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Workplace Communication Skills

By Jessica L. Mendes

Graphic designer. Warehouse worker. Dental assistant. Social worker. Brand ambassador.

Do you know what each of these people has in common? Communication skills are listed as a top qualification on ZipRecruiter job postings for all of these job titles.

Effective communication is essential to nearly every industry. After all, communication is universal. Everyone has to communicate, and people who communicate well are more likely to perform well in professional arenas. In fact, a proven ability to communicate clearly is more important to 91 percent of employers than a job candidate’s undergraduate major.

Whether you are looking to land your dream job or score that big promotion in your current career, practicing these key workplace communication skills could help you achieve your goal.

Get Comfortable Communicating

Mastering these vital workplace communication skills will serve you well in your career—regardless of your line of work. And these skills are not limited to the workplace. Being a confident communicator can be beneficial for your personal life, too. Practice your new speaking, writing, listening, and body language skills everywhere you go and see first-hand the difference that strong communication skills can make.

1. Active Listening

Active listening is the difference between hearing someone talk and actually listening to what they are saying. An active listener will concentrate on the speaker, seek to understand, respond, and then remember what was said.

Why It Matters At Work

People who practice active listening are better able to build rapport with others. Positive work relationships built on understanding and trust lead to higher engagement and increased productivity.

Active Listening Tips

Not sure if you are an active listener? During conversations with others, try doing these things:

  • Paraphrase what the speaker said to make sure you heard correctly and understood.

  • Use minimal encouragers like “Oh,” “I understand,” “Mm-hmm,” or “And then?”

  • Ask probing questions to go deeper into a topic and have a meaningful conversation.

2. Nonverbal Communication (Body Language)

To be a capable communicator, what you do not say is just as important as what you do say. Your body language speaks volumes about your confidence, openness, and approachability.

Why It Matters At Work

Who would you rather collaborate with on a big project: the easygoing, approachable person or the person who fidgets with their fingers and stares at their feet when you talk to them?

Chances are you would pick the friendly person to be on your team. Which person are you?

Proper body language will portray you as a collected and competent professional—the type of person your colleagues want on their team.

Nonverbal Communication Tips

  • Make eye contact, but do not stare. Staring makes people uncomfortable.

  • Maintain a relaxed, open stance—arms at your sides, not crossed over your chest.

  • Pay attention to the nonverbal signals of others.

3. Public Speaking

You do not have to be on the TED Talk circuit to benefit from public speaking skills. The ability to speak to an audience with poise and confidence will earn you the respect of your listeners.

Why It Matters At Work

Presentations, meetings, video conferences….At some point in your career, you will have to speak to a group of people. Your audience may be small or large, prospective clients or a team of colleagues. Maybe your audience is just one person—your boss—and you are pitching why you should get a raise this year.

Hone your public speaking skills to maximize the impact of your talk and inspire your audience to action.

Public Speaking Tips

  • Practice out loud in front of a mirror, or record yourself with your smartphone.

  • Speak with intention. Motivate your audience to take action toward your goal.

  • Smile. It will help you relax, and it will make you more relatable to your audience.

4. Verbal Communication

In person or on the phone, talking to others is a regular part of everyday life. Verbal communication is a fundamental part of self-expression.

Why It Matters At Work

The words you say—and how you say them—will influence people’s responsiveness and their perception of you. The ability to communicate your needs and ideas in a clear and compelling way will set you apart.

Verbal Communication Tips

  • Be concise. Get to the point. Going on and on will just cause people to lose interest.

  • Be clear. Leave out anything confusing or clarify it.

  • Be friendly. Use an earnest, sincere tone of voice.

5. Written Communication

Unlike in verbal communication, your tone and intent are not as clear in written communication. Conveying the proper tone, along with proper spelling and grammar, makes written communication is one of the hardest forms to master, and one of the most important.

Why It Matters At Work

Today’s workplace is full of written communication—email, instant messaging apps, and even social media. Your writing could be directed toward colleagues, clients, potential customers, or the worldwide general audience of the internet. And once it is published, written communication can be difficult—if not impossible—to correct or take back.

Written Communication Tips

  • Check for mistakes. Apps like Grammarly can help you correct spelling or usage errors.

  • Read it out loud. Hearing your written words is a way to find gaps or mistakes early on.

  • Make it appropriate to the audience. Some merit a formal tone, others can be casual.

Jessica L. Mendes

Jessica L. Mendes, a former contributor to ZipRecruiter, is a writer and professional reader providing author support, content creation, and curriculum design services. She writes for a range of industries, including education, employment, law, technology, medicine, sales, and corporate interior design. Connect with Jessica via LinkedIn or

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