How to Use Effective Communication in the Workplace

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Effective communication skills are important to succeed in many aspects of life. Speaking, listening and writing in a way that people understand is essential in a wide range of jobs and communicating with confidence and influence can help you succeed at work. Learning ways to improve your communication skills can help you be a more influential speaker. In this article, we explore how to use more effective communication in the workplace, including how to develop better speaking, listening and presentation skills.
Related: 10 Effective Communication Skills for Career Success

How to use effective communication in the workplace

Learning how to use effective communication in the workplace can help you express your ideas clearly and confidently. Here are some ways you can work on your communication skills:

1. Become an active listener

Successful conversation is about listening and speaking because it's a two-way interaction. An active listener pays close attention to whoever is speaking. This encourages the speaker to give you more attention. Asking questions and suggesting ideas relevant to the topic keeps the conversation flowing.

2. Use body language

You may be giving out and receiving non-verbal signals when you interact with others. Making eye contact with someone while they're speaking shows you're paying attention. Nodding shows that you agree or understand them, while mirroring someone else's body language shows empathy with them. Consider your body language carefully to help you improve your communicating abilities.

3. Adapt your speaking style to the audience

It's important to adapt the way you speak to the situation you're in. Think about your audience and how best to communicate with them. For example, a teacher may speak to their class of five-year-olds differently than how they speak to their colleagues and other teachers in the staff room.

4. Think about your voice

How you speak is as important as what you're saying. When you speak, other people listen to your voice and tone. Consider your timing and pace, how loud you're speaking, your tone and your inflection. Choosing these carefully can help you show a certain message or mood.

4. Develop your emotional intelligence

Understanding and being able to empathise with others is a cornerstone of good communication. Developing empathy is essential to a good relationship. Similarly, recognising your own emotions and self-awareness is key to understanding and working well with others.

5. Ask for feedback

To show you're hearing the person who is speaking, practise asking open-ended follow-up questions. Asking questions shows that you have understood someone's message and is a good way of finding out more about a subject. Good listeners tend to ask questions because they draw information out of others, rather than just giving their own opinions.

6. Practise being friendly

A friendly approach encourages others to communicate with you. Traits like kindness and honesty inspire trust and understanding from others. Keeping an open mind and a positive attitude can help you build meaningful relationships with colleagues, clients and managers.

6. Develop a firm handshake

A firm and inviting handshake sends a message about who you are and can communicate credibility and confidence to others. Offer your right hand and try to have palm to palm contact with a firm grip while looking at the person you're shaking hands with. A good handshake is a chance to offer a warm and friendly greeting.

7. Choose the right moment

When you're speaking with a large group, wait for the best moment to share your thoughts or ideas. Introducing your ideas at the right time is just as important as the words you use. Wait until there's a moment of silence or for when the conversation relates directly to the point you want to make.

8. Validate the speaker

You might find yourself in a conversation or discussion in which you don't agree with the other participants. One way to validate the other person's feelings without agreeing with their ideas is to say, "That would also make me feel upset" or "I understand your frustration." This can help dissipate any tension and keep the conversation or discussion productive.

Related: 18 Good Leadership Qualities for Career Success

Why are good communication skills important?

We don't always think about it, but we use communication skills every day. Here are some reasons why strong communication is important in the workplace:

Increase career prospects

Excellent written and verbal communication skills are often a key requirement listed on job advertisements. Being able to communicate well, whether that is in verbal, written, non-verbal or visual formats, can improve your job prospects and increase your possibilities for promotion. Employers may look for people who can speak confidently and write well.

Build stronger relationships

Speaking and listening is how we get along with colleagues, customers, managers and supervisors. Strong communication skills help build good relationships with customers and service users. A good communicator is easier to work with and is a valuable team player.

Improve productivity

Effective communication helps professionals understand their roles and perform better at work, increasing productivity for the organisation. A manager's guidance can help the team save time and resources and to work more effectively. Good communication can help you feel comfortable and valued at work.

Related: Top 15 Presentation Skills and How to Improve Them

Tips for improving communication in the workplace

Whether speaking to colleagues or friends or planning work goals and projects, you can apply better communication to most workplace situations. These include:

When participating in an interview

It's easy to feel flustered and nervous in an interview. To appear more confident, try sitting up straight with your shoulders square. When you're listening to someone, make eye contact with them to show you're paying attention. Smiling at the beginning and the end of the interview helps you to look friendly and engaging. If your voice goes shaky or squeaky, try to be aware of your tone and speak slightly slower and more deeply than you would normally and articulate each syllable clearly.

Try to answer questions concisely and provide answers to the questions that are asked. You can avoid interrupting the interviewer by pausing before you start speaking so you know it's your turn to speak.

When managing a meeting

If the conversation drifts away from the meeting's agenda, you might choose to bring it back. Have a few phrases or sentence starters ready so you can redirect the conversation back to the topic you're trying to discuss. Consider using language such as, "Let's remember why we're here..." or "Yes, that's a good point, but let's refocus on..." If people are getting into a heated debate and becoming emotional, you may suggest taking a break. This is a chance for everyone to write down their thoughts and refocus on the aims of the meeting.

If you're worried about talking too much in a meeting, you might want to take a pause. Before you start talking again, it can be useful to take a breath, count to five and gather your thoughts. A five-second pause can help you reframe and refocus on what you want to say.

During public speaking events and presentations

Whether you're giving a team presentation or making a speech in public, feeling nervous about how you appear to others is very common. If your job requires regular public speaking engagements, consider taking a public speaking course or joining a club. Practising speaking in front of others helps you overcome nerves and express yourself better. Try to state your key point at the very beginning of the presentation and use the fewest number of words you can to put your message across. Brevity helps highlight the most important point of your comment.

Think about whether people can hear you at the back of the room. If you're speaking quickly because you're nervous, take a deep breath to help you slow down. When using a microphone, holding it further away from your mouth avoids the audience from hearing you breathing and swallowing.

When writing or communicating online

Written communication is as significant as verbal communication in the workplace. The ability to convey your written message clearly and effectively is vital. Poorly written communication can cause confusion and frustration. Concise and clear writing assists readers' understanding of reports, emails and presentations. It's important to ensure an email delivers information as quickly as possible with a subject line that grabs your readers' attention. Use clear and brief subject lines. If the email is to a co-worker, identify the project the email refers to in the subject line.

It's important to organise longer pieces of writing clearly. A well-structured report allows readers to find the information they need quickly and easily and to skip what they don't need. Headings and short paragraphs help make the text more readable.

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