As workplace environments evolve, so do the need for effective communication strategies. It’s essential for every professional — especially leaders –– to understand and identify the various types of communication styles that will help you achieve success in your organization. Whether it’s internal or external conversations, understanding how people communicate and what type of messages work best with different audiences is key to successful leadership.
To help you craft effective conversations in all areas of business, we’ll explore four types of workplace communication styles: verbal, non-verbal, written and visual. With this knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to create meaningful dialogue that yields positive results for everyone involved. Let's take a closer look at each type of communication style!
- Verbal Communication
Verbal communication is the process of conveying information, ideas, or feelings through spoken words. It's an essential aspect of our daily interactions, both in personal and professional settings. Effective verbal communication can lead to improved relationships, increased productivity, and a more harmonious work environment.
Best Practices for Verbal Communication:
- Clarity: Speak clearly and concisely to ensure your message is easily understood. Try to avoid using jargon or complex terminology that may confuse your listener.
- Active listening: Pay close attention to your conversation partner, demonstrating empathy and understanding. This involves not only hearing the words but also interpreting their tone, emotion, and intention.
- Appropriate tone and volume: Match your tone and volume to the situation. A calm, measured voice conveys confidence and professionalism, while a loud or aggressive tone may come across as confrontational.
- Asking questions: Encourage open dialogue by asking questions and seeking clarification when needed. This helps ensure both parties are on the same page and fosters mutual understanding.
- Body language: Be mindful of your non-verbal cues (more on this later), such as eye contact, facial expressions, and gestures, as they can significantly impact the effectiveness of your verbal communication.
How it Looks in Practice
Imagine you're leading a team meeting to discuss the progress of an ongoing project. Your objective is to address any concerns, provide updates, and motivate your team members. Here are some tips:
- Start by clearly outlining the agenda, so everyone knows what to expect.
- As you present updates, speak confidently and maintain eye contact with your team members to convey sincerity and engagement.
- Encourage feedback and questions by creating an open and inclusive atmosphere. For example, you could say, "I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, Sarah. Do you think we're on track?"
- When addressing concerns or providing constructive criticism, maintain a respectful tone and focus on the issue at hand rather than the individual.
- Wrap up the meeting by summarizing key points and expressing gratitude for your team's hard work and dedication.
- Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal communication refers to the transmission of information, ideas, or emotions without using spoken language. Instead, it relies on various cues such as facial expressions, body movements, gestures, eye contact, and tone of voice. It plays a crucial role in conveying messages and can often speak louder than words.
Best Practices for Nonverbal Communication:
- Eye contact: Maintain appropriate eye contact to show attentiveness, confidence, and sincerity. But pay attention to how the other person reacts and try to meet them where they’re comfortable when it comes to direct eye contact.
- Facial expressions: Be aware of your facial expressions, as they can convey emotions and attitudes. A genuine smile, for example, can help create a positive and welcoming atmosphere.
- Posture: Adopt an open and relaxed posture to convey approachability and confidence. Crossing your arms or slouching may be interpreted as defensive or disinterested.
- Gestures: Use natural and meaningful gestures to emphasize your message and express your emotions. Be mindful of cultural differences in gestures, as some may have different meanings in various contexts.
- Proximity: Respect personal space and adjust your distance according to the situation and cultural norms. Standing too close may feel intrusive, while being too far away may seem distant or disengaged.
How it Looks in Practice
Let's say you're attending a networking event to build connections and expand your professional circle. Effective nonverbal communication can significantly impact your ability to form positive relationships. Here are a few tips:
- As you approach someone, make eye contact and offer a warm, genuine smile to create a friendly and inviting impression.
- When engaging in conversation, maintain an open posture with uncrossed arms and relaxed shoulders to show your interest and approachability.
- Nod occasionally to acknowledge the speaker and convey that you're actively listening.
- Use gestures to emphasize your points, such as open palms to show honesty or a gentle touch on the arm to establish rapport (if culturally appropriate).
- Be mindful of your proximity, ensuring you're close enough for comfortable conversation without infringing on the other person's personal space.
- Written Communication
Written communication is the process of conveying information, ideas, or emotions through written words or symbols. It plays a crucial role in professional settings, as it helps to document, clarify, and share ideas across various channels such as emails, reports, and social media.
Best Practices for Written Communication:
- Clarity and conciseness: Write clearly and concisely, ensuring your message is easy to understand. Use simple language and avoid unnecessary jargon or overly complex sentences.
- Proper grammar and punctuation: Ensure your writing is free of grammatical errors and follows proper punctuation rules. This not only enhances readability but also demonstrates professionalism.
