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Communication skills: 10 tips for effective communication
Illustration by Maya Ramadhina

14 min read

Communication skills: 10 tips for effective communication

Improve your communication skills with these 10 tips for effective communication.

I’m sure most people assume they’re good communicators. The thing is, simply having the tools that make communication possible doesn’t mean you’re using them effectively. For example, give a random person a complex power tool that has precision controls and advanced features and is capable of performing a specialized task. It’s a pointless exercise if they don’t know how to use it.

Simply having the tools in-hand isn’t a guarantee of success.

Effective communication skills encompass much more than the mechanics of speaking and hearing. They refer to the abilities and competencies people use to convey information, ideas, feelings, and thoughts effectively and efficiently. This includes a wide range of verbal and nonverbal behaviors, as well as the ability to listen actively and understand the message being communicated.

Effective communication skills involve clarity, conciseness, and appropriateness when expressing thoughts and understanding the messages received from others. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that effective communication is critical in various aspects of life. It plays a vital role in personal, professional, and social contexts.

Let’s dig a little deeper into how effective communication skills can impact how your teams work together.

Tip 1: Active listening

There’s more to listening than you may think.

What is active listening?

Active listening is a communication skill that requires full focus and understanding. With that achieved, it’s time to respond to a speaker. 

Hearing and listening are not the same thing. Active listening goes beyond merely hearing the words — it also encompasses paying attention to the speaker’s tone, body language, and discerning any underlying emotions. When you demonstrate active listening, it conveys genuine interest in a conversation, and this can lead to trust and mutual understanding. Obviously, that’s going to be important in both personal and professional settings, as it encourages meaningful connections, helps resolve conflict, and enhances collaboration.

Benefits of active listening

Where there’s active listening, you can expect to find a supportive and positive communication environment. One where friends, family, or workmates have a deeper comprehension of a spoken message, meaning they can cultivate stronger relationships. Additionally, active listening contributes to the development of empathy, since it allows individuals to connect with the emotions and perspectives of others.

Techniques to improve active listening skills

There are several techniques that could help improve your active listening skills. Try maintaining eye contact to show you’re attentive to the speaker and provide both verbal and nonverbal cues to confirm you understand what’s being said. Requesting feedback—seeking clarification or asking for additional informatio —is another valuable technique.


  • Active Listening:
    • Involves full focus, understanding, and responsiveness to a speaker
    • Means paying attention to tone, body language, and any underlying emotions
    • Can foster trust, mutual understanding, and meaningful connections 
  • Techniques to improve active listening:
    • Maintain eye contact to show attentiveness
    • Provide verbal and nonverbal cues to confirm understanding
    • Seek feedback when necessary

Bring your people together

Tip 2: Nonverbal communication

The role of nonverbal communication:

Understanding the impact of nonverbal cues

Body language, including gestures, posture, and facial expressions, can communicate volumes about what someone is feeling. It can also provide clues to their intentions and level of engagement. 

Body language and facial expressions

Maintaining eye contact and using open body language can convey confidence and attentiveness, while crossed arms or an averted gaze may signal discomfort or disinterest. When collaboration, teamwork, and leadership are part of the day-to-day, being aware of nonverbal cues can significantly impact workplace dynamics and relationships.

Tips for improving nonverbal communication

Improving nonverbal communication involves a combination of self-awareness and intentional actions. Employees can enhance their body language by practicing good posture, using appropriate gestures to complement their speech, and adapting their facial expressions to match the context of the conversation. Also, try to remain attuned to the nonverbal cues of others and adjust your communication accordingly if necessary. 


  • The Impact
    • Maintaining eye contact and open body language conveys confidence and attentiveness
  • Body language and facial expressions
    • Crossed arms or in averted gaze may signal discomfort or disinterest
    • Can impact communication in the workplace
  • Tip for improving 
    • Practice good posture to convey confidence
    • Use appropriate gestures to complement speech
    • Adapt facial expressions to match the context of the conversation

Tip 3: Clarity and conciseness 

Time is money, don’t waste it.

The importance of clear and concise communication

Minutes often count in a professional setting, so you’ll often need to be able to convey messages in a clear and concise manner. It can help prevent misunderstandings, enhance collaboration, and ensure that tasks are done as you expected.

Mastering the art of clear and concise communication can contribute to streamlined processes, increased productivity, and a positive work environment.

Strategies for achieving clarity and conciseness

Try to employ strategies like organizing your thoughts before speaking, using straightforward language, and structuring messages logically.

Avoid jargon and complex language

Avoid unnecessary jargon or speaking in an overly complex way. It will promote understanding among diverse audiences and minimize the risk of confusion or misinterpretation.


