89% of people say communication is extremely important at work.

Unsurprising, right? We all know that communication is key.

But 80% of people also rate communication at their own company as average or poor.

So, that begs the question, why are we so bad at something we all agree is important? 

The answer might lie in whether or not we’re communicating effectively. 

Not all communication is created equal. There’s plenty of effective communication out there, to be sure, but there’s also a lot of really bad communication.

We think effective communication is possible for everyone, so we’re here to walk you through what it is and how to cultivate it in your workplace.

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What is effective communication?

In the simplest terms, effective communication is anything that accomplishes what you set out to communicate.

And, like anything, there are some common qualities and skills that contribute to being able to communicate effectively — especially in the workplace.

These elements apply whether you’re trying to make sure your team is on the same page about what tasks are due this week or explaining a complex product feature to a client.

What are some qualities of effective communication?

If you’ve ever taken a business communications course — or even if you’ve just done some Googling to figure out how to build up your communication skills — you might have come across the 5 C’s of communication. 

There’s not a definitive list of the 5 C’s — and some lists have more or less than 5 — but among them, you’ll find some shared qualities of effective communication that are really important.

How important? Well, 80% of employees report feeling stressed because of ineffective communication at work. So we’d say developing these qualities is pretty important for your business.

Here are some of the top qualities of good communication:

  • Clear: it should be obvious what you are trying to convey and why.
  • Concise: don’t use 100 words when you could use 50.
  • Concrete: give specific actions and outcomes that you want to see due to your communication.
  • Complete: be sure you’re including everything that is necessary to understand your point.
  • Courteous: use a polite, gentle tone in every situation.

Some lists will also include qualities like being coherent or correct — in other words, having understandable and accurate information.

You can’t translate these qualities into a checklist of repeatable action items, though. You’ll have to figure out how these qualities apply, depending on each situation you’re in.

What are the most important effective communication skills?

When it comes to determining important communication skills, a lot of people might jump to hard skills — things like writing, editing, social media, or even email management.

But for communication, soft skills are far more important.

In fact, 92% of hiring managers say soft skills are critical for good hires. You can teach someone how to send an email, but it’s much harder to teach them to be polite.

Here are some of the most important communication skills to develop:

  • Active listening: communication isn’t just talking. Active listening helps you understand what people are missing and how you can help them fill in the gaps.
  • Stress and emotion management: if you’re a great communicator, except when you’re really stressed, then you might not actually be a great communicator. Knowing how to manage your emotions no matter what helps you be clear and courteous in any communication situation.
  • Open-mindedness: this one is especially important if you lead a team or manage projects. Be open to new ideas and perspectives, and let them impact your work when it’s a good fit.
  • Confidence: a lack of confidence is a top cause of poor communication, because people pick up on it even if they can’t quite name it. Being confident gives people a reason to trust you, so they’ll glean more of what you’re saying.
  • Responsiveness: if you’re only saying what you want to say and not reacting to others, your credibility can crumble quickly. Be ready to alter the flow of your communication in real-time to most effectively convey your point.

These skills form the baseline for effective communication. Other skills, like knowing the right tools to use, are more easily put into a workflow or process to make sure everyone does them similarly.

But managing your own stress and being open to new ideas is a lot more personal, and something each team member will need to work on individually.

How can I foster effective communication at work?

Knowing the qualities and skills that lead to effective communication is one thing. But if you don’t embody those already, how can you get there?

Or maybe you’re wondering how to help your entire team, department, or organization foster effective communication in the workplace.

No matter what your goal, following these tips and strategies will bring you a lot closer toward seeing those effective communication skills in action.

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Get the right workplace communication tools.

50 years ago, you would have had to rely entirely on verbal communication to convey information effectively.

OK, maybe written communication too, and some nonverbal cues for good measure.

Today, however, collaboration software and other online tools make it so much easier to make sure you embody the principles of effective workplace communication.

Seriously — 71% of people who use an online tool like project management or collaboration software say it’s easy to see work status, but only 52% of people who use paper lists or email say the same.

Collaboration tools give you a framework for making sure workplace communication is clear, concise, complete, and all those other good things.

You want a tool that integrates communication into project management, tasks, or other operations through chat, comments, or integrations.

Comments in monday.com projects

For example, a Work OS like monday.com Integrates with Slack, Zoom, and other communication tools. Chats and comments can be turned into concrete workflows or actions, so nothing slips through the cracks.

Online platforms can also provide a single source of truth to provide correct information to anyone involved with a project. Because of this capability, people who use online tools are 2 times as likely to say communication and efficiency is excellent.

Know your audience.

As we mentioned before, not all good communication will look the same, even if it all follows the same qualities.

You’ll need a different effective communication strategy, depending on who you’re talking to. In fact, you might need several different strategies in the workplace — one for coworkers, one for clients, and one for executives.

For example, jargon can clutter up communication if you’re talking to people who aren’t familiar with it.

So, if you’re an IT whiz trying to explain a complicated computer concept to the CEO or a junior marketing assistant, you’ll need to use simpler terms to say what you mean.

If you’re talking to a fellow IT worker, however, jargon is probably the easiest way to communicate.

Knowing your audience becomes even more important when it comes to clients — especially when you consider that 96% of people think businesses can improve their communications.

