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Effective Communication in the Workplace

Effective Communication in the Workplace
Effective communication at the Fiji Sun office. Photo: Selita Bolanavanua
November 11
11:00 2017

Effective communication is the biggest challenge that a team has to deal with in every workplace.

A survey by the Australasian Leadership Institute showed that the biggest complaint by employees was that the communication between the team and the organisation is not good enough and they don’t feel included, they don’t feel valued and they don’t feel they know what is going on, and it gets worse.

When the survey asked Leaders for their opinion on communication the general consensus was that they believed and agreed that communication was poor but they felt they personally communicated well with their team but people above them never communicated well with them.

Communication is a serious issue and in this article I will explore ways to solve it.

It’s natural to communicate. We all communicate in different ways all  day. It’s so common in fact that we often fail to recognise  how difficult it is to communicate effectively.

To be successful at anything requires hard work and preparation and successful communication is no different.

If you want effective communication in your workplace then follow these steps and you will start to notice a significant difference.


Define success

You can’t communicate an idea unless you have a clear picture of what the idea is. The first step towards effective communicate is to clearly define what success is. If you hold a meeting or if you send a memo or email then you need to be completely clear what you want as a result.

You don’t want to fall into the trap that many leaders fall into and that is to communicate just for the sake of communicating.

It’s no longer enough just to inform people you need to inspire people to take action and you can’t inspire people if you don’t know what action you want people to take.


Three versions

Bill Clinton, the former President of the United States was regularly praised on his ability to communicate effectively.

When asked about how he did this his reply was that you need three versions of your message, providing you with the opportunity to use the version that best suits the circumstances.

He said that you need a twenty minute version, a five minute version and a 30 second version of your message.

This is not easy and will take some preparation but nothing worth having comes easy and if you are thinking to yourself that you can’t condense your message into 30 seconds then I will remind you of a quote by the famous scientist Albert Einstein.

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough” – Albert Einstein


Adapt communication

One of the reasons why I created the 4 Quadrant Communication Model was to explain just how and why a group of people can listen to the same message and walk away with very different interpretations of what was said.

If you have ever attended any of my Leadership Workshops then you will be familiar with the 4Q Model but in simple terms everyone receives and sends communication through a combination of four styles.

We focus on the big picture, the specifics, the impact on people and the logical consequences. If you understand how people think you can adapt your communication appropriately.


Chose your words carefully

People don’t want to be talked to they what to be talked with. The best leaders include people in the message so be careful what words you say.

A typical dictionary contains 171,476 words all of which are available. Here’s a quick and simple guide to what words to use in order to include people in your message.

When talking about emotion use “I” When praising people focus on “you” and when talking about taking action focus on “we”.

Don’t assume how others are feeling so only talk about your own emotions hence the focus on “I” people need to feel valued and this is more effective when done individually hence the focus on “you” and finally action requires a collective effort which is why you focus on “we” when talking about action.



Remember when I spoke about defining success for your communication and why the final step of any message is the execution.

People need to know what are the next steps they have to take , it’s important not to assume that this action is obvious because what is obvious to one person is not obvious to another.

How our brain works is that it doesn’t like anything that is unknown so when we receive a message our brain places assumptions in the place of anything that is left unsaid.

If the intent of the message is unclear then the brain naturally places the meaning on the message based on what the  intent would be if they themselves said it. This is why you see so many misunderstandings in the workplace and unnecessary conflict. Communication is the heartbeat of any successful team.

Don’t make the mistake of taking communication for granted and instead invest time to prepare your message and you will see that effective communication will grow within your team and when it does you will see your team grow as well.



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