15 Ways on How To Communicate Effectively at the Workplace

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 August 2021

Understanding the art of effective communication is crucial for both managers and employees. Effective communication can reduce misunderstandings and promote better collaboration and teamwork. Knowing how to communicate effectively can improve your leadership skills and professionalism. In this article, we define communication skills, explore how to communicate effectively and provide tips for improving communication skills.

What are communication skills?

Communication skills allow individuals to receive and transfer information at work and in other social environments. These skills include active listening, writing, reading and speaking. Communication skills are essential in the workplace, as they aid interaction with colleagues, supervisors and clients. Developing your communication skills can improve your relationships, increase your ability to network and open up more leadership opportunities.

Related: How To Improve Communication Skills (With Definition and Examples)

How to communicate effectively

Here are 15 ways for how to communicate effectively at work:

1. Emails

Emails have become an indispensable part of business communication in recent years. They are easily accessible, cheap and permit sending messages to many employees simultaneously. When writing emails, it's best to use a clear subject line that summarises the content for recipients. Use concise language in email messages and always aim for less than four paragraphs to keep things brief.

2. Letters

Some may consider letters old-fashioned, but they are still effective for business communication. Unlike an email, a letter is unlikely to get lost in the junk folder or land in a place where the recipient would never read it. The major downside of using letters to communicate is the slow delivery rate. Your letter may take a few days to reach its location, whereas an electronic mail takes seconds to deliver.

3. Presentations

A presentation is a speech given to a small group of people. Presentations are useful for presenting new information to employees, imparting instruction and discussing plans for the future. Good practices for giving presentations include employing visual aids, asking for feedback and adopting proper vocal pitch. You can also include anecdotes, humour and elements of storytelling in presentations to make them engaging.

Related: How To Improve Your Public Speaking Skills (With Tips)

4. Employee newsletters

Employee newsletters are usually organisational information and are circulated solely among a company's staff. Companies use these documents to keep employees updated about recent changes, announce upcoming events and share general information about company activities. Newsletters can also serve as a platform for thought leaders in the organisation to share their opinion.

5. Social media

Social media platforms provide excellent opportunities to keep communication in your company seamless. While you can limit workplace communication on social networks to casual topics, you can create private groups to share confidential information. You can even use collaborative tools for this purpose.

6. Personal discussions

Personal discussions are excellent tools for interacting with colleagues and team members. Because they are private, people may be more relaxed and willing to share information with you. For example, you may have a team member whose behaviour is affecting team morale. Instead of discussing their failings in the presence of other teammates, you can have a one-on-one discussion with them and settle things amicably.

7. Group meetings

Group meetings are crucial for promoting collaboration and teamwork in an organisation. The ideal group meeting can allow members to share their viewpoints, communicate their grievances and contribute ideas. As a team leader, you can use open meetings to get group members to interact with another. You can also discuss plans and ideas with team members and seek their feedback on issues.

8. Non-verbal cues

Nonverbal communication is the use of gestures, tone, facial expressions and body movements to pass information. Nonverbal communication is ideal in situations where you don't want to state information explicitly. Here are some nonverbal cues for communicating effectively with colleagues:

Related: 4 Types of Communication

Facial expressions

Facial expressions are easily recognisable and understood, making them effective communication tools. Your facial expressions can convey emotions, such as joy, anger, frustration and impatience. For example, frowning at a colleague who's dominating meeting conversations may be more effective than yelling at them to stop talking. Unlike the latter option, a facial expression is less likely to distract others, provoke defensive responses or cause conflict.

Gestures

Gestures are another example of nonverbal communication that you can use to your advantage. You can gesture to give directions, show agreement or pass information to other colleagues at work. Examples of gestures to use in communication include:

  • Pointing at a watch to tell a speaker to round off their speech

  • Giving a thumbs-up sign to show approval

  • Shaking your head sideways to show disapproval

  • Nodding your head to show assent

Paralanguage

Paralanguage refers to the non-vocal aspects of communication, like tone, pitch and volume. These elements can influence the meaning of statements and allow you to share certain information subtly. For example, your tone of voice can communicate your disapproval of a proposal without you saying anything. That may come in handy situations where you don't want to disagree with a colleague in public.

9. Memos

A memo is an internal communication intended for a company's internal audience. Managers use memos to communicate policy changes, reemphasise existing regulations and share noteworthy information with employees.

Memos are like newsletters in their structure and purpose, although they are getting replaced with emails. Sending periodic memos is still a good way of communicating important information with employees in an organisation.

10. Text messages

Some companies add employees' names to a directory for easy access. That way, the company can send out bulk text messages to communicate information rapidly with staff. If you lead a team, instant messaging may be an excellent alternative to social networks for reaching out to team members. A text message is likely to get seen earlier and is less intrusive than a phone call.

11. Slide decks

Slide decks are visual communication tools. They are used for clarifying information presented verbally. Slide decks are popular among employees as they make presentations easier and more effective.

12. Instructional videos

An instructional video shows how to perform a task, explains a process or imparts knowledge. Instructional videos are used to teach skills to employees and prepare them for their core responsibilities. As a manager, instructional videos can help you share information about work processes with new hires, saving you time and energy. That is better than giving long-winded tutorials that may induce fatigue in employees.

13. Charts

Visual communication tools like charts are excellent choices for conveying information in the workplace. Charts present details engagingly. Besides that, they make it easier to understand complex information.

14. Reports

A work report is a document used to share information about a topic related to your work. For example, you write a report to discuss progress on a current project. You can also make a report to give observations about a workplace issue.

15. Performance reviews

Performance reviews allow you to provide an honest assessment of a colleague or superior's performance. Good performance reviews let employees communicate their views anonymously and effectively. Such reviews can also result in more open communication lines.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definition and Examples

Tips for improving communication skills

Communication skills are important in the workplace, as they improve your relationships with colleagues, clients and managers. You can improve your communication skills by following these tips:

Listen to the other person

The first rule of effective communication is to listen before speaking. When you truly understand what the other person is trying to say, communication becomes easier. Developing your active listening skills can transform you into a better manager, supervisor and teammate.

Be straightforward

Being able to address your thoughts may earn you the respect of your colleagues. Direct statements are highly preferred in companies, as it creates less uncertainty in communication. However, being straightforward is not a licence for rude talk or tactless statements. You may convey honest views without offending your colleagues or generating conflicts.

Avoid repetitive statements

Repeating what you said to a colleague increases monotony and increases the odds of people tuning out when you're talking. Touch on the major talking points briefly and explain in detail. Don't go over previously discussed talking points, except when your listener asks for clarification.

Watch your tone of voice

Tone influences the meaning of messages, so you can mind your tone when passing information at work. For example, using a calm voice to deliver commands is more effective than yelling instructions. The latter is likely to discourage or demotivate your team members or, worse, cause conflicts.

Ask for feedback

Whether you're discussing or giving a presentation, it's always good to ask for feedback from listeners. Feedback makes communication interactive and provides opportunities to evaluate the effectiveness of communication techniques. You may also be able to know if the other party listened to and understood your messages.

Implement a no-interruptions policy

If you're a manager, making a rule banning interruptions during group meetings may help your ability to deliver speeches easily. Interruptions are likely to disturb your flow and limit your success at communicating with the group. You can model this behaviour by waiting for your team members to finish before making any contributions as well.

Leverage technology for better communication

Today, there are dozens of communication tools that you can use to improve communication in the workplace. Workplace communication tools allow you to share information remotely with other members of staff. This is more convenient than arranging meetings and lets you share important details quickly.