Effective Communication in the Workplace


"Put out a consistent message about your values. Knowing who you are, and what you stand for, can help your employees make better decisions on their own (or at least decisions that you will like better). If you're sending mixed messages, explain them or suffer the consequences."(Monte Enbysk)

"Precision of communication is important, more important than ever, in our era of hair trigger balances, when a false or misunderstood word may create as much disaster as a sudden thoughtless act." ( James Thurber )


Communication is an important part of your job - one that is often taken for granted. When you think about it, almost everything you do calls for good communications. When you hire a new employee, good communication skills help you pick the right person and make sure the person you hire knows what the job involves. When you're training, coaching, or evaluating an employee, you need to be clear about your expectations and sensitive in dealing with problem areas. When conflicts arise, you'll need your communication skills to resolve the issues without creating more.

When the department is going through changes or a reorganization, you'll need special communication skills to get feedback and ideas from your staff and to give them news that's sometimes not pleasant, while keeping them motivated. Honest communication is one of the key ingredients in managing change as well as managing people.

Background Information

As we all know, communication is not just simply talking and listening, or writing and reading, but it also includes body language. Through these actions, meanings are transferred and understood between the sender and receiver. Hence, communication is a process to create a shared understanding.
For a communication to be successful and effective, a vast repertoire of interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, besides an appreciation of the various channels or mediums of communication is required, and the process has to be as error-free as possible. Just one little error somewhere along the communication process such as the lack of a needed skill, or the wrong channel or medium used, will lead to a faulty transference, a defective message. The meaning that is received and understood by the receiver is not quite, according to what it was meant to be originally by the sender and the result is a miscommunication, a misunderstandin

Principal Concepts

Communication -> he gathering, conveying and receiving of information and ideas. There are four parts to the process: sender, message, receiver and feedback.
Communication equipment/methods

Cultural diversity -> Individual differences in culture, race, customs/traditions, language and religious beliefs.
Enquiry -> An act of asking for information.
Feedback -> A reply to a message. This comment is used to develop and refine new ideas and approaches.
Non-verbal communication -> Communicating without speaking. Using body and facial expressions to convey a message.
Verbal communication ->Communication that is spoken. It may include:

  • answering client enquiries face-to-face
  • answering telephone/mobile phone calls
  • informal discussions
  • responding to requests from colleagues
  • using an answering machine/voice mail.
Workplace documentation -> May include:
  • correspondence (faxes, memos, letters and emails)
  • database reports (customer/client records)
  • booking system records
  • sales records (forecasts and actual)
  • forms (manual and electronic)
  • invoices (from suppliers and to debtors)
Written information -> Media used can be paper-based or electronic.

Topic 1

  • Acknowledge others communicating with you verbally and non verbally.
  • Rephrase thoughts. It is often good to rephrase and repeat what is being said to you back to those who are speaking. This insures not only that you understood what they said but more importantly what they meant.
  • Give examples. Using examples or personal experiences is a helpful way to communicate your ideas.
  • Use good diction. Speaking clearly and distinctly is extremely important. People may miss your point if you are hard to understand.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. You can communicate with a positive attitude whenever you speak. People will be more interested in what you say if you are using a positive sentence structure too.
  • Listen actively. Listening is the key in developing any type of relationship.
  • Interpret. Read between the lines of what is being said. Some people have a hard time expressing themselves. You can help them by trying to interpret what they mean.
  • Share. Sharing your ideas is a personal effort to relate to others.
  • Build trust. You need to build a bond of trust between you and the others in the conversation. Make them feel more at ease and they will be more likely to exchange ideas.
  • Make a connection. True communication requires a connection between the parties to a conversation. Try to build a connection. Find a common ground or common interest to open the way to a good conversation.

Topic 2

Nonverbal Communication in the Workplace

The workplace is full of communication, both verbal and nonverbal. Employees should understand that sometimes nonverbal communication can be just as important as verbal.

Eye Contact
Employees need to give fellow workers the respect they deserve. By looking someone in the eye, the speaker feels as though the message is being carried through to the recipient. Eye contact promotes understanding and honesty. Often times, if someone does not look the other person in the eye, there may be a feeling of insecurity or dishonesty.

Slouching in the chair signifies a person who may not care about the message being sent. A sloppy posture says that the recipient may not be paying attention or may be purposely trying to distract the speaker. Leaning back in the chair or rocking back and forth shows boredom and a distinct lack of interest in the message. In contrast, sitting up straight and leaning in slightly tells the speaker you are interested in the communication that is occurring.

Office Appearance
Believe it or not, the state of an office also signals communication to co-workers. If a desk is messy and strewn with paperwork, a person glancing at the office may believe the occupant has a cluttered mind and is harried when it comes to work. Saving only the paperwork that will be needed in the future can cut down on the paperwork stack that many people experience. In addition, it is important to remember that only the things that are needed throughout the day need to be on the desktop itself. For example, a stapler, tape dispenser and pencil cup can be permanent fixtures on a desk. Correction fluid, sticky notes and extra notepads can be kept in a draw and pulled out only when needed. An uncluttered, clean desk communicates an organized and neat individual.

Nonverbal communication is critical to the success of any workplace. It starts from the moment an employee applies for a job and continues through the employment of that particular employee. Realizing the importance of nonverbal communication can promote teamwork, respect and efficiency in any workplace.

Current Issues

Many people experience difficulties with their employee communication. I have trained hundreds of professional communicators in my career. I use to ask them what problems they see in executing their job. This is some of the problems that they have:

* Difficulties with local vs. central perspectives, and also hierarchical problems

* Cultural diversity

* From push to pull – difficulties in getting people to pull information

* Difficulties to get people engaged in changes

* Lack of time and/or resources

* Difficulties in getting people interested in the big picture.

* Unclear leadership, lack of goals and feedback from leaders.

* Leaders communication skills

* Unwillingness to change or tiered of changes or afraid to change

A mini tutorial of the communication process and other aspects of communication:



  • Books

Chew, Moh Leen & Lee, K.C. (2006). The Science of Effective Communication in the Workplace (Updated edition). National University of Singapore.

  • Journal Articles


  • Electronic Sources

Charles Sturt University :

  • Images

  • Video

Youtube source


Tofan Anca-Ioana