What Is Effective Communication at Work? (With Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 17, 2022

Published December 7, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Communication is an essential activity for achieving success at work and in your personal life. To ensure your message is valuable to a recipient, it's important you communicate effectively. Understanding what effective communication means and why it's important can help you improve your message and convey it better. In this article, we answer the question, "What is effective communication?", explain how it's different from efficient communication, explore its benefits, discuss effective communication skills, review how to improve communication at work, and show several examples.

What is effective communication in the workplace?

To answer the question, "What is effective communication?", you may consider the purpose of the information you want to convey and your audience. Effective communication means exchanging information in a way your intended recipient understands. It involves thoroughly conveying your message verbally or in writing. For example, speaking to an audience of children can differ from speaking with neurosurgeons. Communicating your message effectively may require you to use simple language with the children and technical terms with the neurosurgeons. To communicate effectively, you can aim to make your message the following way:

  • Practical: This condition involves exchanging logical information.

  • Factual: It involves providing accurate information.

  • Concise and clear: This element requires including only relevant details and simplifying the message.

  • Persuasive: This property involves providing supporting reasons and conclusions for the message and connecting with the recipient.

Related: 7 Ways to Communicate Effectively (Plus Benefits and Tips)

What is the difference between efficiency and effectiveness in communication?

Efficient communication is the ability to deliver a coherent message quickly. Its focus is more on the time information exchange occurs than on the communication strategy or style you may use. Effective communication occurs when you successfully deliver a valuable message to its intended recipient. Effective and efficient communication practices can be useful in your workplace. For example, suppose an industry change occurs during a workday. You can communicate this information effectively by explaining it to your teammates in a way they can understand, but you can also describe it efficiently by summarizing it in one minute.

Similarly, suppose you work at a health care establishment. You can effectively communicate a patient's medical condition to family members using nontechnical terms. And delivering a brief message shows efficient communication.

Benefits of effective communication

Here are the benefits you can receive by communicating effectively at work:

Improves productivity

Effective communication can help you understand your duties and responsibilities better. For example, if you're a pharmacist, it's typically easier to work productively if a doctor effectively communicates patient diagnoses. Exchanging information effectively can also help you gain more insights into expectations and desired outcomes.

Enhances client relations

Effective communication can help you develop and maintain professional relationships with clients and customers. Like other stakeholders, customers typically value companies that can clearly explain product or service benefits and updates and respond to information requests timely. For example, if you're a marketer, you can apply effective communication skills when advertising a product.

Encourages team building

Effective communication is an essential aspect of team building and development. You can apply this skill when providing constructive criticism and collaborating on a project. For example, if you work as part of a research team, it can help to explain your results and theories in a way your teammates understand. Your ability to listen actively and accept different perspectives can help others trust your contributions or decisions.

Helps resolve conflict

Applying effective communication can help you handle tense situations at work. Because occasional conflicts may arise due to misunderstandings, communicating effectively can help you prevent these issues. This skill can also be useful when managing, resolving, or mediating conflicts at work.

Increases team engagement

Communicating effectively can establish professional connections among team members and encourage innovation. It can also help management understand their team's needs, what motivates them, and how to celebrate their efforts. Improving team engagement can encourage open communication, where everyone can freely share their opinions, ideas, and feelings. Helping your teammates understand their responsibilities through effective communication can also motivate them to become more engaged in their daily tasks.

Creates a healthy work culture

Improved communication can establish trust across the company. This can help create an excellent reputation for your employer, attracting more clients and top talent. A positive work culture that involves effective communication can also encourage team members to continue in their positions.

What skills show you're an effective communicator?

Effective communication may require you to apply the following skills:

Active listening

Active listening is the ability to focus completely on a speaker to understand their message and respond thoughtfully. It can involve recognizing nonverbal cues, such as postures and gestures, and dealing with distractions while receiving a message. You can show your active listening skills by using open body language, such as nodding, maintaining eye contact, and providing affirmations.

Related: Active Listening Skills: A Key to Effective Communication in the Workplace

Adaptability

Adaptability is the ability to adjust to varying conditions at work. Team members typically have different communication styles, and you can show your adaptability by being flexible. For example, if you're communicating with your direct manager, it may be best to email or call them and use a professional tone. Similarly, if you're communicating with a colleague, you're more friendly with, you can send a text or meet them in person.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your emotions and those of others. It involves showing empathy, being self-aware, regulating your behaviour, and respecting your teammate's decisions. Effective communicators require this skill because conveying a message involves understanding how you feel and the way your recipient may interpret your message.

Open-mindedness

Open-mindedness is the quality of being receptive to different perspectives. If you're an effective communicator, you typically understand that team members may have different views on an issue. You can show you're open-minded by actively engaging with the message a speaker sends.

Related: How to Become an Effective Communicator

How to improve workplace communication

You can follow these steps to communicate information better to colleagues, coworkers, and subordinates:

1. Practise effective communication

You can observe your communication habits and methods and identify what to sustain or improve. For example, you can practise being more friendly and approachable to encourage people to discuss with you in person. You may also practise communication habits, such as asking thoughtful open-ended questions, providing helpful feedback, and maintaining eye contact.

Related: The Importance of Nonverbal Communication in the Workplace

2. Consider communication classes and workshops

If you're enthusiastic about learning how effective communication applies to your specific situation, consider online courses, workshops, and training programs. These programs typically include lessons, role-play, discussions, and practice sessions. You can evaluate the potential benefits of engaging in training programs to determine how to proceed.

3. Request honest feedback

As you become a more effective communicator, ask for constructive criticism from your colleagues, mentors, and manager. By doing this, you may evaluate your progress and identify areas for improvement. For example, you may ask your manager to give you feedback or grade your active listening skills.

4. Observe effective communicators

You may want to identify professionals, friends, and family members who communicate with respect, confidence, and empathy. Note the communication strategies and styles they use to see if you can apply them to your specific situation. For example, you may identify a better way to show you're approachable or learn how to balance speaking and listening.

Related: How to Improve Communication Skills

Examples of effective communication at work

Here are examples of effective communication in the workplace that show you the importance of conveying your message accordingly:

Example for a job candidate

This example highlights how an individual can demonstrate their ability to communicate effectively when applying for a job:

John applied for a teaching role and received an interview invitation. He showcased effective communication by clearly conveying his availability. During the session, the hiring manager asked specific questions about his experiences as a teacher and professional background. He used various effective communication skills to respond concisely and simplify educational information and teaching techniques for the hiring manager to understand.

Example for an entry-level professional

This example shows how a recent graduate can demonstrate effective communication skills in their role:

Brianna recently started her new role as a content creator. As she was still learning about her duties and the company's goals, she requested help from Cynthia, a senior colleague. Cynthia asked Brianna to explain what aspects she needed more clarity on in an email. Brianna applied her communication skills to use a professional tone and outline the duties and goals she wanted to understand better for Cynthia to consider how to help.

Example for a senior professional

This example highlights how a company executive can demonstrate effective communication skills in their role:

Liam is the director of communications at Ottawa Brown Inc. During a quarterly review with shareholders and other executives, he identified some company changes needed to ensure productivity. Liam shares the discussion points from the meeting in a memo for all employees to read at their convenience. He highlights the company's reasons for requesting workplace changes and ensures he explains all technical information in the section "Definition of terms."

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