There Are Six Methods of Communication Used in the Workplace — Are You Using Them Correctly?

By Tina Kuhn, Instructor of the ProThink Learning online course Strategies for Effective Business Communication

ProThink Learning
8 min readNov 10, 2021


Communication is the catalyst of all business operations. We use a variety of communication methods at work, but, depending on the situation and the person with whom you are communicating, some will be more suitable than others. We have established ground rules for choosing the best tool for a given scenario.

The communication mediums available to us include:

1. Face-to-Face Interactions

2. Telephone Conversations

3. Email

4. Texting

5. Meetings and Presentations

6. Written Reports

Each method can be effective if used in the right context or disastrous if used incorrectly. Let’s talk about basic communication tools and the benefits and pitfalls of each.

Effective communication, body language, and information sharing.

1. Face-to-Face Interactions

In face-to-face conversations (including video conferences), both your words and your body language give other people cues about your thoughts and emotions.

With that in mind, here is our advice for how to use face-to-face communication effectively at work:

Face-to-Face Dos

· If you have not met before, introduce yourself and ask for the other person’s name and pronouns.

· Use the person’s name and pronouns to show you are paying attention and connecting.

· Articulate the purpose of the meeting.

· Be polite and respectful, i.e., “please” and “thank you.”

· Be mindful of people’s time and keep the conversation brief.

· Leave conversations on a high note; people remember best what is said last.

Face-to-Face Don’ts

· Don’t interrupt when someone else is talking.

· Don’t fidget, look around, or get up when another person is talking to you.

· Don’t make disparaging remarks about others, whether they are present or absent.

2. Telephone Conversations

Telephone conversations require some discipline to be effective. Unlike face-to-face communication, there are no body language or facial expressions to help convey the message, so the words, tone, and inflection alone must do the job. The natural cadence between people when they talk is also disrupted due to audio lag and the lack of visual clues as to when the other person is finished speaking.

Here are key points to remember about telephone communication for effective use at work:

Phone Dos

· Introduce yourself immediately so the caller doesn’t have to guess who is on the line.

· Have a purpose to your phone conversation. Prepare for your call and articulate the purpose of your telephone call early in the conversation.

· Be polite and respectful. Say “please” and “thank you.” Your listener cannot see your body language, so you must overcompensate by being verbally polite.

· Listen to what the other person is saying.

· Be very clear; don’t assume the listener knows what you want.

· If the phone conversation is not planned and may be lengthy, ask if this is a good time to talk; your listener will appreciate your respect for their time.

· Be direct and get to the point. This is another form of respect for the person’s time.

· Leave conversations on a high note; people remember best what is said last.

Phone Don’ts

· Don’t interrupt when someone else is talking.

· Don’t use accusatory statements. It will put the other person on the defensive.

Don’t send emails or text messages while on the phone. You will not only miss what the person is saying, and they may hear the keystrokes, realizing you are not paying attention to the conversation.

Clarity in telephone conversations and electronic communication.

3. Email

Most managers receive a high volume of emails. To be most effective, emails need to have a clear purpose. If extended dialogue is required, communication should take place in a phone conversation, video teleconferencing, or meeting. However, email works well to disseminate information to a large number of people. It is asynchronous (the sender and receiver do not have to communicate at the same time), which works wonderfully for communicating to teams distributed across time zones (or even different continents), for information and data sharing, and for communication of noncritical or noncontroversial data.

Here are best practices for using email in a professional setting:

Email Dos

· Limit one subject per email and list it clearly in the subject line.

· Give the most important information in the first sentence. Get to the point right away.

· Be clear on when you need a response. The due date can also be included in the subject line.

· Provide a summary when you are forwarding a chain of emails.

· Review all the “To:” and “CC:” lines before sending. This ensures the email gets to the correct people and only to them.

· Reread and spell-check your emails before sending.

· Use standard capitalization and punctuation.

· As organization-recorded documents, all emails are organizational property and can be used as legal documents. Avoid putting anything in an email that you would not want to see on the front page of a newspaper or in court.

Email Don’ts

· Don’t escalate a conflict. Avoid email flaming (hostile and insulting emails); instead, request a face-to-face meeting or pick up the phone.

· Don’t address (“CC:”) more people in your email than necessary.