If you work with the same clients regularly, you probably already have an idea of how you can communicate best with each one. Maybe a certain client prefers short, snappy bullet points, while another wants to have the full context of any topic.

In client-based work, a CRM like monday.com can help everyone on your team keep track of how to best communicate with your clients.

monday.com sales CRM template

When in doubt, go back to basics. Think about the end goal of your communication, and err on the side of being as clear, concise, and courteous as possible.

Encourage an open environment.

But 34% of workers say companies don’t value their ideas, and that percentage is even higher among junior workers.

If that’s the case in your office, you can do a lot to encourage an open team environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing feedback, constructive criticism, and new ideas.

The best way to start doing this is to demonstrate it yourself.

Regularly ask for and offer feedback, both good and bad. Host brainstorming sessions or town hall meetings where everyone can have their say.

Make sure you listen and respond to the comments, ideas, and feedback you hear.

Remember our list of strong communication skills? This is where active listening and responsiveness comes in.

Another way to foster the kind of environment where good communication thrives is to be as transparent as possible with as much as you can. Share your thought process on key decisions, and give people access to project information.

A shared calendar or project management platform can go a long way toward helping your team feel like they are in an open environment where everyone clearly communicates about their work.

monday.com timeline view for projects

If you have a closed environment right now, it might take a while to see the rewards of an open and transparent workplace.

But eventually, team members will be comfortable asking questions or speaking up if something isn’t going right.

Don’t forget about non-verbal communication.

We’ve all received a text that just says “OK,” leaving us to wonder exactly what tone the sender meant.

That wondering comes from a lack of non-verbal cues that help us understand the nuance of what the sender means.

Non-verbal communication, which includes both tone and body language, make up a huge part of how we communicate. There are a dozen different guesses as to the exact percentage of communication that is non-verbal, but the point is: it’s a lot.

Because of this, communicating face-to-face is often most effective. We know — everyone hates meetings. But a good meeting can actually be far more effective than an email, especially when dealing with complex or difficult topics.

When face-to-face isn’t possible — because of distance, time constraints, or a global pandemic — phone or video calls are still better than email or IM.

Any nonverbal communication you’re able to get across will go a long way toward effective communication.

Of course, there really are plenty of meetings and conversations that could have been an email. When you use written communication, being clear and concise becomes even more important.

To help your written communication be more effective, use good formatting. Bullet points, subheadings, boldface, and more can all work as “nonverbal cues” in your writing.

Plan your communication as much as possible.

How often do you plan your workplace communication?

Chances are, you probably don’t have an effective communication strategy that often.

You’re busy, you think it’s just a quick meeting so you don’t need to plan, and then…your team feels frustrated as a result of poor communication around projects.

Planning your communication isn’t just about avoiding staff frustrations, although that is an important benefit. It’s also about safety and the overall financial health of your company.

36% of employees said they have ended up in an unsafe situation due to poor communication, while 52% have witnessed poor financial outcomes, like lost sales.

With a little planning, you can avoid these hazards in your business.

Effective communication planning can range from having a high-level plan for all communications that need to go out, to something as simple as writing a few key points for your next client call.

monday.com master plan template

Planning and reviewing what you’re going to say helps you communicate more clearly and completely, because you won’t forget anything.

You can say everything you mean, exactly as you mean it.

That means you’ll be able to check your communication against the qualities of effective communication to make sure that you’re hitting the mark ahead of time, rather than realize later that nobody understood what you meant.

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How a platform like monday.com cultivates effective communication

The most effective communication is the communication that gets everyone on the same page. Since monday.com is a single source of truth for all of your business operations, it’s a platform with a big impact on your team’s communication.

monday.com is a Work OS that encompasses everything from project and task management to CRM, sales, and software development. Because it’s in a single platform, it’s much easier to cultivate transparency across teams and departments.

You can Integrate Slack, Zoom, and other communication tools into your monday.com account, so there’s no switching between applications to find information. Chat messages and the like can be turned into tasks and actions immediately, so nothing falls through the cracks.

Automations help take your communications reach new levels. You can set rules so that certain people are notified when tasks are completed, so they can start their own tasks, or you can keep tabs on project progress.

These automations reduce errors surrounding who is assigned to what along with understanding what the next step of the project is. If you have an effective communication strategy in place, monday.com can help you Automate parts of it to make it even more effective.

monday.com is flexible and adaptable for teams of any size, any specialty, and any location — even if you’re a remote team scattered across the world.

Any team can create custom apps and workflows that fit with their processes.

monday.com template library

Our Workflow templates have options for everyone from the solo freelancer to the enterprise software development team — and every step along the way.

monday.com grows and scales along with you.

Because it works for any team, monday.com is a great way to get your entire business on the same page.

If you’re running complex projects involving multiple teams, there’s no need to juggle multiple communication or project management platforms too. Everyone can create what they need in just one place.

Start communicating more effectively now

Effective communication improves productivity and efficiency, which means it’s critical to your bottom line. And it’s not all about finances either — employee morale and even safety are on the line too.

A platform like monday.com can help you cultivate an environment where effective communication is the norm.

As a single source of truth for all your business operations, it can improve transparency, efficiency, and productivity — all with effective communication at its core.

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