4 Types of Effective Communication in the Workplace

4 Types of Effective Communication in the Workplace
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 09 August, 2023

Importance of communication

Two employees communicating with each other

When you have good communication skills, employers are more likely to hire you for a job.

Communication, or the process of sending information from one party to another, is vital in building relationships, sharing ideas, and expressing ourselves. In the workplace, communication is key to developing collaborations, managing projects, and achieving results.

While good communication skills are essential for employability, not everyone has realized his or her potential to communicate effectively. One reason could be the lack of exposure to ideal communication environments for new graduates in particular.

As a job seeker or someone who wants to increase their chances of getting hired. it’s important for you to discover ways to improve your communication skills. You can start off by learning the different types of communication.

The 4 types of communication

One of the primary purposes of communication is to create understanding among people. In the process, you might use one or a combination of types of communication to achieve that intended result.

Each communication type likewise has its own advantages and disadvantages. Learn more about their examples and how you could improve your skills in each of these communication types.

Verbal communication

Boss having a conversation with her employee

When you communicate with another person through words and sounds, this is known as verbal communication. It’s one of the most common forms of exchanging information and ideas. Others say it’s even the most effective mode of communication.

Verbal communication encompasses spoken forms of sending messages. It includes conversations, speeches, and presentations. These can be done face-to-face or through phone calls, radio or television broadcasts, and nowadays, online videos too.

Advantages of verbal communication

  • We can process messages almost instantly, especially with technology.
  • It requires less cost in terms of money and effort.
  • Messages are delivered effectively when accompanied by non-verbal cues.

Disadvantages of verbal communication

  • Meanings can be distorted amid physical and other barriers of communication.
  • With little preparation, there's a higher chance of misunderstanding.
  • It’s suitable for short-form information most of the time.

Examples of effective verbal communication

  • An employee presents a report to clients and frequently asks the audience for questions to ensure comprehension.
  • A manager sits down with the members of the team to discuss problems in the workplace and to come up with the best solutions.
  • While attending a video conference, non-speaking participants mute their speakers and set aside other tasks so they are able to focus on the topics at hand.

How to improve verbal communication

When used properly and efficiently, oral communication can help strengthen your interpersonal relationships, while reducing the cost and time to do it. You can enhance your verbal communication skills by doing one or more of the following.

Use simple language- Simplicity in the words we use and how we say them is a must in developing verbal communication skills. In doing so, we can avoid conveying the wrong idea to the other party and can ensure mutual understanding.

Speak confidently- Confidence is key when pitching ideas and offering solutions at the workplace. To enhance yours, practice speaking with a close friend and use as many physical cues as necessary to enhance the delivery of your message. Gestures help give emphasis to your message.

Listen (or read) attentively- Paying close attention to what you’re sending or receiving beyond the language used can give you a more complete understanding of a message. One way to do this is to study the non-verbal communication used by others in various situations.

Non-verbal Communication

Non-verbal communication is the use of physical signals or cues to accompany or even replace verbal forms of communication. It’s one of the top communication types, so much so that studies suggest we rely on it more than verbal communication.

In place of words, proper body language, facial expressions, eye contact, and physical touch are key to effective non-verbal communication. In some cases, it can also include the objects we own and how we present ourselves through our clothes or accessories.

Advantages of non-verbal communication

  • Physical cues can support or replace verbal communication.
  • It makes communicating among people within the same culture more effective.
  • It shows our personality better, so our messages appear more authentic.

Disadvantages of non-verbal communication

  • Some cues only apply or are only understandable in certain communities or cultures.
  • Ambiguous, incomplete, or inaccurate messages are sometimes conveyed.
  • It’s harder to communicate remotely due to geographic distance or location.

Examples of effective non-verbal communication

  • You dress professionally for a meeting with an important client to show that you take your work seriously and that you respect them.
  • While on a business trip abroad, you use well-researched body language to communicate with the locals amid the language barrier. For example, taking a bow in Japan when expressing gratitude.
  • You keep consistent eye contact while answering a question during a job interview, helping the interviewer focus more on what you’re saying.

How to improve non-verbal communication

Non-verbal cues are already useful on their own, and sometimes even more when used with verbal forms of communication. Now, it’s time you work on your non-verbal communication skills by trying these tips.

Observe other people’s non-verbal cues- Immersing yourself in different environments can expose you to how others use and respond to physical cues. A certain form of body language may be acceptable to a group, but considered rude or unacceptable to others.

When unsure, simply ask- Because there are often no words used, sometimes you have to rely on people’s explanations on what specific hand or facial movements mean. It’s better to ask than risk having miscommunications.

Practice when you can- We might think that we’re delivering a message accurately and impressively, but others might not be responding to it the way we expect them to.

Preparing for a work presentation? Try practicing how you speak with a close peer while using physical cues like hand gestures and eye contact.

Visual Communication

Woman expressing her feelings through painting

Visual communication is the transmission of messages through visual elements. Examples include graphic design, photography, video, and infographics, to name a few.

