8 Effective Communication Tips

Updated: October 16, 2010

Effective communication is a fundamental element of a well-functioning workplace yet most of us run around the workplace practicing the communication skills we learned at home or in our social circles. The good news is that there are some practical things we can do immediately to improve how we communicate in the workplace so we can avoid some of the ongoing conflict and misunderstandings that can sap our energy and productivity. Leaders and employees at every level benefit from practicing effective communication skills because it takes less time to get more done when we know how to communicate well. Think of the following ideas when you communicate with your employees and co-workers.

  1. Speak to your audience. Stay away from jargon and talking in management speak. Keep it simple and conversational.
  2. Pay attention to non-verbal communication. 90% or more of communication is based on things like body language and tone. Focus on speaking in a kind manner that is calm and friendly. Be aware of how you might be coming across to others by paying attention to your body language, expressions and tone.
  3. Keep your voice down. You really don't have to shout, ever. It's very common for people to speak out of anger in the workplace but it's probably one of the least effective ways to communicate effectively. It actually closes down the lines of communication because nobody likes to be shouted at in the workplace.
  4. Listen a lot. Try listening the majority of the time and only talking when you are asking an open-ended question. Listening will help you gather more information so you can make better decisions. It also helps us get closer to our employees.
  5. Let go of the need to run things. Give yourself a break and let other people run the conversation and fill everyone in on what needs to happen. Give you employees more power by letting them take charge of the communication.
  6. The goal is two-way communication. This is the type of communication where all the participants get something out of the conversation and information is shared openly in all directions. It is based on a back and forth, natural rhythm where one person talks and others listen and people take turns talking calmly.
  7. It doesn't have to be frantic. It's OK to slow down and not race through everything or cover all the information in the world. Relax a bit and focus on one topic at a time, moving on when your employees tell you they've got each point.
  8. Share information openly. It's vital to make sure everyone has access to important information. Glitches happen because people have access to different or partial information at varying times. Help people feel valued by giving them the information you have.
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