- Logical structure: Organize your writing in a logical and coherent manner, using headings, bullet points, and paragraphs to break up large blocks of text and guide the reader through your content.
- Appropriate tone: Adopt a tone that suits the context and audience of your writing. For instance, a formal tone may be appropriate for a business report, while a more conversational tone could be used in an email to colleagues.
- Proofread: Always review your writing for errors, inconsistencies, and areas for improvement. It's also helpful to ask a trusted colleague to proofread your work for a fresh perspective.
How it Looks in Practice
Let's assume you need to send an email to your team members, providing updates on a project and requesting their feedback on a specific issue. Here are a few steps for this process:
- Begin with a clear and concise subject line that accurately reflects the email's content, such as "Project X Update & Request for Feedback."
- Open the email with a friendly greeting and a brief introduction to the purpose of the message.
- Organize the main points into separate paragraphs or bullet points, ensuring a logical flow of information.
- Maintain a professional yet approachable tone throughout the email, using inclusive language and inviting your team members to share their thoughts.
- Close the email with a clear call-to-action, specifying any deadlines or action items, and express gratitude for your team's input.
- Finally, proofread the email thoroughly to ensure it is free of errors and effectively communicates your intended message.
- Visual Communication
Visual communication is the conveyance of information, ideas, or emotions through visual elements such as images, graphics, charts, and diagrams. It's a powerful tool in professional settings, as it can help to simplify complex concepts, engage audiences, and enhance the overall impact of your message. To harness the power of visual communication, let's examine some best practices and a real-world example that demonstrates its effective use.
Best Practices for Visual Communication:
- Simplicity: Keep your visuals clean and straightforward, focusing on the most critical information. Overcrowding your visuals with too many elements can confuse or distract your audience.
- Consistency: Maintain consistency in design elements such as colors, fonts, and styles across all your visuals. This creates a cohesive and professional appearance.
- Relevance: Ensure your visuals are relevant to the content and support your message. Irrelevant visuals can detract from your core message and diminish its effectiveness.
- Accessibility: Design your visuals to be accessible to people with different abilities, using appropriate color contrasts, font sizes, and alternative text for images.
- Balance: Strive for a balance between visual elements and text, ensuring that visuals enhance your message without overwhelming or competing with the written content.
How it Looks in Practice
Say you're presenting a quarterly HR report and want to incorporate visual communication to make the data more engaging and accessible. Here are a few steps to make it most effective:
- Start by choosing a clean and simple template for your presentation that reflects your company's branding and color scheme.
- Use charts or graphs to represent sales trends and comparisons, ensuring they are easy to read and understand. For instance, a line chart could effectively show sales growth over time, while a bar chart could compare sales across different regions.
- Add relevant images or icons to break up large blocks of text and visually reinforce key points. For example, you could use an upward-pointing arrow icon to emphasize an increase in sales.
- Ensure your visual elements are accessible to all audience members by using high-contrast colors, clear fonts, and including alternative text for images.
- Throughout the presentation, maintain a balance between text and visuals, allowing each element to complement and support the other.
By implementing these best practices in various types of communication, you'll be able to present information more effectively, engage your audience, and convey your message with greater impact in any professional setting.
Adapting to New Forms of Communication
Effective workplace communication is not a static process. Instead, it’s often tailored and adapted to meet the needs of both your employees and clients.
To stay ahead of the curve, it's important to remain up-to-date on new forms of communication like new apps or technology. This helps you identify the best practices for your team’s unique needs and ensure effective collaboration in any context.
For example, in the era of hybrid and remote work, communication tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom have become essential for successful collaboration between teams spread across different locations. These platforms enable real-time dialogue, task delegation, and file sharing.
At the same time, in-person communication is still valuable for building relationships and fostering a sense of community within your team. Employee events such as happy hours or team lunches are great opportunities to strengthen interpersonal connections. You can also make it a learning experience by turning the team lunch into a workshop on communication skills, conflict resolution, and active listening.
Using Communication to Enhance Wellbeing in the Workplace
Effective communication is essential for any team. Without it, collaborations can become strained, leads are missed, and relationships suffer.
Bringing a team together requires more than meetings and brainstorm sessions. You need to help create meaningful connections between colleagues through activities that build trust, foster understanding from different perspectives and cultivate productive work environments.
Gympass' wellbeing platform offers activities you can use to drive team unity, creativity and build positive relationships across different levels of the organization. Let us help you bring your employees closer together. Connect with a Gympass wellbeing specialist to learn what we can do for your workforce wellness!
- The Importance of Effective Workplace Communication – Statistics. (March 9, 2023). Expert Market. Retrieved June 9, 2023 from https://www.expertmarket.com/phone-systems/workplace-communication-statistics.
The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.