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Career Development Tips

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated June 29, 2021

Guide Overview

What are workplace communication skills?How to maximize effective workplace communication

Guide Overview

Communication and workplace success

Communication skills are an important aspect of success in almost any industry of work. Effective communication skills build a clear understanding between yourself and your colleagues. Using these skills enhances your ability to convey ideas and emotions, listen to others, respond appropriately, and absorb information around us. Utilizing and actively working on our listening skills can help lead to greater career success and workplace satisfaction. Let's look at some steps to consider for improve your communication skills in the workplace and become as successful as possible. 

What are workplace communication skills?

Workplace communication skills are the tools we implement at work to help us relay information and ideas to one another. We often use these abilities intuitively in daily life, but how well we have developed these skills can affect our ability to communicate effectively, efficiently, and respectfully. Mirroring those who exhibit strong communication skills around you and seeking out ways to actively improve and consciously learn about your communication skills can help you succeed professionally.

How to maximize effective workplace communication

You communicate verbally, non-verbally, and in writing consistently at work to help meet the demands of your job. Effective communication is a fundamental skill which, when used correctly, can help you create strong bonds with others, resolve conflict, show empathy, and even persuade others. Reflect upon the steps below to help you focus your efforts and improving your own skills in the workplace.

  1. Listen for understanding. When having a conversation with another, or during a presentation, be sure to give the other individual your undivided attention. Put away any distractions, silence phones, and turn off any social media alerts. Focus on being in the moment and use your body and facial expressions to indicate your interest in what someone else has to say. Turn your body towards the individual speaking, sit up or stand straight to show you are alert, and maintain eye contact as they speak to show attentiveness. Using these listening skills in the workplace shows you respect the ideas of others.
  2. Be aware of the audience. Communication is a constant give and take of information. Even when you are not speaking, how you conduct yourself sends cues to the other individual. Take into consideration your audience when communicating to help get your message across. Within a workplace setting, much of your communication is formal and should comprise language that is respectful and constructive to communicate and maintain professionalism.
  3. Adjust to the atmosphere. Practicing good workplace communication skills also involves considering your surroundings. Target the content of your message based on your environment. It may not be necessary to use academic and industry-specific language in the lunchroom, but during a conference or presentation, you want to remain cordial and use applicable jargon.
  4. Express empathy. Most people will be more willing to communicate and listen to your perspective if they feel understood as well. Showing the ability to understand someone else’s feelings by either validating and reiterating them or giving non-verbal cues such as head nods and smiles reveals emotional intelligence.
  5. Exhibit a welcoming demeanor. Individuals will be more likely to communicate with you if you are approachable and welcoming. Smiling, making eye contact, extending a handshake, or giving a friendly nod shows kindness. Honesty in the workplace and kindness will help build trust with your colleagues and can help build a positive company culture.
  6. Convey confidence. People often respond positively to what you say when you say it with confidence. Although communicating confidence and assertiveness is a skill that requires practice and intention, when you communicate your message clearly, with purpose, and in a way that emphasizes your belief in yourself, people are more responsive. Knowing your strengths, being positive in the workplace, accepting compliments, taking constructive criticism, and even knowing how to motivate others are all examples of ways you can exude confidence at work.
  7. Edit your writing. Although written communication skills are often overlooked, how you present your ideas in the written form can indicate a lot about you. Others sometimes misinterpret your written inflection or message when reading. Carefully re-reading an email or editing a memo can help you maintain professionalism at work and prevent any misunderstandings. Keep a professional tone, use direct language, and privately read aloud any written communications to ensure your message is strong, confident, and positive.
  8. Focus on body language. Much of your personality is communicating to others through your body language. Being aware of how you stand, where you place your arms, and making eye contact are all crucial to having open and welcoming body language. Your professional interactions, conduct at meetings, and even how you move from room to room can be key indicators about the type of employee and coworker you are. Focus on these non-verbal cues to be sure you are conveying an appropriate message for the workplace.
  9. Pay attention to your tone in all settings. You present your tone through the descriptive vocabulary you use and the intonations you have in your voice when you verbalize your ideas. Maintaining a professional tone for workplace interactions shows you respect those around you and can help you gain trust from your peers.
  10. Collect your thoughts. It is important to be judicious when considering what to say and when to say it. Before you speak, consider if what you are about to say is conducive to completing a task or supporting someone else. Thinking about what you say before you say it can help you avoid an embarrassing situation and can be an effective way to maintain positive workplace relationships. Creating a healthy work environment makes people feel comfortable in your presence and can lead to greater productivity.
  11. Be equitable. Treat others kindly and equally. Consistency is key when interacting with others and in order to cultivate positive work relationships, your behavior with and treatment of others should be consistent and positive. Consider how receptive you are when someone approaches you, then reflect upon ways you can support others through encouragement and understanding. A simple way to cultivate strong bonds at work is to practice humility and be aware of your weaknesses. Seek others to help you and show gratitude for how your coworkers contribute to projects and success of the organization. Maintaining a positive attitude when you interact with all individuals will establish you as an honest, dependable, consistent, and ethical colleague.
  12. Look for cues from others. Learning how to read the non-verbal cues others give while interacting can help you respond positively and quickly. Communication is a key interpersonal skill that can help you support those around you and reveal your leadership qualities. The body language others implement, either with purpose or subconsciously, can tell you many things about their mood, emotions, or perspective.
  13. Accept feedback. You can consider asking a friend or trusted colleague for their opinion regarding your own communication skills. Express a desire to improve and listen if they offer some constructive criticism. Although it might be hard, having another opinion can reveal things about your communication style that you were not aware of.
  14. Look for opportunity. One of the best ways to improve your skills is by practicing them. Take advantage of the opportunities at work to socialize with others and observe interactions. If there is an opportunity to lead a discussion or present on a topic, consider volunteering. These actions will help you hone your skills and demonstrate desirable leadership qualities to a manager. Taking initiative at work can give you an opportunity to practice your soft skills and highlight your abilities. Think about ways you can focus on improving your skills away from work. Maybe volunteering in the community center or guiding a course at the local library can provide an opportunity for you to understand more about your skills and reflect on ways to improve. Like most qualities, communication will improve with practice and focus.
  15. Seek guidance from experts. Consider asking a person you admire for their communication skills to mentor you or for some basic advice on ways to improve and practice. There are conferences and seminars that you can register for and attend to help you work on your skills. Many companies offer professional development opportunities and can serve as resources for you to access.
  16. Conduct your own research. Understanding why communication skills are so important is just the start of being able to harness these abilities for workplace success. Consider reading some informational texts to support your efforts. There are many books available to guide you and inform your efforts. Adequate communication skills can also vary from region to region and cultural influence.

Don’t feel pressured to try all these tips at once. Even just a few at a time until they become habitual will gradually sharpen your communications skills until they become the best that they can be. When you become a better listener and communicator, others around you will notice your efforts and follow suit.

Learn more: Communication Skills to Elevate Your Career

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