50+ communication skills for the workplace & your resume

50+ communication skills for the workplace & your resume
SEEK content teamupdated on 05 September, 2023
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It helps to be able to communicate effectively with those around you. Not only can this help to create better and happier workplaces and stronger relationships with colleagues, but it can also be effective when speaking with customers, clients, patients, or family. 

But there’s much more to communication than simply speaking with people. The art of communication can be broken down into dozens of individual aspects, from the way you move your hands, your listening abilities, tone of voice, ability to deliver feedback and criticism, and conflict resolution skills, too. 

Those who wish to improve their communication skills and understand how to communicate effectively in the workplace need to take the time to work on the individual skills and aspects that may be lacking in their approach. And even skilled speakers and effective communicators can benefit from practise and improvement in certain areas. 

Below, we’ll take a look at dozens of unique workplace communication skills, explaining what each one means and sharing some tips and tricks to help you improve. 

Communication skills in the workplace 

When we talk about ‘communication skills’ this term simply refers to the many skills and abilities that are involved in exchanging information with other people. It’s all about how you interact with others. The most obvious example is through speech, but communication can also take written and nonverbal forms. 

All of those different forms of communication are important in the workplace and can play a part in helping you reach your career goals and get ahead professionally, as well as helping your company or organisation reach its goals and objectives, too. For example, clear communication regarding a company’s strategy or in management can help to boost productivity and improve worker morale. 

At the same time, poor quality communication can have negative effects both on individuals and the workplace as a whole. Workplace morale and productivity can suffer when messages aren’t delivered clearly and miscommunications occur. Individual workers can struggle to move on in their careers without effective communication skills. 

Understanding different communication styles 

There isn’t just one communication style. In fact, there are many, and you can meet all sorts of people who will have different ways of communicating. There are some who communicate much more outwardly than others, expressing themselves more via body language and gestures than speech. Others will be more assertive with their communication skills. 

It’s important for you to be able to adapt your communication approach and style to suit the situation. In fact, a big part of how to communicate effectively at work is to be able to identify other ways of communicating from the people you encounter and then adjust your own approach to get through to them more efficiently. 

Identifying and managing different communication styles at work isn’t always easy, but practice, repetition, and trial and error are key processes to help you improve. It will take time, as communication improvement is a lifelong process, but active listening and regular practice will help anyone get better at communicating with others. 

Verbal communication skills  

Verbal communication skills are the skills you use when you speak with other people. These are some of the most important skills for good communication at work, as so much communication between colleagues happens through speech. 

Articulation and pronunciation 

Articulation is about the manner in which a person speaks and how they say the individual syllables of the words they use, while pronunciation is more focused on the correct and proper way of saying certain words. Having strong articulation and clear pronunciation can help to make you a more confident speaker.  

Various online tools and resources can help you learn the proper way of pronouncing difficult words, and if you find you have trouble with articulation, speaking more slowly is a good way to get around it. 

Tone of voice 

Tone of voice concerns the way in which words are spoken or delivered. By speaking in certain ways, emphasising certain syllables, speaking at different volumes, or using a higher or lower tone, we can convey very different feelings and have totally different impressions on our audience. It’s important to adjust your tone of voice to suit each situation, with friendly tones when conversing with colleagues and more professional, respectful tones when speaking with clients or bosses. 

Active listening 

Active listening is not just listening to what someone is saying, but concentrating on the words, the tone, and the message they’re trying to share. Active listening can help you learn so much more about what a person is saying, giving you more information to formulate an appropriate response.  

One way to work on this is to listen more closely in future conversations and put yourself in the other person’s position, thinking about how and why they chose certain words or speak in a particular tone. 

Empathy 

Empathy is all about understanding other people and being able to see where they’re coming from. It’s one of the most effective communication skills that can help with conflict resolution and negotiation. To work on this, it’s important to take time to put yourself in someone else’s position. Try to imagine what it’s like in their place and develop your understanding and compassion for them. 

Clarity and conciseness 

Clarity is all about being clear and to-the-point in your verbal communication, while conciseness is about keeping your communication short and effective. Both of these communication skills can be invaluable in the workplace. Without clarity, people might not understand what you want to say.  

And without conciseness, you may waste time with unnecessarily wordy and confusing messages. Try to get in the habit of saying only the most important things, cutting out any unnecessary content to make your messages sharper and more direct. 

