How Do We Communicate Differently at Work?

Published on 19/10/2020


Communication is a very broad term. It covers not only speaking but also understanding, listening, written correspondence and body language. 

Communication is about transmitting information to another person but it’s also about making sure that you understand correctly, or that they do. As a result, our workplace communication in particular needs to be on point. 

A small misunderstanding can easily turn into a full blown office conflict and that is always very detrimental to workplace morale. When that happens, productivity flies out of the window. 

It’s interesting to learn more about communication in general because not only does it help you to improve your own communication skills via greater understanding but it also helps you to understand other people more accurately. 

Why is The Workplace a Different Beast?

One aspect of communication that often differs is workplace communication. We speak differently to our colleagues, manager, customers and clients than we would to our friends and family members. Why is this?

Basically, when you’re working in a large contemporary office, you’ll be communicating with many different people throughout the course of a working day. That means different personalities, different communication styles, and different tolerances. One person may not think anything of something you say, but another person may take great offence to it. When we communicate with our nearest and dearest we know them very well, and they know us; that means you can joke, you can be sarcastic, and you can make off-hand comments and most of the time they’ll completely understand what you mean.

However, in the workplace, you can’t do that, especially with customers and clients. Of course, you can joke with your colleagues whilst you're sitting at your office desk and they know you well enough to understand your meaning but what if it’s a new member of staff, or if someone is having a bad day and everything they hear is misunderstood or twisted by them just because of their general mood? That can easily lead to a problem.

Communication matters in any setting but in the workplace it’s vital that you are clear and that you don’t accidentally upset someone or cause them offence. The ramifications of this are far-reaching and they could easily cause a major problem within the office over time. When it comes to speaking to clients you have to be professional at all times. There can be no joking or sarcasm in this type of communication - you need to maintain professionalism to give the right impression of your company. At the end of the day, you are representing them and your performance is reflective of the goods and services they provide. 

Written communication also comes into this. When you send an email to a friend at home, you can be joking, you can add emojis and you can be more easy going, however when you send workplace communication, e.g. letters, emails, reports, etc, they need to be accurate, exact, clear, and free of mistakes. Again, it all reflects back on the company and on you as an individual employee too. 

There are many barriers of communication within a workplace and with so many different personalities at play you have to be super-careful that you’re not going to be misunderstood by those around you. That is why workplace communication will always be different and why we need to pay far greater attention as a result.

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