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What are the different methods of communication, and which is best for you?

Many times, when people think of the word communication, they think of an exchange of information and ideas through words. However, verbal communication is just one small part of communication. There are many different methods of communications, and determining which is right for you and your organization is an important decision.

What are the different methods of communication?
The following are some different methods of communication that are commonly used within the workplace:

Verbal communication is simply speaking. This can be done one-on-one, in a group setting, over the phone, etc. Verbal communication is a personal means of communication and should be utilized more than just emails or phone calls when possible. Being able to see the person you are communicating with face to face can help you gauge their response by reading their body language and actively participating in dialogue.

When you use verbal communication, be aware of your tone of voice, speed, and inflection. Avoid sarcasm or angry tones, as they can put the people you are speaking with on the defensive. When speaking to a group or your team, make sure you speak loudly and clearly so everyone can understand you. Arrange for a microphone if you are addressing a group in a large room.

Verbal communication is best when you need to discuss something in detail, or when complimenting or reprimanding someone.

You can't avoid written communication in the workplace; it's everywhere. Emails, memos, reports, and other written documents are all part of every day business life.

Written communication is the most appropriate when detailed instructions are required, when something needs to be documented, or when the person is too far away to easily speak with over the phone or in person.

Email is a lifesaver for many people, especially in the business world. If you rely on emails and memos to conduct your business, it's very important to portray a professional image. Don't use abbreviations unless they pertain to your field, and always use spell check and read over your email before you send it to make sure it's clear and concise. Emails should be brief and to the point.

Non-verbal communication plays a large role in the way you communicate with others. Unless you're using sign language, however, you probably don't want to rely on it as your sole means of communication.

You do, however, need to be aware of it. Your gestures, eye contact and movement, and the way you stand and sit all convey a message to the person you are communicating with. Use gestures appropriately, or leave your hands at your sides. Don't fidget, which is distracting, and avoid crossing your arms, which sends off the appearance of being angry or closed off. Always look the person you are speaking to in the eye, and don't roll your eyes or stare while they talk.

Which method is right for me?
There is not one "right" way to communicate, but you should be aware of what is appropriate and when. Your chosen method of communication is dependant on the situation. Put yourself in your employees' shoes. If you needed to have a certain message conveyed to you, think first how you would like to receive it. Use your good judgment of the situation and be considerate of your employees, and you will be an effective communicator.

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