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12 secrets to effective team communication

Harness the full potential of your flock with these handy habits

birds-messaging-on a rockTwo birds, one stone. Now that's effective team communication!

Highly collaborative teams often have strong leaders who are great communicators. Leaders who communicate well speak with purpose, passion, and candor that lifts morale and permeates transparency throughout the workplace. 

When teams practice good communication habits, they foster contagious chemistry that can drive culture, collaboration, and productivity.

Realize your team's potential to do great things! Check out our guide to effective team collaboration. 

Communication empowers every facet of the business. It fuels engagement and fluid dialogue that streamlines everyone’s decision-making and problem-solving. But different teams use different software, different tools, and adopt different practices that help them communicate better. 

So the real question is: what are the communication tools and practices that work best for you?

Well, we’re gonna let you in on a little secret—12 of them, in fact. Here are a dozen ways to improve your teams' communication habits to get them talking and working smarter, together.

  1. Listen up
  2. Ask questions
  3. Be authentic and approachable
  4. Practice what you preach
  5. Actions speak louder than words
  6. Meet your team in the middle
  7. Reciprocate respect
  8. Formalize your feedback
  9. Know when to hold 'em
  10. Be humble and accountable
  11. Know your audience
  12. Be a pro at being proactive  


1. Listen up

Make listening a habit. Overindulging your co-workers is the ultimate badge of respect. It helps create a connection that can cultivate that contagious team chemistry you’re looking to foster. Listening also triggers curiosity which ignites learning—especially when you’re communicating cross-functionally with teams you don’t often collaborate with.


2. Ask questions

Like listening, the most common way to engage in open and effective communication is to be adamant about asking questions—lots of them. It’s in our nature to be curious, so don’t be shy. If your intentions are to learn and understand, be diligent about indulging the right people for the right answers. Remember to listen attentively and ask follow-up questions if necessary.


3. Be authentic and approachable

Effective communicators are genuine, sincere, and approachable. Be upfront about your intentions and priorities by clearly stating your objectives respectfully. Again, intention is key, but delivering your message appropriately goes a long way in building morale and rapport, especially if you plan on working together in the future. 


4. Practice what you preach

Credibility comes with consistency. If you want people to take you seriously, prove your worth by speaking the truth and backing it up with references or examples. Keep your word, follow through on promises and projects, and be diligent about following up on tasks and to-dos.


5. Actions speak louder than words

Nowadays, it’s incredibly easy to communicate over chat, but sometimes you may need to take action when things get lost in translation. Use your communication tools effectively by nipping problems in the bud directly in messenger or by initiating a video conference to clarify or emphasize a point that didn’t translate via chat. 


6. Meet your team in the middle

Dialogue is a two-way street that leads to the discovery of new information. Strive to bring the best out of others, don’t just talk at them. Show an active interest in a conversation by carrying the momentum or adding insightful contributions that elaborate on a specific issue or topic. Pick up where someone else left off or piggyback off an existing idea—or collaborate on a new one! 


7. Reciprocate respect

Everyone on your team deserves the same level of respect. Set a tone of inclusion that invites colleagues into the conversation and gives others an opportunity to drive it. It’s fine to frame the discussion, especially when you have an actionable agenda, but don’t be too aggressive, forward, or personal. General rules of thumb are to be kind, helpful, and empathetic. Basically—just be a good human.  


8. Formalize your feedback

Effective communication should never be a monologue. The best communicators create a forum for discussion that opens the floor to diverse perspectives, thoughtful dialogue, and constructive feedback. Teachable moments are part of personal development that everybody can and should learn from. Mistakes happen, but don’t let communication—or lack thereof—be the reason why.  


9. Know when to hold ’em

Believe it or not, effective communication sometimes means not saying anything at all. Your expressions and body language already say a lot, but if you don’t have an answer or just don’t know what to say, you’re better off tabling those thoughts for when the time is right. 

Avoid miscommunication or misinterpreting a situation until you fully understand the crux of the conversation or are able to properly get your message across. Listen instead and see if you can add value later on in the discussion. 


10. Be humble and accountable

Nobody likes a know-it-all. When you make a mistake, just admit it and move on. After all, failure is the quintessential motivator—accept it. Don’t get caught up in over-apologizing but show some social awareness and be a model of humility and accountability. It’s admirable to own your mistakes and take accountability for your actions—your team will respect you for it. 


11. Know your audience

What works for some might not work for all. Understanding what makes your teammates tick not only gets the best out of them, but it also gets the most out of your communication with them—and that influences outcomes that drive results.  


12. Be a pro at being proactive

Last but certainly not least is the secret science of being proactive. Great leaders value communication above all and are cognizant of everyone’s limited time and bandwidth. Communicate in a timely manner so projects don’t slip through the cracks. Wasted time playing catch-up can stifle productivity. Stay on top of your work by using communication tools that get out in front of deadlines and make it easy to track progress. 

Great communicators give teams a voice. Learn to excel in communication and value it, and you’ll take your teamwork to new heights.

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