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  1. Career Advice
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  3. How to uphold & improve effective communication in the workplace
How to uphold & improve effective communication in the workplace

How to uphold & improve effective communication in the workplace

Artwork by: Tal Yavin

  • What are some examples of effective communication in the workplace?
  • What are the 5 keys to effective communication? 
  • What steps can you take to improve communication?
  • How can you uphold effective communication in the workplace?
  • Key takeaways

Effective communication in the workplace is not just about making sure information is shared. It’s also about building rapport with employees and co-workers. Read on to learn some ways you can uphold and improve effective communication in the workplace.

Effective communication in the workplace is crucial on both a business level and an individual one. Not only does communication ensure a productive work environment, but it can help build team morale, reduce conflict, improve client relations, and boost employee satisfaction. Developing good communication doesn’t happen overnight, however. It takes effort to get it right. 

In this guide, we will look at some of the ways you can build, uphold, and improve effective communication in the workplace. Here are a few of the things we will cover:

  • What are some examples of effective communication in the workplace?

  • What are the 5 keys to effective communication?

  • What steps can you take to improve communication?

  • How can you uphold effective communication?

What are some examples of effective communication in the workplace?

At first glance, effective communication can appear to be nothing more than exchanging information with a colleague or manager. However, it’s also about recognizing the intentions that go along with any type of information you receive.

There are several ways information can be shared and absorbed more effectively. These are some examples of some of the things that go into developing effective communication.

Using engaged listening: For effective communication in the workplace to occur, those receiving the information must have the opportunity to listen closely. Eliminating distractions, not interrupting, listening for emotion, and avoiding criticism are things you can do to be a more engaged listener.

Asking questions: Whether you are the one sharing information or the one receiving it, clarity is key. Before beginning a conversation, start by identifying the purpose of your conversation. This allows the listener to understand what you are trying to achieve so they can ask questions to help them better understand.

Understanding non-verbal cues: Body language, facial expressions, gestures, and even the tone of someone’s voice can affect how we receive the information being shared with us. If you can understand these non-verbal cues, you can use them to connect with the person you are talking to, which can help improve communication.

Considering barriers: Barriers between two individuals are often things that can negatively affect communication in the workplace. To help mitigate these issues, focus on staying on topic and pausing between responses to give both parties time to process and respond.

Using effective communication methods: From written to verbal, communication can come in many forms. To create effective communication in the workplace, choosing a communication method that promotes great communication is paramount. Consider the information you are sharing and choose a method that best portrays the importance of that material.

Expert Tip

If you notice that a topic of conversation is heading toward an argument, it is a good idea to set that discussion to the side for a short time. Once all parties have calmed down, you can revisit the discussion with clear heads.

Why is it important to have effective communication in the workplace? 

Developing strong communication in the workplace is beneficial to both business and personal success. It is such an important component of the workplace that employees tend to rank it highly when asked about items that affect their employment satisfaction. Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy by improving communication.

  • Boosted morale. Nothing boosts the morale around the office quite like improved communication. Employees are happier and more willing to share ideas when they feel heard. This can make them happier and businesses more successful thanks to the influx of new ideas the employees are now willing to share.

  • Fewer problems. One thing that can lead to more problems among co-workers and teams is a lack of communication. However, by developing an effective communication strategy for the workplace, employees can understand what is expected of them and others. Conflicts are easier to resolve and solutions can be found quickly when employees are actively communicating with one another.

  • Improved employee satisfaction. Since communication is important to employees, satisfaction can be improved when there is effective communication in the workplace. This helps make employees happier and can lower turnover. In turn, happy employees can deliver services that make your customers happier as well.

  • Better team building and trust. With effective communication, not only will teams be able to work together better, but they will trust each other more. This can lead to a better work experience for everyone, including you. When both employees and leaders work on developing better communication, you will find that teams are strong and you and your co-workers are happier.

Statistical Insight

Just how much can effective communication improve productivity?

Research shows that highly engaged teams are 21% more productive than teams that aren’t. These teams also enjoy 41% less absenteeism and 59% less turnover.

What are the 5 keys to effective communication? 

Whether you are an employee or a leader in the business, there are strategies you can implement to improve communication at all levels of the business. These are the 5 keys to effective communication..

  1. Build rapport with your team and co-workers from the very start. Trust can take time to build, so it’s a good idea to start getting to know your employees and co-workers from day one. Show interest in the activities your co-workers enjoy, and listen to them closely, so you can open lines of communication with them.

  2. Communicate regularly by scheduling meetings and keeping lines of communication open. Practice makes perfect when developing effective communication in the workplace, so ensure you are communicating with your employees and co-workers daily.

  3. Make clear expectations that each employee will have when completing the project whenever creating or reviewing assignments and projects, make clear the expectations. Allow time for questions when discussing projects and provide feedback promptly. Don’t forget to follow up after any meetings to ensure all topics and questions were covered and answered.

  4. Understand other communication styles. Every employee and co-worker will work a little differently when it comes to communication. While some may prefer email communication, others will opt for face-to-face or over-the-phone conversations. Whether you are an employee or leader, you will need to adapt your communication and interpersonal skills to adapt to these varying communication preferences.

