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Keys to Communication

Why is communication key in the workplace? It's essential because it can boost employee and team morale, engagement, productivity, and satisfaction. Communication is also essential for better team collaboration, cooperation, and support. Being in an open environment that instills trust has the potential to create better outcomes for individuals, teams, and organizations. We often hear the phrase, "Teamwork makes dream work." Well, it's actually true, if the right members are onboard.

Ken Blanchard, Ph.D., co-author of The One Minute Manager always shares great interpersonal communication information. Over the years I have learned a lot from his materials that led to the creation of Promotions West, my public relations and marketing consulting firm. Here are a few golden nuggets that may improve overall communications within a firm or business.

Communication Roundabout is a model for understanding how communication works. All connections start with a sender. The sender chooses the avenue to send a message through for a recipient to interpret. The recipient responds with a reply.

Communication is a process by which information is exchanged between people through a common system of language, symbols, signs, or behavior.

The Roundabout is a breakdown of the process by which people exchange information and details on a specific topic.

Interpretation is the process of a sender converting ideas into a set of symbols or language for the recipient of the message.

Decipher is the process of the recipient taking those symbols or language and converting them into an idea.

Avenue/Media is the technique by which the message is delivered, e.g., writing, video, audio, phone call, social media, text message, social listening, photography, infographics, or storytelling.

One of the biggest communication mistakes is not clarifying intentions. It's important to describe what you want from the person you are attempting to communicate with and hopefully build a trusting relationship. Often the message may be perceived as confusing. It's essential to customize messages for your audience and understand what is being brought into the message. When dealing with clients, we always structure our conversation based on what we would like to hear. Often, we conduct role-playing exercises with secret 'devil' advocates to push the right buttons that make our team think outside of the box.

Do you ever think about the tone, timing, and words that you will present? A key part of communication is selecting the right tone, and timing, that works for one's communication. Honest communication is always the best policy. It's quite easy to detect when someone is faking or trying to blow wind up your skirt.

Active listening is a valuable skill. According to Stephen Covey, "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply." This can lead to disaster. Active listening is a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding. It's an important first step to defusing the situation and seeking solutions to problems. Listening is one of the most important skills you can have. How well you listen has a major impact on your job effectiveness and on the quality of your relationships with others.

Here are 5 active listening techniques. They all will help to ensure that you hear the other person, and that the other person knows you are listening to what they say.

  • Pay attention. Give the speaker your undivided attention and acknowledge the message.

  • Show that you are listening.

  • Provide feedback.

  • Ask open-ended questions.

  • Defer judgment.

  • Respond appropriately.

Lastly, be aware of non-verbal cues when communicating. Remember to monitor both the tone of your voice and other non-verbal cues. By being a good listener, you will learn to be more observant and aware. Often, people will share more information through their non-verbal body movements and expressions.

Remember, understanding your own personal style of communicating will go a long way toward helping to create good and lasting impressions and relationships with others.

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