Confidence 

Confidence is another huge part of verbal communication, and confident people tend to be better communicators all around. When you’re confident, it’s easier to speak clearly, to articulate your words, to listen and understand others, and to get your message across to the people you speak with. Confidence can be tricky for those who are naturally shy or anxious, but there are ways to improve your self-belief. 

Assertiveness 

Assertiveness is about remaining firm in your ideas and getting your points across without being interrupted, overwhelmed, or coerced. This often goes hand-in-hand with confidence, and confident speakers also tend to be quite assertive.  

Assertiveness can also be really useful for situations like negotiation and resolving conflicts. To improve your assertiveness, try to get into the habit of defending your ideas, rather than backing down or changing your mind too easily. 

Humour 

Humour is all about being able to make people laugh and smile, lightening the mood or easing the tension. This can be useful when delivering criticism or feedback to a colleague, for example, or when giving speeches or resolving conflicts.  

Knowing how and when to use humour is key for effective communication in the workplace. Be mindful, listen actively to those around you, and read the mood of the room or situation to determine the best moments for a bit of humour. 

Non-verbal communication skills  

Along with verbal skills, there are also nonverbal communication skills. These skills allow people to communicate to others without speaking, simply through expressions of their face, body language, hand gestures, and so on. Here are some nonverbal communication skills examples: 

Body language 

Body language is simply the way we express ourselves with our bodies. It can include the way we sit or stand, how we hold ourselves, the way we walk, whether or not we keep eye contact with people when speaking with them, and so on. Body language can say so much about a person’s mood and mental state, and you may inadvertently give off an impression of being disinterested purely through bodily gestures or posture. You can work on this by being more mindful and aware of your body and make active choices to sit up straight and keep eye contact. 

Eye contact 

As stated above, eye contact is a big part of body language and nonverbal communication skills. When someone keeps eye contact with us, we tend to feel that person is more engaged with conversation or more interested in what we have to say when compared to someone who is looking down at their feet or off into the distance. It can be tricky for naturally shy people to maintain eye contact, but this is something you can actively practise and improve. 

Facial expressions 

A person’s face and expressions can also say a lot about their mood and how they’re feeling. Smiles, frowns, and furrowed brows all denote different emotions, and some people don’t even notice some of the expressions they make during a conversation or how those expressions might be interpreted. Again, mindfulness and actively considering your facial movements is key to improving in this area. As you become more aware of your facial expressions, you can use them to have better and more effective conversations. 

Posture 

Posture is how we sit and stand. A person with poor posture may hunch themselves over and look at the ground when standing or sit down in an awkward and casual way. Poor posture can be read as a sign of disinterest or lack of enthusiasm, as well as an absence of confidence. In short, it’s not a good thing. Those wanting to appear more confident and assured should try to improve their posture, tucking their shoulders back, lifting their head, and straightening their back when seated or standing. 

Gestures 

Along with posture and facial expressions, one other nonverbal way in which we can communicate to others is through gestures. Many people like to raise and move their hands around while speaking to emphasise certain points or ideas, for example. Gestures can be effective for showing confidence and belief in what you’re saying, but it’s also important to not overdo them. Try to be mindful of your hands and how you move them as you speak to get more control over your gestures. 

Touch 

Physical touch can also be a part of nonverbal communication. Hugs, handshakes, and pats are all examples of how we might physically interact with someone else as part of our communication with them. Of course, in the workplace, touch is something to be careful with, as some people may not desire certain kinds of physical interaction or any touching at all. It’s therefore important to use touch with caution and use it appropriately. 

Appearance 

A person’s physical appearance is also a powerful form of communication. Someone dressed up smartly with clean, well-groomed hair will naturally tend to be seen as more approachable, professional, and confident compared to someone who arrives at work with messy hair and a casual outfit.  

Obviously, this will vary from workplace to workplace, but taking pride in one’s appearance is a great way to have better conversations and produce stronger first impressions, both at work and in one’s personal life. 

Written communication skills  

Another of the many methods of communication in the workplace is written communication, in the form of letters, emails, notes, and messages. As more and more people have shifted to working remotely, written communication is an increasingly important aspect of workplace communication skills. 

