If you want to be successful, you need to learn how to communicate effectively in the workplace. Good communication skills are one of the most important and sought after leadership qualities, making it that much more important to work on.

There is a method of communication that works best for each particular scenario, depending on your team members, company culture, and the work environment. Both leaders and employees need to pay attention to their tone of voice and body language while harnessing the right communication tools in order to improve communication and to foster an effective workplace for all. 

Because open communication and effective communication are essential to any working team, Fellow has put together your complete guide to work on your communication skills and truly see results. We’ll start by outlining the 4 main types of communication, talk about some ways to create effective communication in the workplace and finish off with some tips to take away. 

What are the 4 types of communication? 

1 Verbal communication  

Verbal communication sends a message to another person or group via speech. This type of communication can occur through several different channels such as face to face, via video call or regular phone call, so long as someone is speaking out loud. For that reason, it’s really important to pay attention to your tone of voice and always speak clearly, respectfully, and professionally. This method of communication is the most commonly known method and likely the most used method in the workplace. 

2 Non-verbal communication  

Nonverbal communication is the way we send a message without actually using words. It’s really important to be aware of the way in which you conduct yourself in meetings and during interactions with your colleagues, including paying special attention to your body language, facial expression and eye contact. This means that in meetings you’re sat up straight, you’re not fidgeting or on your phone, and you’re showing your team members that you’re engaged and paying attention. Our nonverbal communication is often judged by others so it’s important to make the right impression by coming off as professional and respectful. 

3 Written communication  

Written communication sends a message using written words to convey the information that we’re trying to get across. It’s important to take your time when writing a message at work because little slip ups can look unprofessional and can make people question your credibility, even when you’re a stellar employee. Paying attention to using the appropriate grammar and punctuation is important for professionalism. Make sure to also write clearly and concisely so that the information is easily understood. 

4 Visual communication  

Visual communication methods are those that can be seen. In the workplace, often visual communication tools are used as support to the primary information being conveyed. Most times, when we have a lot of information, visual representations help us better understand the information. Common corporate visual communications include graphs, models and images. These visual aids serve to support the audience in better understanding the information being conveyed. 

Ways to create effective communication in the workplace

Now that we’ve gone through the most common types of communication that take place in the workplace, here are some effective communication tactics to engage with: 

1 Set clear goals and expectations 

First and foremost, make sure that you’re setting clear goals and expectations with your team members. If employees don’t understand the end goal or what’s expected of them, there is definitely a gap in communication that needs to be addressed.

When you communicate goals and expectations properly, your team will be much more productive and effective in completing their tasks because they’ll have understood what is required from the get-go. Make sure to leave some time for questions and to ask your team if they’ve understood the task at hand. 

2 Ask clarifying questions 

If you haven’t fully grasped something, make sure that you ask clarifying questions. 

Asking questions not only shows you’re listening attentively, but it also confirms that you’ve understood the communicator and reinforces the information that’s been shared with you. Clarifying questions can also help you gain a stronger understanding of the topic being discussed, making this instance a great learning opportunity. Make sure that you only ask questions when you’re fully engaged, being attentive and when it relates to what is being spoken about. 

3 Schedule regular one-on-one meetings 

Another way to improve communication or to sustain strong communications between you and your team is to schedule regular one-on-one meetings. Some managers shy away from one-on-one’s because they see them as time-consuming, which is an unfortunate mistake. This time is more than worthwhile because it creates open communication and transparency. This is an opportunity to enhance employee engagement and to build strong professional relationships. With strengthened relationships and communication comes higher employee satisfaction and higher performance

Pro tip

Use a meeting management tool like Fellow to create engaging conversations with your direct reports by improving communications during one-on-one meetings.

Best one on one meeting tool

4 Praise in public, criticize in private 

Praise in public and give your criticism privately. This is a good rule of thumb to stick to and a strong method of communication. It’s important and nice for your other team members to also recognize when a job has been done well. Conversely, it’s not important for the rest of the team to know when someone has missed the mark. It’s more respectful and more professional to give your individual criticism in private. Constructive feedback is most effectively delivered face to face and where that’s not possible, through a video call, so that it’s more personal. 

5 Assume positive intent 

People are inherently good. If something upsets you or feels negative, try asking yourself: Was there malicious intent? Did they mean to upset me? Most times, people have a positive intent and if they’ve done something that rattles your cage a little, it was probably unintentional. Open communication is important in these instances so be upfront and honest with the individual and let them know how their words or actions left you feeling so that you can clear the air. 

6 Repeat important messages in different formats  

If there’s an important message that you need to get across, consider repeating or delivering that information in a few different ways so that it really sticks. Typically, an important message is first conveyed in a meeting. That message can then become reinforced when participants write meeting notes, when meeting minutes are circulated when action items are sent or a meeting recap is shared with the rest of the team. When the message is relayed several times through several different channels, chances are your team is going to remember. 

7 Raise your words, not your voice 

It’s really important to work on and expand your professional vocabulary so that you can articulate what you’d like to say in the most appropriate way possible. It’s really important not only to pay attention to what we’re saying, but how we’re saying it. If you feel yourself getting heated in a discussion, take some time to think about the most appropriate way to respond, rather than reacting immediately out of frustration or anger. Never raise your voice at work! It’s not a good look and it’s also highly unnecessary.  

8 Hold townhalls and cross-functional check-ins 

Holding town hall meetings, where the entire company attends including senior members is valuable for fostering open communications across the entire company. Townhall meetings are a good idea because employees can interact with individuals they don’t often get the opportunity to work with. It’s a good opportunity for leaders to share critical results, company-wide updates and to celebrate achievements. Similarly, cross-functional check-ins bring together groups of employees who don’t typically work together to update one another so that they can get everyone on the same page. This will foster effective workplace communication and bring your team closer together. 

Tips for effective workplace communication 

Effective workplace communication is essential to the successful functioning of any organization. It’s important to be self-aware and mindful of the way in which you choose to communicate in general, but especially while you’re at work. A good communicator is thoughtful and speaks with intent. Often, we can tell when a message is well received, and when it isn’t. Pay attention to other people’s reactions and non-verbal communication cues in those instances. 

Now that we’ve gone through how to communicate effectively in the workplace, here are a few final tips to serve as reminders for effective workplace communication:

  • Create a positive atmosphere
  • Use technology to make your communication more organized
  • Check in with employees on a regular basis
  • Offer positive feedback in public and constructive feedback in private
  • Always assume positive intentions 
  • If there is an issue or misunderstanding, confront it ASAP to clear the air 
  • Take meeting notes 
  • Use your voice and don’t be afraid to participate 

As always, it’s a pleasure to see you on the Fellow Blog and we hope to catch you soon!