Effective Communication

What is Effective Communication in the Workplace?

Interpersonal Skills that Get Your Point of View Adopted Through Effective Business Communication 


First, let’s define both words in Effective Communication.

Effective means, “successful in producing a desired or intended result.”

So right off the bat, we see that “effective” implies that we are trying to achieve something.

We want something to happen. We want someone to do something.

Communication means, “exchanging information or news.”


What is Effective Communication?

Effective communication is when a person wants a desired outcome by sharing key information or news. The purpose of sharing ideas is to influence others to achieve a goal or result.

This is much different from small talk with your colleague or boss. When we communicate effectively, we want someone else to do something. We want them to change their behavior.

Setting a clear SMART goal or clearly understanding what you want from the outcome of a communication is critical.  


How Can You Improve Good Communication in the Workplace?

Do you ever say something to a business partner without knowing what you want them to do?

Sometimes we have an idea. It’s jumbled in our head and we are not sure how it specifically relates to our audience. Often we do not know what we want them to do.

Our business colleague, manager or employees leaves our meeting unsure what we want them to do. Any time we produce uncertainty, we also produce anxiety and skepticism.

Research also suggests that the more specific you can make the action you want others to do, the more influential it becomes. It’s a way you can begin building trust. The more the listener can visualize the task, the more they will be willing to do it.

To get a desired result, one of the first places you must start is by defining the action.

Nine times out of ten, the ask we have is simple. However, if it is portrayed unclearly then your audience will automatically be skeptical.

When you’re the boss, effective communication helps you influence and change the people who report to you and others in the company. Have you ever had a communication that was unclear from your boss?

It’s really difficult to know what action you should take. You are left feeling uncertain which way to proceed, and if you don’t have clarity you might even have anxiety associated with the actions you plan on taking.

That is not effective at all.

When you’re the one reporting to a boss, the way you speak is just as critical. It should help your boss see that what you do has value and it should show your boss where he or she can support you.

If you cannot say these things clearly, you’ll have little support for your ideas.


What kind of action should we have people do?

First, the intended result we want people to do has nothing to do with feelings. It’s about the action people take after they hear your message.

When we consult, it never fails that someone will say, “I just want my audience to be informed;” or, “I want them to feel” energized, happy, anxiety.

These feelings or states of being are NOT actions. And you will not be influential if you go for them. 

You might use feelings to get people to act. However, feelings or a state of being should not be the outcome you want from your messages.

Your message should help your audience understand why the action you want them to take is important.


Barriers to Effective Communication Skills

Your Audience

Often, our audience’s attention span can block us from getting our point across to others. We explain this in our blog post: How to lose your audience when public speaking

The point however, is that if we are not speaking clearly and there is the need to interpret what we say, then bye-bye. You lost your audience. 

Your Message

The way you say what you are communicating is one of the most critical aspects we have seen with your interaction with other people. 

If you are an expert known for your technical skills or you have deep domain expertise in your business, you already have built-in trust.

However, the moment you speak in a way that is confusing to others, you lose that credibility. 

You can read our steps to creating a message or download our workbook to help get you started.

Your Context 

We’ve also found that context is important. You can provide context in a meaningful way, which we described above. It’s also how we portray or frame this context. 

But it’s also important to understand the context your audience is coming from. This is much easier to do in an internal communication setting because we know who we want to influence. 

This is much more difficult with marketing, because we don’t know specific names, we just have an idea of who we are speaking to. Often marketers call this a client avatar. 

If you do not understand your audience’s context, you will not be able to communicate effectively. 

Here are four key characteristics of effective communication.

  1. You need to have clarity on the topic you are communicating. When I say clarity, I mean being able to say your topic in 70 characters.
  2. You need to know your audience and offer a recommendation or call to action.
  3. You need to tell your audience why they (or the business) will have the advantage by following your recommendation.
  4. Your communication needs to be crystal clear, without the use of jargon or words that make you sound smart.

Remember, effective means you are going for a specific result. Communication is sharing important information.

If what you are sharing does not have a clear call to action, is not important, or does not change behavior, then it is not effective communication.

Simple Frameworks: Effective Communication Workbook