unseen by ourselves! It’s like the analogy shared by David C. Baker; 

“You can’t read the label from inside the jar.”

We may make a ‘funny’ face without even knowing it. 

This is totally natural as the human beings we are! Let’s give ourselves permission to mindfully notice our own non-verbal communication and that of others so we can support the outcomes we desire together.

2. Use of Visual Aids and Gestures

Utilising visual aids is one of the popular ways you can improve your communication in the workplace, particularly when communicating to a group of people at once.

Since many people are visual learners, things like charts, graphs, and diagrams, can help break down complex information in a clear and concise manner. Gestures such as hand movements or pointing, are great for adding emphasis and clarity to our verbal messages, whether the context is a one-to-one chat, or a group presentation. 

By incorporating visual aids and using gestures, we can enhance our communication abilities and ensure that our messages are easily understood by others. 

The heart of the matter is that we all have different preferences for how we make-sense of what we hear and see. Sharing our message in various forms to cater for different preferences can help build collective momentum for deeper exploration of the topics shared.

Written Communication

Written communication types are essential in the workplace as they allow us to convey our thoughts and ideas in a clear and effective manner.

Whether it’s through email, memos, or reports, strong writing skills are crucial for maintaining professionalism and ensuring that information is accurately communicated.

For example, imagine a scenario where you need to send an important email to a client or colleague. If you lack the skill or experience, your message may be misunderstood or unclear, potentially leading to miscommunication and negative outcomes.

Mastering the skills to get your message across, can help you avoid misunderstandings and effectively convey your message, leading to stronger professional relationships and improved overall communication within the workplace.

1. Write Clear and Concise Emails

When it comes to written communication in the workplace, one of the most overlooked skills, is sending an email that is clear, directed, and focused on action.

Email communication involves conveying your message in a direct and succinct manner, without unnecessary jargon or lengthy explanations. Emails that are both concise and clear, are easier to read and understand, ensuring that the message is effectively communicated to the recipient. To improve your email communication skills, consider the following tips:

  1. Start with a clear subject line: Make a point of writing a subject line that accurately summarises the purpose of the email. This helps the recipient quickly understand the content and urgency of the message.
  2. Use short paragraphs and bullet points: Break down your email into short paragraphs and use bullet points to organise information. This makes it easier for the reader to scan and comprehend your message (more on formatting below).
  3. Get to the point: Avoid unnecessary introductions or lengthy explanations (these can actually make comprehension even more difficult). Start your email with a direct statement or request to capture the recipient’s attention and make your purpose clear.
  4. Use simple language: Choose your words carefully and use plain language to ensure clarity. Avoid using technical terms or industry-specific jargon that may confuse the reader.
  5. Proofread and edit: Before sending your email, take the time to proofread and edit for any grammatical or spelling errors. A well-written and error-free email demonstrates professionalism and attention to detail.
  6. Take an intentional pause if you need: Sometimes in the busy-ness of our work schedules, we might feel pressured to get something written and sent… While, sometimes, the most effective communication might come from an intentional pause to collect your thoughts or to process more deeply, before hitting send on your reply. These intentional pauses can end up saving us a lot of time down the track through minimising misunderstandings or moments of lack of shared clarity. 

By following these tips, you can work to ensure that your emails are clear, concise, and effective in conveying your message to your audience.

The heart of the matter is that emails are a channel of communication we share in our human interactions.

While the content can be clear and concise, remember it is another human being/s that will be receiving this message from you. Don’t be afraid to add your own personal touch to the email to help build that person-to-person connection.

2. Grammar and Formatting

The idea here is quite clear already, so we won’t spend too long looking at this. 

Proper grammar, formatting (and even the ability to paraphrase appropriately!), play a crucial role in using written word for great communication.

Using correct grammar not only ensures clarity but also reflects professionalism. It demonstrates attention to detail and work ethic, and it enhances the effectiveness of written word as a vehicle for great communication.

Developing Interpersonal Skills

Developing interpersonal skills may seem a little left-of field here, but it is actually essential in the workplace! And it is a continuous practice of learning and growth on the path of mastery. 

Interpersonal skills enable individuals to build strong relationships, understand others’ perspectives, and effectively collaborate with colleagues.