Spelling and grammar 

Spelling and grammar are the basics of writing. It’s important to be able to write in a way that is legible and error-free in order to ensure that your reader or audience understands the message you want to deliver. Error-free writing also denotes a sense of professionalism, while a letter or email with lots of mistakes can lead to negative impressions. There are various software tools, such as Grammarly and ProWriting Aid, that can help you fix little mistakes or typos with ease. 

Clarity and brevity 

One of the common mistakes people make in written communication is rambling or being too wordy, using 100 words to say something that could be said in 50, for example. In the hectic modern workplace, brevity and clarity are greatly appreciated, so try to get into the habit of condensing your messages down to the basics, cutting out any unnecessary sections. 

Tone and style 

It’s important to be able to adjust your tone and style when writing to different people. A quick email to a friendly colleague, for example, will have a much more informal and casual tone when compared to a newsletter that you’re writing to send out to your clients or leads. There are various online resources that can help you improve your understanding of tone and style, and you can look at different examples of messages in your own inbox to see how the tone is different. 

Audience awareness 

Whenever you’re writing any piece of content, be it a letter, email, newsletter, or brochure, it’s essential to keep the audience in mind at all times. Think carefully about who they are and what kind of content they’re looking for. Adjust your tone to suit their needs and always ask questions like “Is this relevant to the audience?” and “Will the audience understand this?” 

Persuasion and influence 

Often, when writing content like marketing newsletters or sales copy, you’ll need to be able to persuade and influence your audience to take an interest or invest in whatever product or service you’re trying to sell. Even when emailing colleagues about a plan or project, persuasion is a key part of an effective written message. One way to work on this is to focus on using more persuasive and evocative words and phrases in your messages to incite positive responses in your readers. 

Emotional intelligence 

Emotional intelligence is all about being able to understand and manage one'’s own emotions in appropriate ways to provide clear and effective communication, and this applies to both written and verbal communication. It'’s a mixture of empathy, self-awareness, and social skills to understand both yourself and others. Getting into the habit of observing your own feelings and considering how your words can impact others is a good way to improve your emotional intelligence

Active reading and comprehension 

As well as being able to write effectively, you also need to be able to read and comprehend messages and pieces of text you receive. The tone, style, and depth of messages you receive may vary greatly, and it’s crucial to be able to read and understand each one fully. The best way to improve with active reading is through practice and repetition. Read and reread messages you receive at work and think about what the writer was trying to say and why they made certain word or phrase choices. 

Interpersonal communication skills 

Finally, there are interpersonal communication skills. Anyone wanting to learn how to communicate effectively at work needs to focus on their interpersonal skills, especially those in positions like managers, HR professionals, and team leaders, as these skills usually involve aspects like conflict resolution or negotiation between multiple people. 

Conflict resolution 

Conflicts often occur in workplaces, and even in happy working environments, it’s common for workers to disagree or for employees to have issues with the way certain situations have occurred or been handled. Being able to resolve conflicts peacefully is a crucial interpersonal skill. A good way to work on this is to improve your active listening and empathy, making sure to understand both sides and show compassion as you work towards a resolution. 

Negotiation 

Negotiation is another of the most important interpersonal communication skills in the workplace. You might need to negotiate the terms of a sale or contract with a client or prospective business partner, for example. To be a good negotiator, it’s important to be assertive and read people well, understanding how far to push negotiations and when to settle. 

Networking 

Networking is the skill of making connections in and out of work, potentially forging strong relationships with people in your industry who might help you get another job or take the next career step in the future. This skill often incorporates other communication skills mentioned earlier, like articulation, confidence, clarity, and humour. A great way to improve networking is to attend more conferences and events and put yourself in positions to talk with strangers. 

Relationship building 

Relationship building is all about strengthening the bonds and connections you form with other people, whether that be fellow colleagues, key clients, bosses, or others. To build a strong and stable relationship, it’s important to be an active listener, understanding what the other person thinks and feels and taking their needs into account, rather than just your own. 

Feedback and criticism 

Feedback and criticism are often beneficial elements that help to improve workplace morale and productivity, but it can be tricky to hand out criticism or provide feedback in the most effective way. If you make the wrong move, you could hurt someone’s feelings or knock their confidence. A gentle yet firm approach is needed to get the message across while also balancing any constructive feedback with some positives. 

Mindfulness 

Mindfulness is all about becoming away and in-tune with one's feelings and emotions. It's an increasingly important skill in the modern world, and it can be so beneficial to every other aspect of our communication. Some useful mindfulness methods to try include guided imagery, controlled breathing, and meditation. 

