Best Communication Skills for the Workplace

BY Tim Londergan
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Typically, the basics of social interaction are straightforward and simple to follow. For instance, most of us learned the best communication skills early in our education, or if we were fortunate, at the knee of a caretaker or family member. These initial skills may have included saying "please" and "thank you" and taking turns talking. However, it’s not uncommon to experience co-​workers who seem to have a lapse in their training or simply be out of step with proper social protocol.

As the working world resumes interpersonal contact and the virtual workplaces dissolve into in-​person interactions, it is important and necessary to review the best communication skills for workplace success.

The best communication skills are often unspoken

Mastering nonverbal communication helps you send wordless messages that influence others on a subliminal level. The editorial team at indeed​.com compiled a list of effective workplace interactions and among them is nonverbal communication.

  • Use positive body language – Everything from your clothing to your handshake should reflect confidence and certainty. Further, looking people in the eye and assuming an erect posture will command respect and present firmness.
  • Simple gestures – Palms open and a broad smile are the universal symbols of trust and friendliness. Similarly, nods of agreement show you understand while using your fingers for clarity can emphasize your critical points.
  • Tone of voice and facial expressions – Beyond words, your tone, volume and pitch can communicate enthusiasm, happiness, anger, hesitancy, or sadness.

As you increase person-​to-​person encounters, take note of your unspoken communication skills to put your best foot forward.

Words and actions to avoid

Kathy and Ross Petras are sibling co-​authors of an article for cnbc​.com that addresses communication mistakes many of us make. Understandably, the timing is perfect. Civil behavior in the workplace is at a low ebb, according to The Harvard Business Review. Sadly, the cost is reflected in loss of customers, suppliers and employees. Increasingly, workplace bullying, unchecked rudeness, unqualified blaming, and barefaced discrimination infiltrate the American workplace. Clearly, it does not have to be, nor should it be, this way. To check your communication with co-​workers is a step toward being part of the solution. Similarly, there are certain actions, words and phrases that make others think more highly of you and improve your likability and productivity.

Check yourself for these communication mistakes

The Petras co-​authors list 13 communication mistakes that the most likeable people avoid. Below are some actions for your review. Perhaps you can identify those that may help regain your best communication skills. 

  • Not greeting people” – People like to be recognized and acknowledged; it breaks the ice and makes you appear warm and approachable. Additionally, pleasant, authentic greetings go a long way toward opening a dialogue for productive conversations.
  • Not inviting the other person to elaborate” or “Caring only about your own opinions” – These practices stifle communication. Moreover, they keep you from learning about others’ viewpoints and perceptions. Importantly, asking others their thoughts shows empathy and makes your audience feel more positive about you.
  • Not giving acknowledgement or compliments” or “Failing to express gratitude” – These are selfish behaviors that discourage others from seeking you out. Remember, compliments cost you nothing yet are highly valued by their recipient. Also, saying ‘thanks’ or validating others’ contributions make an impact far beyond the meager effort expended.

Additionally, the authors make clear the intrinsic value of inclusion and positivity that you can exhibit in your place of work. Importantly, taking time to develop your best communication skills will pay benefits with co-​workers, customers, suppliers, and in your personal life.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash