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The 6 Different Styles of Communication in the Workplace

Young partners discussing in meeting at creative officeAs a leader or employee, the most critical skill you need to develop is the ability to communicate effectively with your colleagues in the workplace. To communicate effectively, you need to be flexible because different situations will require the use of different communication styles.

Your success or failure in the workplace depends on how you communicate. And there is nothing as powerful as communicating in a way that resonates with your colleagues. Today, we will discuss the six key communication styles that every person in the workplace should know and use effectively.


1. Listening

Listening is the first form of communication and probably the most important of all. Without listening, no form of communication can take place in the workplace.

In fact, listening is more important than talking. Listening not only involves hearing what people are saying, but also considering what they are not saying. There is no preferred ratio of talking and listening;  however, you should listen more and talk less.

Through listening, you can understand the hidden challenges and frustrations your team or colleagues are experiencing. When you truly listen to your colleagues or team, you will have all the information you need to analyze the situation and respond with the most effective communication style.


2. Coaching

Coaching is a combination of advising and teaching. It helps team members to develop or improve a broad set of skills that will help them achieve their goals. Coaching is different from teaching.

When you are coaching, you are essentially providing a foundation,  but it’s the team members or employees who will direct the action plan. You are giving them options and letting them decide which path to use to achieve their goals.

What determines whether you are going to teach or coach? Time is everything. You need to evaluate the amount of time you have to resolve the issue.

If it is urgent or time sensitive and you want the results at the moment, teach. If time is on your side, coach. It is best to use both teaching and coaching to accomplish the desired results.


3. Teaching

Teaching is preferred when you notice a team member struggling to perform an activity or with a particular skill.  When teaching, you need to achieve two objectives. First, lay out a foundation or a guide for an employee or colleague to follow.

Second, explain how and why it will help him or her. Explaining why you are teaching a particular skill will make your team member more willing to learn and put it to practice to reap the benefits.


4. Directing

Directing involves specifying the steps an employee or your team needs to take to complete a project successfully. You can provide direction by outlining a series of steps your team or colleagues need to take to complete a project successfully.

Keep in mind that you are not dictating but directing. Your delivery determines the difference between dictating and directing. 

When you provide a framework, you are essentially directing. When you give orders, you are dictating. Dictating should only be used when directing does not produce the results you desire.


5. Advising

Advising is simply providing clarity on a specific instance. If you are a team leader, you will definitely spend a lot of time advising your team members. When someone comes to you with a challenge or question, you will advise them by offering the best solution.

When it comes to a project, a great way to advise your team or colleagues would be to change how you look at the situation. Analyze it from the outside. When you do this, you will discover other aspects that you had not considered.

Provide advice that will not only resolve the problem at hand, but one that will also help the team work through any obstacle and complete the project successfully.


6. Motivating

Sometimes, your team or colleague just needs encouragement to keep pushing forward. It is important for you to know the preferences of your team or colleagues. Do they enjoy being hyped up? Do they prefer to be motivated in a less enthusiastic way?

Not everyone will respond positively to cheerleading. Instead of motivating, cheerleading can actually frustrate a team or an employee. The cheerleader may seem disconnected from the team. Positive reinforcement can be very effective.

One of the best ways to motivate a team or a colleague is to work alongside them to solve a problem. It is best for you to figure out the motivation style that works best for your colleagues and follow it.

Time is the determining factor of the communication style you are going to use. In urgent situations, directing, teaching and motivating always work best. When time is not an issue, advising and coaching are great communication styles. The right time to listen is now.

The key to success is knowing which communication style to use at the right time. Some situations will require the use of different communication styles. Look at the situation at hand and determine the method that will work best.

Sometimes, listening and observing is just enough. If you do not know which communication style to use, ask your colleagues what they need. And how you can help them in the best possible manner.



Using the right communication style will improve the productivity of your team members and the performance of the organization as a whole. The most important aspect of communication is flexibility and adaptability.

Do not keep using specific communication styles just because they worked once. Use many different communication styles to see how they can improve productivity and performance.


About the Author: Kurt Walker has worked as an editor and a copywriter at assignmentgeek and in London for 3 years. He currently works as a professional content writer for and nerdy writers and a journalist in great topics as productivity, inspiration, technology and education.

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