Top 10 Tips for Improving Workplace Communication

People talking around a laptopHaving good communication skills is highly beneficial in the workplace. Being able to communicate with your teammates, co-workers, and customers can help you to improve your professional relationships and become more productive.

In a time when many of us are talking to our colleagues using video calls and instant messages, having solid communication skills is more important than ever. Therefore, we’ve put together our top ten tips for better workplace communication – we hope they help!

1. Use Global Listening

There are three ‘levels’ of listening – the third, and most desirable, is Global Listening. This is the style of listening we should all aim for, which allows us to gain a deeper understanding of the person we’re listening to and understand their true meaning. This is achieved by focusing on the environment you’re in and the speaker’s underlying emotions, intentions and beliefs, talking less and listening to every detail.

2. Ask Questions

Asking questions can help you engage more as a listener. By doing so, you’re not only showing your conversation partner that you’re paying attention but also furthering your own understanding of the topic. Showing this engagement can help you build stronger relationships with your co-workers, and gives you the opportunity to learn.

3. Consider the Purpose of the Communication

Laptop surrounded by email symbolsYou can use the purpose of the communication to decide the best form of contact. For example, simple reminders may be best expressed via email or instant message, as this is efficient and also gives the receiver a written reminder they can refer back to.

However for more complicated or potentially sensitive conversations, an in-person conversation (or video call if this is not possible) may be the best option as it allows for the use of non-verbal and interpersonal cues to avoid misinterpretation.

4. Consider the Audience of the Communication

Different types of communication suit different types of people. If you know your co-workers well enough to know their preferences, try to follow these where possible to allow for smoother communication. For example, one co-worker may prefer for information to be broken down in an email, whereas another may prefer an in-person or telephone conversation so they can ask questions and make clarifications.

5. Use Inclusive Language

Women in a meetingThe use of inclusive language is an important part of being respectful in the workplace. There are different ways in which you can speak inclusively – for example, using words and sentences that are clear and can be understood by everyone, without unnecessary jargon or over-complication.

Using inclusive language also means avoiding discriminatory language, such as using stereotypes or  discussing physical traits (such as age, gender, race, disability or weight) without reason.

6. Take Cultural Differences into Account

Non-verbal cues, such as gestures, are an important communication tool which allows us to further express the meaning behind our words, or even replace words entirely!

However, when working with people from a different culture than your own, be aware that gestures that seem innocuous (such as a ‘thumbs up’ or ‘OK symbol’ gesture) may be seen as rude or even completely inappropriate for a work setting.

If you rely on gestures often, it may be worth researching alternative meanings to avoid accidentally offending future co-workers or customers from another culture.

7. Take Personality Types into Account

The DiSC model suggests there are four different personality traits – Dominance, Influence, Conscientiousness and Steadiness. Understanding what type of personality you have, and what type your colleagues might be can help you tailor your communication style to one that suits them best.

For example, Dominance personalities are results-focused so may prefer direct communication, whereas Conscientiousness personality care about accuracy and expertise so may want a more detailed, in-depth conversation. There are many different personality models out there – why not try taking a quiz for one with your team?

8. Follow the 7 C’s of Communication

The 7 C’s of communication are:

  • Clear – The speaker uses plain language and avoids jargon, idioms or complex words/phrases.
  • Concise – The communication is short, to the point and consistent.
  • Concrete – The communication is unbiased, factual and clear, with nothing left open to interpretation.
  • Correct – The grammar and words used are done so correctly, if the communication is written then it is free of punctuation and spelling errors.
  • Considerate – The speaker takes the audience background into account, and speaks accordingly based on their prior knowledge, age, culture etc.
  • Complete – The communication is backed up by facts and does not miss out any information.
  • Courteous – The speaker is respectful, honest and polite.

These principles aim to ensure the person you’re communicating with hears and understands what you’re saying to them.

9. Be Conscious of Personal Boundaries

Two people shaking handsIn face-to-face professional situations, physical greetings such as handshakes are commonplace. However, handshakes that last too long or are too firm can come across as uncomfortable and potentially intimidating.

Additionally, some people may not be comfortable with physical touch at all, particularly at the moment – the best course of action if you’re unsure is to avoid touching them altogether, or ask for their permission first.

10. Ensure Your Verbal and Non-Verbal Cues Match

Be aware of your facial expressions, gestures, body posture or other nonverbal cues and how another person could perceive them – while many non-verbal cues are conscious, they can be controlled. By making sure your non-verbal cues match what you are saying, you can remove uncertainty from the conversation and ensure the person you’re speaking to understand your intentions.

We are currently running an offer on our Communication Skills, Conflict Resolution and Site Induction courses for this month only! Get 10% off these online training courses with the code ‘comms10’ at checkout.

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