About 65% of people are visual learners, or those who learn best with the use of visual elements. This means that they learn more effectively when presented with information that they can see, rather than hear. This form of communication is another skill that you try to master.

Advantages of visual communication

  • Visually pleasing messages tend to be more attention-grabbing.
  • Elements are flexible and adaptable for different audiences.
  • It can explain complicated messages through simple images.

Disadvantages of visual communication

  • Creating effective visual aids can be time-consuming and expensive.
  • Poorly designed messages can be misleading.
  • Not everyone is capable of conveying such communication.

Examples of effective visual communication

  • Facebook users are more inclined to engage in a post that contains images and are less likely to notice those that don’t.
  • A website that uses a do-it-yourself map tool to allow Filipinos to share how well-traveled they are by simply plotting the places they’ve been to.
  • In educational institutions, students recall more information over time when delivered visually than through spoken communication.

How to improve visual communication

Visual communication is not as popular as the traditional modes of communication. But it’s just as powerful alone when used creatively. The following are ways to improve your visual communication.

Use simple yet powerful imagery- Take this McDonald’s advertisement as an example. By using imaginative images (two chairs resembling two different products), they showed that we sometimes don’t need words to convey our message.

Don’t cram your messages in one place- Adding multiple charts or graphs in one PowerPoint slide isn’t the best idea when it comes to making presentations. It not only looks confusing, but you also risk concealing important information under all those elements.

Know your audience- Similar to verbal and non-verbal communication, it’s important to know who you’re communicating with (e.g. using animated visuals for younger people ) to determine the best way to get your message across. Different audiences respond to different ways of presenting and communicating.

Written Communication

A woman communicating through writing

Lastly, there’s written communication, which uses letters, numbers, and other characters or symbols to transmit information. This form of communication is most common in the workplace. As a result, many employers require their employees to have good written communication skills.

Written communication tends to work best in formal settings or situations. Business writing, creative writing, and academic writing are all forms of this type of communication. Some examples include emails, essays, notes, reports, and news articles.

Advantages of written communication

  • Written materials stick around longer, and you can revisit them anytime.
  • More than one person can be the receiver of the message.
  • There’s more time for people to think and react to messages.

Disadvantages of written communication

  • Not everyone has proper grammar and language usage skills.
  • It takes time for feedback to take place.
  • Non-verbal communication is absent, causing miscommunication at times.

Examples of effective written communication

  • Well-written resumes that highlight important skills, experiences, and other key information tend to appeal more to hirers. They might show your ability to organize and present details clearly.
  • Effective essays not only help you stand out in work applications (e.g. writing jobs), but also admit you into your desired school should you decide to pursue further studies.
  • The office administration posts a new office policy that is written legibly and simply leading to higher compliance among the staff.

How to improve written communication

Honing our written communication skills requires considerable time and resources. To help you become a more well-rounded communicator, consider the following techniques to improve your written communication.

Determine your message- You have more time to prepare your message when you write it down. Make it clear from the beginning what you want to say. This is regardless of whether you're creating a new article or a simple work memo.

Know how and when to edit- Encourage yourself to read and write regularly, no matter how simple your message is. Then, evaluate your work as continuous checking can help you spot mistakes that you wouldn’t have discovered initially.

Avoid jargon and technical terms- Language nuances are common barriers of communication. One way to prevent them is by using straightforward words and language so that your intended receiver will have less time figuring out what you actually mean to say.

Key takeaways

Communication primarily comes in four forms, namely verbal, non-verbal, visual, and written. Each of them has their own advantages to help you meet your communication goals in any given situation. At the same time, they also pose challenges that require specific solutions.

By mastering your competency in each of the communication types in the workplace, among other environments, you can share various messages and information to suit any purpose. At the same time, you overcome common barriers helping you become a much more effective communicator.

#SEEKBetter opportunities when you improve your communication skills. Download the JobStreet app on Google Play or App Store, and visit Career Advice for work insights that you can use.


  1. What is the most effective type of communication?
    There is no single “best” type of communication in terms of effectiveness. However, non-verbal communication continues to be the most common, which means that you should consider prioritizing it in your journey to improve your communication skills.
  2. How can I improve my communication skills?
    You can improve your communication skills by mastering the four types of communication. Across all communication types, some of the top tips include continuous practicing, observing and listening, and knowing your purpose. You can also consider taking formal classes to hone your expertise in communication.
  3. Why is it important to have good communication skills?
    All of us can communicate. But not everyone has fully developed their ability to communicate effectively. Having good communication skills can especially help you stand out to employers and hirers, hence increasing your chances of landing jobs.
  4. How does effective communication become successful?
    When you’ve smoothly delivered your message to your intended recipient and received the appropriate feedback, effective communication has taken place. For example, when you come up with a unanimous solution to a problem after meeting with your peers. Or when you’ve successfully landed a job interview after submitting a well-written resume.
  5. What is the role of non-verbal communication in communication?
    Non-verbal communication primarily supports or replaces verbal forms of communication. This type of communication includes body language, facial expressions, eye contact, and touch. When you execute them well, they can help people in certain communities or cultures gain a clearer understanding of the messages you are conveying.

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