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Workplace communication – what it is and why we need it

Communication is the exchange of information and ideas. It’s going on every day, all around us. It’s also an essential element of nearly any aspect of businesses and other organisations. When communication happens between staff, managers, suppliers, and clients, it’s called workplace communication.

Great communication at work can help to:

  • Avoid confusion
  • Provide purpose
  • Build a positive work environment
  • Facilitate teamwork
  • Boost productivity
  • Create accountability


There are lots of types of workplace communication

It’s easy to gloss over exactly what counts as workplace communication, but when you think about it, we’re communicating for a massive proportion of our time spent at work. In fact, some people spend up to 80% of their workday communicating.

Here are some of the different types of workplace communication you might use.

Verbal communication

When you think of communication, the most obvious form is probably talking. Every conversation you have, from your interview to phone calls, meetings, and presentations are all based on verbal communication.

You’ll need to focus on using the right words and terminology in the right context. Try not to over complicate things or use jargon; that just means that some people won’t understand what you’re talking about.

Non-verbal communication

You may not always be aware of when you are using non-verbal communication, but we often send cues using actions instead of words. This can be things like the tone of your voice, facial expressions, posture, hand gestures, eye contact, body language, and even appearance; in fact, non-verbal communication can actually be one of the clearest forms of communication between co-workers.

Written communication

Of course, you can’t forget about the value of written communication at work either. Emails, letters, memos, reports, minutes, proposals, and contracts are just a few of the forms of written communication you might think of off the top of your head.

Then there’s the information you read on websites, adverts and other promotional material – even the messages you might get left on your desk.

Written words and numbers account for a large chunk of the information that we take in and send on.

Visual communication

If you haven’t considered the importance of visual communication in workplaces yet, that’s understandable. Actually, it’s a commonly used way of communicating important and relevant information quickly.

To improve workplace safety, for example, you might see or use wall signs, equipment labels, chemical labels, floor signs, or industrial floor tapes to warn or remind people about their surroundings.

Using images, charts, and infographics can all help to share information in less time and with a greater rate of comprehension. Photographs, videos, film, and social media are all other ways visual communication is used in workplaces.

Workplace communication needs to be effective

If you’re at work and have a phone call, conversation, meeting, receive an email, letter, or message, and you don’t understand what it means or what action you need to take, then it hasn’t been effective.

If you’re trying to send information and the receiver doesn’t understand what you’re communicating or they interpret it the wrong way, then there’s been a communication failure or break down.

Not only can that be frustrating for everyone concerned, ineffective communications could even prevent you from doing your job properly. This ultimately costs organisations time, productivity, customers, and profit.

Tips for effective workplace communication

Here are a few things to think about to ensure that your workplace communications are effective:

  1. Speak to people face-to-face. That way you can understand tone, read body language, and ask questions directly.
  2. Work on and use your active listening skills.
  3. Be mindful of the language you use.
  4. Tailor your communications to specific audiences.
  5. Ask questions.
  6. Make sure that your non-verbal communication is in tune with your verbal communication.
  7. Remain diplomatic and professional.
  8. Timing is important, so be strategic about when you ask for meetings or plan presentations.
  9. Be positive and offer positive feedback (if you have to say something negative, try to balance it). This builds trust, openness and encourages better communication
  10. Stick to the point.
  11. Proofread written communications before sending them.
  12. Take a breath and think before responding.

You can find heaps more resources about the world of work on the our website here.


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