· Don’t overuse the “Reply all” function.

· Don’t use all capitals in emails; this usually comes across as shouting. If you are angry, take some time to think about the situation, and then talk to the person face-to-face.

4. Texting

Texting is a focused, one-on-one electronic communication technique. Text messages are typically shorter and quicker than emails, and some shortcuts in typing are acceptable. It is an excellent technique for yes or no answers or quick information sharing.

Here is our advice about how to use text messaging appropriately at work:

Texting Dos

· Use texting for short communications and quick answers.

· Use standard capitalization and punctuation.

· Treat all workplace text messages as though they are being sent to your boss or the local newspaper. Make sure you would feel comfortable with all of your text messages being publicized.

Texting Don’ts

· Don’t text during meetings or while talking to someone.

· Don’t use texting for confrontation.

· Don’t overuse text acronyms, shortcuts, or emoticons.

· Don’t hide behind texting; it is not a suitable substitute for face-to-face conversations.

· Don’t use all capitals in texting; this is assumed to be shouting. If you are angry, talk to the person face-to-face.

Text messages, information sharing, and etiquette.

5. Meetings and Presentations

Meetings and presentations have an important place in most offices and enterprises, as they streamline group communication and information sharing. Both may occur in a face-to-face setting or via video and teleconferencing. However, they can be difficult to run effectively. It is paramount to have a clear agenda and to communicate the desired outcome at the start of a meeting or presentation.

Here are our tips for appropriately using meetings to communicate at work:

Meeting Dos

· Have a timed agenda and a clear purpose for the meeting.

· Start and end the meeting on time.

· Articulate the purpose and the desired outcome of the meeting at the beginning.

· Document all decisions and actions taken in the meeting.

· Come prepared and ask only relevant questions.

· Use active listening skills.

· Perform introductions if there are people in the meeting who may not know each other.

· Encourage the perspective of the entire group. Don’t let the loudest or most talkative person run the show or determine the outcome.

· When you are meeting in an online space, such as Zoom or Google Meet, clearly display your name and pronouns with capitalization and punctuation as needed, and leave your camera on.

Meeting Don’ts

· Don’t interrupt when someone else is talking. Pay attention to each speaker.

· In a face-to-face meeting (whether in-person or online), don’t fidget, look around, or get up from your chair.

· In a teleconference meeting that uses audio only, say your name and pronouns before you speak. Don’t assume everyone recognizes your voice.

· Don’t answer your cell phone or read email.

· Don’t invite people who do not need to attend for the meeting to accomplish its purpose.

· Don’t carry on side conversations during the meeting.

· Don’t allow negativity. Meetings should address business challenges in a solution-oriented manner.

· If you are leading the meeting and there is not a designated secretary, elect someone to take notes. This frees you up to lead the meeting and provides documentation of decisions and responsibilities.

6. Written Reports

Writing is a powerful communication tool. Written reports are formal documents and are archived and kept as part of the company or organization’s records. They often use a prescribed template for sharing data or status with upper management and boards of directors; they also provide information on the state of a project to customers and other stakeholders.

Here are our recommendations for communicating via written reports at work:

Written Reports Dos

· Use correct grammar, full sentences, and proper syntax.

· Have the report content verified and the text proofread.

· Reports are formal documents and therefore need to be accurate.

· Develop your report to meet the needs of the target audience.

Written Reports Don’ts

· Don’t send in a report that has not been proofread by someone other than the writer.

· When using acronyms, don’t assume everyone reading the document knows what they mean. Always write out the entire name on first occurrence, followed by the acronym in parentheses. Thereafter, you are free to use just the acronym.

· Don’t add more than what is necessary to the report.

Formal documents, target audience, and content verification.

Apply These Tools to Change How You Do Business

The table below provides a brief summary of each of the communication tools we have addressed. You may use it for guidance when deciding which tool best fits your needs in a given situation.

Communication tools, benefits, disadvantages.

Each of the communication tools can be effective if used in the right setting and context but can be disastrous if used in the wrong way.

Examine how you use communication tools to ensure you have the correct approach for each type of scenario. Your skillful and adept communication will create ease in your business — not just for you, but for your stakeholders, employees, leaders, and client base as well.



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