  5. Providing feedback with consideration. Avoid becoming angry or aggressive when offering feedback because doing so can negatively affect the progress you’ve made in developing effective communication in the workplace.

What steps can you take to improve communication?

Now that we’ve discovered why communication is important, let’s take a closer look at the steps you can take to improve effective communication in the workplace.

  1. Start by evaluating how communication currently flows in the workplace.

  2. Next, decide what goals you have regarding future communication and determine what needs to change to reach those goals.

  3. Establish different strategies for the various groups within your organization. Communication will flow differently when working with senior management than it will with daily workers.

  4. Create a timetable for changes to be implemented.

  5. Evaluate your results.

How can you personally make a difference with communication?

Creating a work environment that promotes effective communication is often a group effort. But, there are some things you can do to get the ball rolling, even if you aren’t a manager or leader in the organization.

For starters, work on ensuring the tone of your voice truly portrays the information you want to share in a positive way. Keeping questions and comments friendly and respectful is a great way to do this. You should also express gratitude when a co-worker supplies you with information.

You can also keep communication with another individual strong by being thorough and concise in your wording. Provide them with the most important information first and then allow time to clarify after any questions are asked.

Timing is also an important tool that can help you develop an improved communication strategy. Depending on who you are communicating with, certain types of information may be better received at particular times. For example, leaders who are busy preparing for a meeting may not be as receptive to information that you need to share as they might be after the meeting when they have more time to devote to you.

Expert Tip

When it’s time for you to receive information, don’t forget to practice active listening, being considerate of others' views, and taking into account the non-verbal cues you are receiving. Be considerate and empathetic, and do your best to keep your emotions under control so you can reduce stress for the person you are speaking with and for yourself.

What can you do when employees refuse to communicate?

Unfortunately, not everyone you will encounter will be receptive to communication with you. If you regularly encounter co-workers or employees who refuse to communicate, there are still some ways you can develop effective communication at the workplace. 

Here are some of the things you should do as well as some of the things you should avoid when you find yourself in this situation.

  • Be clear when giving instructions or when communicating with an unwilling employee.
  • Be open to new lines of communication, including new channels or technology that may help some employees open up more.
  • Consider offering training to employees who lack communication skills.
  • Be unprofessional or attempt to intimidate an employee into communicating how you want them to.
  • Ignore feedback or suggestions from employees struggling to communicate. Instead, be open to their feedback and offer options.
  • Avoid providing employees with feedback or failing to address mistakes and issues that show up.

How can you make roles and responsibilities clear?

One way to make it easier to build effective communication in the workplace is by having roles and responsibilities that have been lined out for employees. There are a few strategies you can implement to get this done.

  1. Start by focusing on what needs to get done and which tasks should be completed first.

  2. Consider your employees' job descriptions and skill sets before assigning responsibilities.

  3. The skills and responsibilities of those your employees report to should also factor in when assigning tasks and projects.

  4. Create a system of communication that makes it easy for employees to stay up-to-date on task expectations and completion deadlines.

When employees understand what the expectation of them is, they will find it easier to communicate their needs and challenges with both each other and their leadership team. Managers should create a document for each role and each responsibility so that expectations are clear. Here is an example of what that might look like.


Job Title – A job title should convey the overall expectations you have for an employee.

Job Description – The job description field is designed to give an employee a general look at what type of work they will complete daily. You should write out the major details of your employee’s position in this section.

Job Responsibilities – Often, this is a bulleted list that goes into further detail regarding the skills an employee should have to complete the tasks this position will be handling.

Reports To – Adding information regarding an employee’s direct report can provide them with the information they need to communicate effectively with their leadership team.

How can you uphold effective communication in the workplace?

After an effective communication practice is in place, it will be time to uphold it. These are some of the tools you can use to pull that off.

  • Team building. Host or attend regular meetings and networking opportunities that allow employees and co-workers to bond and become more comfortable with one another.

  • Listen. Practice active listening whenever you are in a conversation and provide others the same opportunity to actively listen to you when you are speaking.

  • Reduce stress. One of the biggest opponents to effective communication in the workplace is stress. Putting strategies in place to reduce stress for yourself and your employees can help mitigate communication issues caused by stress.

  • Speak up. Don’t be afraid to express your own needs, wants, and opinions on a topic. Also, set boundaries and learn your limits. Saying ‘no’ is sometimes the right answer.

  • Revisit conversations. Following up on important conversations can help ensure all questions are asked and all employees feel heard and valued.

Key takeaways

  1. Actively listening and taking note of non-verbal cues can help you respond better in conversation and can reduce issues and disagreements you may have with co-workers.

  2. Communicating effectively takes practice and perseverance. Don’t forget to follow up after meetings and team-building exercises to ensure all questions and issues are taken care of.

  3. Be open to multiple streams of communication. Remember, everyone communicates differently and has their communication preferences. Being adaptable and able to use verbal, written, and even non-verbal means of communication can improve strategies that much more.

  4. Once an effective communication strategy is in place in the workplace, you aren’t finished with the job. Keep learning and improving your communication skills and strategies to ensure communication only gets better with time.

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