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Keys to Building Effective Communication in the Workplace

by Billie Nordmeyer

Effective communication is essential in planning and controlling an organization’s resources to accomplish the company’s objectives. The importance of business messages makes effective communication skills a critical business tool and an essential employee attribute. According to Herta Murphy, Herbt Hildebrandt and Jane Thomas, the authors of “Effective Business Communications,” the use of “the seven C’s”, such as completeness and conciseness, will ensure employees become better communicators, able to select the message content and style that best suits the purpose and recipient of a message.

Completeness

A complete business message includes all information the receiver requires to understand and possibly respond to the message. A complete message answers six questions: who, what, when, where, why and how. For example, to ask an employee to prepare a report, you state what report is required, when the report must be completed, to whom and where the employee should deliver the report and how the report is to be created.

Conciseness

Concise business messages are both time- and cost-effective because the messages convey only relevant information in a concise manner without repetition of ideas. Concise messages do not include unnecessary details and single words, rather than phrases, are used when possible. In addition, the communicator uses “which” and “that” phrases sparingly. For example, “Only five vendors account for three-fourths of this month’s accounts payable.”

Consideration

An effective communication is one that meets the needs of a specific listener. For example, “You will be able to more quickly reconcile the company's accounts payable if you use the open account reconciliation and journal reconciliation reports that will be on your desk by three o’clock.”

Concreteness

Vague communication is avoided by the effective communicator who uses specific or definite information, such as facts and figures, to convey ideas,. For example, “Our accounts payable aging report indicates that we owe Smith Electrical $15,000 in 30 days, $45,000 in 60 days, for a total of $60,000.” Messages are also more concrete if explicit words are used. For example, “journal reconciliation report” is more definite than “accounts payable reconciliation report.”

Clarity

Clarity enables a listener to understand a message effortlessly. To speak clearly, a speaker uses precise language and familiar words. For example, a speaker might say “after the reconciliation of accounts” instead of “subsequent to the reconciliation of accounts.” Clarity also requires the avoidance of technical and business jargon unless the speaker is confident that the listener is familiar with the terms. The speaker should also avoid lengthy sentences and the awkward arrangement of words.

Courteous

Courteous communications are respectful of the reader or listener. Such communications also avoid questionable humor. For example, instead of “Your message is completely indecipherable,” a courteous message might state, “I lack the experience necessary to properly interpret the instructions.”

Correctness

Correctness refers to the use of proper punctuation, grammar and spelling, and the use of accurate facts and figures.Therefore, correctness suggests that all information in a communication should be double-checked for accuracy and be timely. For example, correctness requires that original data sources be used when possible.

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