For example, in a scenario where there is a conflict between team members, having strong interpersonal skills can help individuals navigate the situation, resolve conflicts, and maintain a positive work environment.

By investing in developing interpersonal skills, you’re likely to see an improvement in all your relationships – not just in the workplace!

1. Building Empathy and Emotional Intelligence

Building your own self-awareness, when it comes to empathy and emotional intelligence, is incredibly powerful for any aspect of your life that involves people.

When attempting to become better communicators, there are things we can do to develop our own capacity for empathy. This can include: 

  • Carrying a positive attitude into interactions,
  • Actively listening,
  • Practicing placing ourselves in others’ shoes, with a desire to understand their emotions and perspectives,
  • Noticing what is arising within ourselves in the present moment.

Emotional intelligence looks at our own ability to recognise and engage with emotion, both in ourselves and in others. By developing these skills, we can foster stronger relationships, better understand our colleagues’ needs, and hear/ listen without prioritising our response or our own needs above others.

The heart of the matter is that as human beings are sense-making through both thinking and feeling! Being aware of and working consciously with our emotional intelligence as important sources of data in our workplaces is a key to unlocking our untapped potential. 

2. Conflict Resolution and Negotiation Skills

Conflict resolution and negotiation skills are essential in any workplace environment.

Conflicts or differences in perspectives can provide great insight and hold important course redirections in our workplace efforts. 

Managing conflicts and finding solutions that are mutually beneficial, can be one of the hardest things to do in a work environment.

In many of these situations, we may often feel that we’re dealing with defensiveness and a lack of “buy-in”. The reality is often much deeper than that.

Conflict resolution and negotiation both draw on active listening, effective communication, and problem-solving. 

When practicing these skills, remind yourself that you’re not just dealing with different opinions, but different people, and that the lived experience of each person is just as important and as valuable as your own.

Flowing from this place of respect and appreciation will greatly support attempts at finding compromises that meet the need without hurting one another.

Communication is the key when it comes to navigating the challenge of conflict resolution and negotiation. 

The heart of the matter is that when we can focus on the shared intention of what really matters and what we are wanting to achieve together, we can find ways of embracing differences as broadening our capacities to see, understand, and do our best work together.

Importance of Communication: Continuous Improvement and Practice

Continuous improvement and practice are crucial in honing and maintaining effective communication skills in the workplace.

By continuously seeking feedback and constructive assessment, individuals can identify areas for improvement and work towards refining their communication abilities. Additionally, utilising professional development resources such as communication coaching, can also provide valuable guidance and support.

Consistent practice in real-life scenarios, allows individuals to apply their learning and develop confidence. With continuous improvement and practice, individuals can excel in their roles as effective communicators.

1. Seeking Feedback and Constructive Assessment

Seeking feedback and constructive criticism is essential for continuous improvement in communication skills.

People in positions that involve the management of others, can seek feedback from colleagues, supervisors, and subordinates.

By welcoming constructive criticism, they can identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments. Additionally, participating in feedback sessions or seeking the guidance of a communications coach can provide valuable insights and strategies for enhancing communication effectiveness.

The heart of the matter is that we all have our blindspots! It is part of being human. And we may not know how others are experiencing our communication. Honest and open feedback enables us to expand our potential – not only in the work outcomes but also in the relationships we enjoy.

2. Utilising Professional Development Resources

Utilising professional development resources is another valuable way to improve communication skills in the workplace. 

People in management or leadership roles might find communication coaching particularly helpful.

This kind of support can provide structured learning opportunities to develop and refine your communication approach. Additionally, reading books or articles on communication, attending seminars or webinars, and participating in online courses can also help broaden knowledge and acquire new strategies for effective communication.

In conclusion, improving your ability to communicate will not just support your experience at work, but will also support your experience of life! 

Like anything worth doing, improvement in this area takes consistent practice and guidance.

If you or your team require professional expertise or coaching for more effective communication, reach out to me today for a no-obligation call.

May you have a magical workday, every day!

Article by

Vee Haslam

I Help You Connect to the Heart of the Matter During Times of Change to Obtain Peak Performance.

Share this


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *