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5 Communication Tips That Will Set You Apart

Emma White | July 19, 2023

Like most things, how we communicate constantly evolves. Texting, email and emoji have become de facto communication methods, while new avenues to communicate zoom into focus faster than you can say, “You’re on mute.”

Despite this change, the basic principles of effective communication largely remain the same. A Graduate Management Admission Council survey of recruiters found that of the five top-ranked skills for future recruits, four fall within the communications category:

  • oral communication
  • listening skills
  • written communication
  • presentation skills

At the same time, a Fierce Inc. study found 86% of employees blame workplace failures on a lack of collaboration or inefficient communication.

The long and short of it: Top-notch communication skills can set you apart in the position you’re in — or put you in prime position to land your next one. To help you do that, here are five tried and true communication tips for a leg up in today’s workplace.

1. Listen intently

The first step to becoming an effective communicator? It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s not what you say or even how you say it — it’s listening.

Active, purposeful listening is a foundational skill that allows for meaningful and successful interactions. It helps promote understanding and minimize misinterpretation while building rapport with your audience.

But effective listening is more than simply hearing what’s said — it’s picking up on nonverbal cues as well. According to a Pennsylvania Department of Health study, as much as 65% of a person’s communication is unspoken, including:

  • facial expressions
  • gestures
  • body language
  • eye contact
  • posture
  • tone of voice
  • touch
  • the use of personal space

Such nonverbal cues can convey emotions, attitudes, intentions and social signals, complementing or even contradicting the verbal message.

By listening intently to the person you’re talking with, you can better understand the context, emotions and goals of the conversation — and do it all before you interject.

2. Ask open-ended questions

Nothing stifles a conversation like a meager “yes” or “no.” To avoid such interactions, encourage thoughtful, expository answers by asking open-ended questions. Doing so not only helps you fully understand a situation, but makes others feel heard as well.

Suppose the company you work for is experiencing a decline in sales. Rather than asking your team, “Are we doing everything we can to boost sales?” ask an open-ended question like, “What factors do you think may be contributing to our recent decline in sales, and what strategies can we implement to turn it around?” This will encourage team members to think critically, express their insights and propose creative solutions.

Open-ended questions encourage collaboration and engagement among co-workers, empowering everyone to contribute their insights and experiences while creating an environment that promotes innovation and problem-solving. This approach increases the likelihood of finding effective solutions to challenges — and achieving positive outcomes.

3. Find the right forum for your message

To communicate effectively, it’s important to evaluate the length, complexity and range of professionalism needed to accomplish your communication. Before you engage someone, ask yourself what kind of interaction you want to have:

  • Is it professional?
  • Casual?
  • Somewhere in between?

Some communications, especially those pertaining to complex issues, are best done in person. Others, like approval for a project or document, probably don’t require a 30-minute meeting. Whether it’s a phone call, text, video conference, email or instant message, assess the situation before you engage.

At Paycom, we offer green spaces, meeting rooms and other specialized resources designed to enhance collaboration. Many workplaces offer similar amenities, so if the situation calls for it, utilize them accordingly.

4. Know your audience

You wouldn’t talk to your manager like you would your best friend. To this end, the best way to ensure your message resonates is by speaking the language of your audience.

By researching your audience’s demographics, values, interests and communication preferences, you can tailor your language to effectively engage and resonate with them. This targeted approach increases the chances of capturing their attention, building a connection and inspiring them into action.

Just remember: Not every communication needs to be perfectly professional, but all should represent the best version of yourself. What you say to your boss, client, team member or recruiter likely all look and feel different.

5. Keep it clear and short

Shakespeare put it best: “Brevity is the soul of wit.” In other words, concise language can enhance the impact of your words and ideas by distilling them to their most essential, impactful form.

If your audience can’t understand your message, they won’t receive it — at least as intended. That’s why clarity and brevity are integral to effective communication, enabling the exchange of information in a way that’s easy to grasp.

Find clear ways to communicate quickly, if appropriate and possible. Clear, brief communication is always a safe bet. It might be tempting to write a super-detailed email or hold long meetings, but sometimes it’s best to stick to the essentials — and omit the unnecessary.

Ready to put those communication skills to work? Apply to Paycom today.

About the author
Author picture, Emma White
Emma White
As an employer brand marketer at Paycom, Emma White helps broaden the employer brand and increase brand awareness. Emma is a recent graduate of Oklahoma State University, where she earned degrees in marketing and management. Her work on Paycom’s recruitment marketing team includes company culture, careers and social media content. Outside work, Emma's hobbies include art, reading, exploring new places in OKC and spending time with friends.