How to Develop & Improve Communication Skills in the Workplace

Dive into actionable tips, real-life scenarios, and expert insights to elevate your managerial communication skills and foster a harmonious work environment.



As a manager, your relationship with employees has a direct correlation to their retention. Those who build positive relationships are more likely to have employees with higher rates of morale, productivity, and engagement.

One of the primary keys to building positive relationships is through communication.

It's essential to understand the profound impact of effective communication. A manager's relationship with their employees directly influences retention rates. Positive relationships fostered through clear communication, lead to heightened morale, better productivity, and increased engagement.

In contrast, poor communication can lead to misunderstandings, decreased morale, and higher turnover rates.

Whether you’re a new manager or an experienced pro, here are some great tips to assess and improve your communication skills.

12 Tips to Improving Communication Skills in the Workplace

1. Be kind

Empathy is key. Recognize that both you and your employees are humans with emotions, needs, and personal lives. Use your position of authority to support, not overshadow.

2. Talk (and listen) professionally

Practice active listening. Tactfully watch what you say and how you say it. Engage in conversations wholeheartedly. Remember, effective communication is a two-way street. Listen more than you speak, and ensure every employee feels heard.

3. Use proper grammar

Articulate with clarity. In our digital age, it's tempting to use shorthand. However, taking the time to use proper grammar and complete sentences showcases respect and professionalism. Is it more meaningful to receive a text that says, “Happy Birthday!” or “HBD”? Although texting is a time saver, take the extra seconds to type out the word and add a period here and there.

4. Keep emotions in check

Develop emotional intelligence communication. Difficult conversations are inevitable. Approach them with calmness, taking moments to breathe and think before responding. Take a few seconds to breathe and regroup before opening back up in a difficult conversation. Silence is not a bad thing.

5. Choose your words wisely

Choose words with precision. Every word carries weight. Whether spoken or written, ensure your words reflect your intent without room for misinterpretation. There’s no auto-correct, undo, or rewind for your spoken words. Be careful about what comes out of your mouth --- and ensure your written words aren’t something you’ll regret next week.

6. Avoid being vulgar and crude

Maintain professionalism. The workplace isn't the place for crude language. Uphold a level of decorum in your language to maintain respect. Everyone knows words that may be considered offensive. Those words don’t belong at work and may dampen your level of respect. Keep it clean.

7. Notice your body language

Watch your nonverbal communication. Often, it's not what you say, but how you say it. Be conscious of your body language, facial expressions, and tone. Your body language is usually louder than your words, so keep your facial expressions, posture, and eye contact in check.

8. Be real

Authenticity matters. No one has all the answers. It's okay to admit when you're unsure about something. This honesty builds trust.

Don’t pretend to be a know-it-all; even Google gets things wrong occasionally. When you don’t know the answer, respond with, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out and get back to you.” Then be sure to follow up with the answer.

9. Speak clearly and directly

Choose clarity over ambiguity. Especially in a diverse workplace, ensure your instructions are clear and devoid of jargon. Set clear expectations and deadlines.

When in conversation, talk at a pace the other person can understand. If English isn’t their first language, don’t talk louder; talk slower. Use words they will relate to and avoid using ambiguous phrases that allow for wiggle room.

For example, if a project has a deadline, don’t tell the employee to do it “as soon as possible” --- give them a specific time to have it completed.

10. Remain confidential

Guard confidentiality. Trust is easily broken when confidential information is shared. Ensure sensitive topics remain private.

There are plenty of things you should not share with employees, such as a worker’s health condition, why an employee needs extra time off, or the verbal beating you just took from your boss. If it’s not something that can be shared at a company meeting, think twice before saying it.

11. Be aware of timing

Timeliness in feedback is key. Address concerns promptly. Whether it's praise or constructive feedback, timely communication is impactful.

If your employee makes a mistake, tactfully address it immediately and in private to avoid humiliating them in front of others. When they do something great, let them know right away! Any delays in communication make the message less impactful and oftentimes cause confusion. (“What did I do to earn this?”)

12. Remember: you’re a manager

Balance professional and personal. While camaraderie is essential, remember your primary role as a manager. Ensure professional boundaries are maintained.

While you may be friends with employees, your relationship at work needs to reflect your management position. Resist having personal conversations or spending more time with your “favorites” than others. Everything will be noticed by other employees and could be misinterpreted.

Real-life Scenario: The Power of Listening

Consider this: An employee approaches you with a concern. Instead of immediately offering a solution, you choose to listen actively, asking open-ended questions to understand better. This approach not only provides clarity but also makes the employee feel valued and heard.

Be the reason an employee chooses to stay. Take time to review and refine your communication skills and watch its ripple effects in both your personal and workplace relationships.

Developing good communication skills is an ongoing journey. As the corporate landscape evolves, so should your approach to communication. By implementing these tips and regularly reflecting on your communication style, you can foster a positive, productive, and harmonious workplace environment.

We Can Help You Develop an Effective Workplace Communication Strategy

With years of expertise in fostering positive employer-employee relationships, we understand the nuances and intricacies of effective communication. Our team of certified HR experts specializes in guiding managers and leaders, like you, to communicate effectively, ensuring a harmonious and productive work environment.

For more in-depth insights and personalized guidance on enhancing workplace communication, reach out to our certified HR experts today!

Not a current Stratus HR client? Book a free consultation and our team will contact you shortly.

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