Cultural sensitivity 

It’s common to find oneself working in a multicultural workspace with colleagues of different backgrounds and beliefs. Cultural sensitivity is all about being sensitive to different cultures and ways of looking at the world. Research and communicating with people from other backgrounds is a good way to work on this, and it’s essential to think carefully before making any comments that could be judged or interpreted as cruel or insensitive. 

List of communication skills for your resume 

  • Verbal communication 
  • Active listening 
  • Nonverbal communication 
  • Written communication 
  • Persuasion and negotiation 
  • Public speaking 
  • Conflict resolution 
  • Empathy 
  • Interpersonal skills 
  • Leadership 
  • Collaboration 
  • Clarity and concision 
  • Professionalism 
  • Presentation skills 
  • Facilitation 
  • Mediation 
  • Relationship building 
  • Customer service 
  • Time management 
  • Teamwork 
  • Active questioning 
  • Adaptability 
  • Articulation 
  • Attention to detail 
  • Coaching and mentoring 
  • Consensus building 
  • Cross-cultural communication 
  • Cultural competence 
  • Customer relations 
  • De-escalation 
  • Diplomacy 
  • Emotional intelligence 
  • Expressive skills 
  • Flexibility 
  • Giving and receiving feedback 
  • Interpersonal relations 
  • Interviewing skills 
  • Listening comprehension 
  • Managing expectations 
  • Negotiation and compromise 
  • Networking 
  • Open-mindedness 
  • Organisation 
  • Relationship management 
  • Storytelling 
  • Stress management 
  • Transparency 
  • Verbal and written rapport-building 
  • Conflict management 
  • Critical thinking 

Conclusion 

As this guide shows, there are dozens of different aspects of communication, from the tone of voice to the way you move your hands and how you listen and understand people. By breaking it down into individual skills, it actually becomes easier to work on improving your communication in key areas, like empathy, active listening, eye contact, etc. 

An improvement in just one or two of these skills can help to boost your ability to communicate. It’s well worth taking the time to focus on some of your perceived weaknesses and work to better them. Continuous practice and improvement will be needed, but in the end, the benefits to both your professional and personal life will be clear to see. 

FAQs 

What are communication skills?  

Communication skills are simply the skills that are oriented or focused on the concept of speaking or interacting with other people, whether that be fellow workers, customers, or others. This can include everything from empathy to assertiveness to body language and more. 

Why are communication skills important in the workplace?  

Communication skills tend to be highly-prized in the workplace, as so many jobs involve communication, either among colleagues or between workers and clients/customers. Effective communication is a great way to get ideas across, make sales, and so on. 

How can I improve my communication skills?  

There are many ways to strengthen your communication skills, such as by practising key skills you feel you're lacking, listening and observing great communicators at your workplace to follow their example, and asking for feedback from colleagues and bosses. 

What are some common barriers to effective communication?  

Issues like social anxiety or lack of experience in effective communication can impact a person's ability to communicate effectively. Other barriers include disinterest with one's job, a clash of communication styles, or conflicts and lack of trust in the workplace. 

What are some examples of nonverbal communication?  

Examples of nonverbal communication can include the likes of eye contact, body language, hand gestures, and facial expressions. 

How can I communicate effectively with people from different backgrounds?  

In general, it’s all about adjusting your approach to suit the situation. You may have to include more or less nonverbal communication when speaking with certain people, for instance. Regardless of a person’s background, clear and efficient communication will always be effective.  

What are some tips for giving effective presentations?  

For a presentation to be effective, the presenter should show passion and interest in their subject. Delivery is really important, and the presentation should be delivered with confidence, facial expressions, potentially a bit of humour, and an understanding of the audience's needs. 

How can I improve my active listening skills?  

One simple way to improve your active listening is through practice. Take the time to speak less and listen more to those around you, and really think about what they're saying. Try to avoid distractions and focus on the words and meaning behind them. 

What are some techniques for managing conflicts through communication?  

Staying calm and collected is a good way to help resolve conflicts, rather than raising your voice or contributing to the drama in any way. Also, be sure to listen actively to both sides and show compassion and empathy. 

How can I tailor my communication style to different audiences? 

The best way to tailor your communication is to understand your audience's needs and expectations. You can use a range of tools to find out more about your audience and then adjust your communication style accordingly. 

Workplace skills

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