If you’re struggling with professional communication, you’re in good company. In fact, 86% of executives and employees cite ineffective communication as the cause of workplace failures. This proves how critical it is for messages between team members to be clear, concise, and useful.

By applying a few basic characteristics of effective communication, you can reach that goal. Here’s a look at those characteristics and how you can apply them.

What are the characteristics of effective communication?

When we talk about the characteristics of effective communication, there are a few mainstay concepts to know: 

1 Clarity 

2 Conciseness

3 Correctness

4 Completeness

5 Coherence

6 Consideration

7 Courtesy

8 Concreteness

9 Consistency

Although the first seven of these are well-known staples of business writing, there are even more elements today’s business teams must consider in their day-to-day communications. So, we’ve added two of our own: concreteness and consistency.

What does effective communication in the workplace look like?

1 Clarity

If your writing is clear, your reader is much more likely to understand and act on your message. Consider this the ultimate characteristic of effective communication. 

If, on the other hand, your reader has to wade through irrelevant information or unnecessary jargon, they’re probably going to struggle to get through your message. Start with a clear communication goal and use concrete, precise language to get your point across.

Examples

Before

“It was agreed upon that company policy be changed to allow employee selection of personal leave days.”

This sentence makes the reader work to understand its intent. Instead of using easy-to-read language, the message is diluted with jargon.

After

“The company decided to change policy and allow employees to choose their personal leave days.”

There’s no extra padding in this statement for the sake of sounding more professional. The language is clear and direct, making it easy for the reader to interpret.

Before

“The amalgamation of the accounts will provide more time for the team to focus on other tasks.”

Don’t assume the receiver will understand an extended vocabulary. Using words like “amalgamation” can be distracting and leave gaps in their interpretations.

After

“Joining these accounts will give the team more time for other tasks.”

Comprehensive words increase the likelihood that this message will be interpreted correctly. Always use common language.

Implementing a communication assistant (like Grammarly Business) can help your team communicate clearly across all platforms.

2 Conciseness

As George Orwell wrote in his essay “Politics and the English Language,” if it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. Your goal is to communicate your message as quickly and directly as possible. By doing this, you’ll save your reader time and trouble.

Example

Before

“We are endeavoring to construct a meticulous proposal to amplify sales.”

This statement is clouded with complex words that add nothing except bloat. 

After

“We’re creating a plan to increase sales.”

This version is direct and efficient.

Being concise helps the receiver focus on what’s essential, speeds up information processing, and ensures improved understanding. Get straight to the point: Avoid wordiness, empty phrases, and redundancies.

3 Correctness

Proper grammar and syntax increase the effectiveness and credibility of your message. Mistakes might affect clarity, create ambiguity, and raise doubts. In addition, the message’s information needs to be accurate. Misinformation can derail productivity in the workplace and compound disorganization.

Example

Before

“Our expanses have increased by 56% this quarter.”

There are spelling errors and typos that change the intended information significantly.

After

“Our expenses have increased by 5–6% this quarter.” 

This statement has no errors and presents the correct information.

To ensure the messages you’re sending your recipients are correct, make sure your statements are fact-based and provable. Then, be sure to always review the content before sending it. Grammarly Business helps you ensure your writing is free of grammatical mistakes and misspelled words.

4  Completeness

Effective communication requires the whole picture. Leaving information out can lead to unnecessary guesswork for readers. Comprehensive yet concise messages reduce follow-up questions and prevent delays.

Example

Before

“When are we meeting?”

There’s no substantial information in this message. It isn’t clear what meeting the sender is referring to or why they’re asking.

After

“When are we meeting with Angie and Ibou to review their marketing campaign?”

This version is direct and expresses intent efficiently.

5 Coherence

Coherent communication is logical. Your points should be relevant to your thesis, and the text’s tone and flow should be smooth. To make your writing coherent, stick to the topic by keeping each point connected with transition words and phrases. Staying organized will prevent any confusion or misunderstandings. If you need to touch on multiple points in a single message, compartmentalize each one.

Example

Before

“The due date for your project has been extended to next week. Mary’s client wants to discuss some new features. They requested a meeting for Friday.”

The structure of this message is disorganized. “Your project” and “Mary’s client” are two separate topics that may or may not be relevant to each other. 

After

“Mary’s client wants to discuss some new features for their product this Friday. This means we’ll be extending due dates for all projects related to their campaign to incorporate the new features.”

The information is organized in a logical way that provides both the information about what is happening and also the reasoning. Therefore, it’s easy to understand.

6 Consideration

Empathy is a critical pillar of good workplace communication. Before you speak, consider your words and their potential effects on your listener.

Example

Before

“You did this wrong, and it looks awful. Why can’t you try harder?”

This message is too blunt and implies that the recipient is lazy or careless. The sender doesn’t take into account any other reasons for the perceived underperformance.

After

“I noticed a few mistakes in that last presentation. Let’s talk about how we can help you work on this.”

This message focuses on solving the problem without blame. It is much more likely to be received positively.

Being considerate of others is important to good relationships and good communication. Even if a conversation is not directly business related, its consequences can generate an uncomfortable work environment and reduce productivity. Keeping a polite and professional tone of voice is just as important as the accuracy of the content.

7 Courtesy

Being courteous is as much a necessity in a corporate setting as anywhere. Your team is working together to achieve the same goals of success and growth. Inside jokes, insults, or an aggressive tone work against teamwork.

Example

Before

“Your staff ignores our suggestions for this program. Our duties are the most important step. Your team needs to understand this and implement our feedback on the code now.”

This message could read as discourteous to its recipient. It’s not likely to motivate them to respond positively.

After

“I understand your team is swamped this week, and deadlines are fast approaching. Our department has made suggestions that we’d like the team to review. Please let us know if they need anything from us so we can meet these deadlines.”

This message is more courteous and professional. When constructive messages that affect productivity are conveyed with respect, team members are more likely to take the initiative and adjust accordingly.

8 Concreteness

A concrete message is tangible, supported by facts for enhanced credibility, and helps your audience better understand what’s being conveyed. It also mitigates the risk of misunderstanding, a common struggle in the workplace. Try to include specific examples or explanations.

Example

Before

“The deadline has been moved forward.”

There are no facts or additional information to support the intent of this message. It’s vague and leaves the receiver guessing with no reason to take action.

After

“The deadline has been moved from this Friday to next Friday because the client needs more time.”

This statement gives the reader specific days along with an explanation to support when and why the deadline is being moved. The additional information can help set things in motion to accommodate this change.

9 Consistency

Following the tips above will ensure that your communication is effective. Once you’ve improved, however, don’t let your quality slip. Your teams and operations are valuable and should always be treated as such. Effective communication depends on a steady and efficient workflow from everyone.

To keep communication in your workplace effective and consistent, create a company style guide that aligns with your culture, values, voice, tone, and internal environment. It can provide the structure and guidelines for internal and external communication, giving you the confidence and security that all team members are collaborating in a positive environment.  

Drive effective communication with Grammarly Business

Improving your communication can boost both your team’s function and your business’ bottom line. The more effective you are at sharing your ideas, the more successful you’ll be at inspiring others. Taking time to learn the principles of effective communication can make you a more decisive leader and streamline workplace efficiency.

For long-term success, your team needs the right tools in place. Grammarly Business helps teams improve their written communication by ensuring correctness in grammar, punctuation, tone, and word choice and helping writers keep their communications concise and clear across all platforms. 

Grammarly is an AI-driven communication assistant tailored to helping organizations like yours maintain consistent, effective communication. To learn more, contact us or get started with Grammarly Business today.

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