  • Why it’s important 
    • It’s critical for effective workplace interactions
    • It prevents misunderstandings and enhances collaboration
  • Strategies 
    • Organize your thoughts before speaking
    • Use straightforward language
    • Structure your messages logically
  • Avoid jargon
    • It will promote understanding among diverse audiences 
    • Minimizes the risk of confusion or misinterpretation

Tip 4: Empathy and emotional intelligence

Feelings are important, whether you’re the communicator or the communicatee.

Understanding empathy in communication

If you’re wondering how to communicate effectively, pay attention to this. Empathy in communication involves the ability to recognize, understand, and share the feelings of others. When it comes to workplace communication, it’s a skill that can help promote a positive and supportive work environment. It allows employees to connect on a deeper level, which can lead to stronger interpersonal relationships and teamwork.

Developing emotional intelligence skills

Emotional intelligence includes self-awareness and the ability to manage your emotions. When it comes to navigating professional relationships and addressing conflicts constructively, it’s a necessary skill. 

Work on developing self-awareness by paying attention to your reactions in different situations. Manage your emotions by pausing before reacting in tense and potentially volatile situations. And try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes so that you can understand their perspective without being judgmental.

Tips for showing empathy in conversations

A great way to show effective communication in the workplace and good communication skills in general is to exhibit empathy in all your conversations. You can do this by practicing active listening, validating the emotions of your colleagues, and showing concern for their well-being.

Recognizing and acknowledging the feelings of others can foster a sense of understanding and collaboration, which will ultimately contribute to a more harmonious and productive workplace.


  • Understand empathy:
    • Recognize, understand, and share the feelings of others
  • Develop emotional intelligence:
    • This includes being self-aware and the ability to manage your emotions
  • Tips for showing empathy:
    • Practice active listening
    • Validate the emotions of your colleagues
    • Show genuine concern for others

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Tip 5: Effective questioning

There are no stupid questions — usually:

Types of questions for effective communication

There are several effective communication techniques, but perhaps one of the most important is effective questioning. It’s invaluable when it comes to facilitating communication and promoting understanding. Different types of questions have distinct purposes, including open-ended questions that encourage thoughtful responses and closed-ended questions that are looking for specific information.

Learning to use a combination of these question types can help leaders and team members gather comprehensive information.

Strategies for asking open-ended questions

Learn how to ask open-ended questions by framing your inquiries in a way that prompts detailed and reflective answers. Doing this helps encourage deeper insights and can promote collaboration.

Active listening in relation to effective questioning

When active listening and effective questioning are used in tandem, it creates a powerful synergy. On the one hand, active listening establishes a foundation of understanding as the listener fully engages with and comprehends the speaker’s message. On the other hand, using effective questioning enhances the depth of active listening by probing deeper into the topic being discussed and seeking clarification. Essentially, you create a feedback loop which helps to develop effective constructive communication.


  • Types of questions:
    • Open-ended questions that encourage thoughtful responses
    • Closed-ended questions that are asking for specific information
  • Strategies for open-ended questions:
    • Frame your questions in a way that prompts detailed responses
  • The relationship to active listening:
    • It’s not just in asking the right question, it also involves attentively processing and responding to the information provided

Tip 6: Feedback and constructive criticism

Criticism isn’t a bad word. In the workplace, constructive criticism is a fundamental aspect of professional development and effective communication.

Importance of giving and receiving feedback

As indicated above, feedback and constructive criticism can help contribute to a culture of continuous improvement. When delivered in a positive manner, it can motivate employees to improve their performance without causing unnecessary tension.

Provide constructive criticism in a positive manner

This is essential if you want to maintain good working relationships and encourage continuous improvement. When you create an environment where feedback is constructive, timely, and focused on growth it fosters a culture of openness and collaboration.

Techniques for offering helpful feedback

Try to frame your feedback in a constructive and specific manner, focusing on behavior or outcomes rather than making it personal. Try to provide a balanced perspective by starting off with positive aspects, highlighting someone’s strengths before addressing areas for improvement. And then give them actionable suggestions on how to make improvements, being sure to clearly communicate your support for their efforts.


  • Importance of feedback:
    • Contributes to a culture of continuous improvement
  • Be positive:
    • Remaining positive can motivate employees to enhance their performance and minimize workplace tension and conflict
  • Techniques:
    • Emphasize the positive aspects of someone’s work
    • Offer actionable suggestions for improvement

Tip 7: Adaptability and flexibility

The workforce continues to evolve. To remain effective, you’ll need to adapt.

Adapting communication style to different situations

The ability to adapt your communication style to fit different situations will allow for effective interactions — whether you’re addressing a diverse team, collaborating with different departments, or engaging with clients.

Flexibility in understanding diverse perspectives

Flexibility can help promote inclusivity and encourage a more comprehensive approach when it comes to problem-solving. When someone has a flexible mindset, they’re more likely to acknowledge the value of different viewpoints. Additionally, it encourages collaboration and strengthens interpersonal relationships as it signals respect for the insights and experiences of others.

