Good communication skills are fundamental to a positive work environment, but writing “Kind Regards” at the end of emails isn’t enough. Effective professional communication extends past common courtesy and is essential for team building, leadership skills, and working toward shared goals. CEOs, interns, and everyone in between need to know how to communicate professionally and effectively in the workplace to succeed.
We’ve compiled some tips to help you boost your professional communication in the office and to facilitate clearer communication and a better understanding among your colleagues.
What is professional communication?
Professional communication refers to speaking, listening, and writing to deliver accurate and complete messages at work and in other professional settings. It doesn’t matter if your workspace is in-person or remote; professional communication is vital to the health of your workplace and maintaining professional relationships. Whether you exclusively use emails and social media or converse face-to-face, when you’re at work, interacting with clients, and networking, you should use professional communication to engage with others.
This communication style focuses on interacting with professional audiences, including supervisors, employees, and clients. Communication could be through countless forms, like presentations, reports, memos, emails, and phone calls.
So, what is the purpose of professional communication? The most important part of great professional communication is providing context. In professional settings, it's important to be clear and concise while providing all the necessary details for others to fully understand. We should always minimize miscommunication and potential misunderstandings to the best of our abilities.
Now that we’ve covered what professional communication is, what does it look like when we employ it in the workplace?
What does effective professional communication look like?
Professional communication involves particular characteristics for both face-to-face and online interactions in ongoing conversation between engaged parties.
And, of course, it’s crucial for coaches; this communication style is just one of many we have at our disposal.
Here are some techniques to improve professional communication:
- Become an active listener. This is a particularly effective communication strategy for face-to-face communication. We’ll want to maintain eye contact with the speaker and watch their body language, facial expressions, and nonverbal communication. To show we’re listening, we can repeat what they’ve said and follow up with clarifying questions. We demonstrate good communication skills when we respond and reflect (also known as mirroring), as it lets our conversation partner know we’re engaged.
- Consider your audience. No matter what setting we’re in, we should always consider our audience and appropriate types of communication. When striving toward better communication, we should consider whether our audience needs more context. Do all our team members have access to the same information and details as ourselves? If not, we should provide them with the necessary information and catch them up to speed.
- Ask important questions. This communication habit demonstrates to the speaker we’re actively listening and engaged in the conversation and allows them to share more information to resolve any misunderstandings. Clear communication leads to productive back-and-forth between two or more parties, so we should always clarify and ask questions.
- Get your timing right. Poor communication is often a result of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. If we constantly interrupt others, it implies we don’t care about what the speaker has to say, or we’re not really listening because we’re more focused on our responses. We should leave questions until the end when possible and recognize the wrong time to interject.
- Pay attention to nonverbal cues. Messages fall short if we don’t consider the language we’re using or provide nonverbal cues and reflect our message through tone of voice. By paying attention to these clues, we demonstrate effective workplace communication and help our team better understand us.
Professional communication isn’t always easy, but we should focus on being active participants in conversations, whether we’re speaking or listening. By improving our workplace communication, we’re more likely to succeed, improve our teamwork skills, and achieve further professional development.
Why is professional communication important?
Working in an environment that values and practices effective professional communication has many benefits. For example, this might encourage:
- Higher engagement. When effective communication skills are put front and center, teamwork improves due to better understanding. This is extremely helpful for employee engagement during webinars and team meetings to ensure everyone is present and on the same page with the same goals in mind.
- Trust and transparency. When communication tools are widely available and easily accessible, miscommunication decreases and employees are more likely to voice their questions, concerns, and opinions. This creates a supportive work environment where individuals feel heard.
- Objective and efficient problem-solving. For any sort of initiative requiring collaboration and teamwork, open communication channels are paramount to a team’s success.
- Better teamwork. When great communication skills are the norm, employees are more likely to be key contributors and strive to reach company objectives.
- More honest and frequent feedback. Feedback is invaluable for team building and creating a culture of constructive peer-to-peer criticism. This, in turn, reinforces a team’s trust and willingness to communicate with each other.
Understanding the value of professional communication is the first step to implementing it into our professional lives. How can we use this communication style in our offices?
4 tips to develop appropriate professional communication
As with every other skill, the key to mastering effective professional communication is practice. Here are four tips for practicing professional communication in the workplace:
1. Be proactive in meetings
There’s nothing worse than pouring your heart out delivering a presentation to a room full of people and not receiving any feedback or response. We can combat awkward office situations like this by taking the initiative and speaking whenever the microphone is open. Actively listening to others allows us to respond accurately and thoughtfully.
By leading conversations, we can inspire our more timid and introverted colleagues to do the same. If our office environment doesn’t usually encourage employees to speak up, we can ask and invite others to do so if we’re already taking steps to improve our professional communication.
2. Pay attention to body language
Non-verbal cues and facial expressions are great indicators to further understanding our conversation partner’s thoughts and feelings. They give us clues about whether it’s the appropriate time to bring up difficult subjects or if it’s a good idea to save constructive criticism for later.
Similarly, we can encourage better communication by keeping our body language open, friendly, and inviting. Instead of crossing our arms and turning away from a fellow colleague, we can smile, maintain eye contact, and turn towards them to indicate we’re engaged.
3. Ask for feedback
In a professional environment, feedback is one of the best tools for developing self-awareness, setting professional goals, and improving our performance. When a colleague has done something well, don’t be afraid to congratulate them. When someone has dropped the ball, we should also be honest and communicate what went wrong while keeping the feedback actionable and constructive rather than resorting to personal attacks.
4. Engage with your teammates and office companions
We spend the majority of our week with our colleagues, so we should try to form good relationships with them, even outside of work. When we have time for a break, we can talk about more casual topics or take the initiative to plan social events. This type of casual conversation will help us learn about our team members as people, not just coworkers. Healthier interpersonal working relationships motivate us to collaborate, communicate, and perform better.
Improve your professional communication with Practice
Employees within every level of a company benefit from improving their professional communication skills. Good communication promotes positive company culture and professional development. Whether we’re crafting a presentation, writing a business document, or even just having a chat with a fellow colleague, good communication can make or break the experience.
At Practice, we know communication can be difficult, and we’re here to help. Try our all-in-one client relationship management app today to streamline your customer relationships.