Tips for improving adaptability and flexibility

Clearly, it’s important to adjust your communication strategies based on the needs of your audience. Some tips for honing these skills could include staying informed about industry trends, remaining receptive to feedback, and cultivating a mindset that embraces change and new ideas as an opportunity for growth.


  • Be adaptable:
    • It’s essential for success as it allows for effective interactions even in diverse situations
  • Be flexible:
    • This will promote inclusivity and provide a comprehensive approach to problem-solving
  • Tips:
    • Actively seek to understand the viewpoints of others, remaining open to new ideas and perspectives
    • Adjust your communication strategy based on the needs of your audience

Tip 8: Conflict resolution

Communicating poorly can create conflict—developing excellent communication skills can lead to conflict resolution.

Understanding the role of communication in conflict resolution

Effective communication enables colleagues who are involved in a conflict to express their perspectives, feelings, and concerns. It facilitates open and honest dialogue and encourages employees to express themselves in a respectful and constructive manner, ultimately creating an environment where issues can be addressed collaboratively.

Strategies for effective conflict resolution

Strategies for effective conflict resolution involve open and honest communication, identifying underlying issues, and using a collaborative approach to find solutions. Other than open communication and active listening, it’s important to clearly identify whatever issues are contributing to the conflict and then focus on root causes rather than symptoms.

Active listening and empathy in conflict resolution

Active listening allows involved parties to express their concerns and perspectives while promoting empathy and understanding. Being empathetic helps to contribute to a supportive atmosphere, which can facilitate the resolution of a conflict since parties will likely be more compassionate.


  • The role of communication:
    • If you want to a foster positive and productive workplace, it’s integral
  • Strategies:
    • Strive for open and honest communication, being sure to identify the underlying issues and then seeking a collaborative approach to find a solution
  • Be empathetic:
    • Empathy contributes to a supportive atmosphere and facilitates resolution

Tip 9: Cultural awareness

We’re all unique.

Importance of cultural awareness in communication

it’s not that difficult to understand that as individuals, we all have our own communication styles. But it’s also necessary to understand that people from different cultural backgrounds may also have very distinct communication styles, not to mention values and norms. To establish effective communication in your workplace, it’s imperative that you recognize this aspect of diversity.

Respecting cultural differences and norms

An inclusive workplace culture will mean respecting cultural differences. If you make it your goal to embrace cultural awareness in your organization, it will not only enhance communication but also promote collaboration and teamwork among colleagues from various cultural backgrounds.

Tips for developing cultural sensitivity

Try to be open and sensitive to different cultures, actively seeking to understand their diverse perspectives while avoiding assumptions that are based on cultural stereotypes. If necessary, make diversity training available and encourage open dialogue about cultural differences while remaining mindful of language choices and ensuring inclusive communication.


  • The importance of awareness:
    • It’s crucial in today’s diverse and globalized workplace and enhances communication, collaboration, and teamwork
  • Respect cultural differences:
    • Recognize that each culture may come with distinct communication styles, values, and norms
  • Tips:
    • Be open to learning about different cultures
    • Actively listen to understand different and diverse perspectives
    • Avoid assumptions that are based on cultural stereotypes

Tip 10: Practice and continuous improvement

We aren’t born with the ability to verbally communicate. Not surprisingly, learning effective communication skills in the workplace also has a learning curve that requires practice.

The role of practice in improving communication skills

Leaders need to understand that practice will be required when trying to enhance communication skills. Effective communication is a skill that can be refined and developed over time, but it takes consistent practice to become proficient.

 Continuous learning and self-improvement

Continuous learning and self-improvement will be essential components when trying to refine communication skills. This involves seeking feedback, staying informed about industry trends, and actively seeking out opportunities for professional development.

 Resources and tools for practicing communication skills

Considering the importance of effective communication skills, it’s no surprise there’s an abundance of resources and tools available, including workshops, seminars, online courses, and mentorship programs. Each of these will offer structured approaches to learning and provide valuable insights and strategies to help leaders and employees improve their communication effectiveness.


  • The Importance of practice:
    • Practice will enhance your proficiency whether you’re in a team meeting, giving a presentation, or any other workplace interaction
  • Continuous learning:
    • Learn to actively seek feedback and pursue opportunities for professional development
  • Resources:
    • Workshops, seminars, online courses, mentorship programs


Effective communication skills encompass more than you may initially realize. To recap, we addressed the following 10 areas:

  • Active listening
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Clarity and conciseness
  • Empathy and emotional intelligence
  • Effective questioning
  • Feedback and constructive criticism
  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Conflict resolution
  • Cultural awareness
  • Practice and continuous improvement

At home or at work, try to incorporate these tips into your daily interactions. If you do, you’ll find that you’re better equipped to build strong relationships and navigate conflicts. But remember, it’s an ongoing process, and you’ll need to practice. View each interaction as an opportunity to apply and sharpen your communication skills at work and at home.


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Elle Holder

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