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Christa Sterling

January 1st, 2023

Effective conversation is important in the workplace and personally.

Effective verbal communication can help you both professionally and personally. Conversation is an art, but it can and should be learned to benefit both your career and your personal life.

Say What You Mean

There can be many goals for conversation, such as finding out needed information or instructing someone about what you need them to do. In all of your conversations, however, you should do your best to be clear and say what you mean.

In business, being clear will help those around you understand what you want them to do as well as what you intend to do. You don’t want to make promises you don’t intend to keep, no matter how much pressure you may feel. And you don’t want to make co-workers feel that they can disrespect your boundaries by saying “it’s okay” just to avoid conflict, if it’s really not.

Mean What You Say

Honesty is a cornerstone of meaningful conversation, says Julian Treasure in a TED talk, as long as it comes from a place of wishing people well. Being tactful will allow you to say what you mean without hurting anyone’s feelings. Sometimes you need some time to think through the best way to say something, so you may need to walk away from a conversation without giving an answer in order to think it through first.

Keeping conversations positive will help get your points across.

Keep It Positive

Larry Alton on advises starting conversations with a specific compliment to get off on the right foot. Being friendly makes people willing to continue the conversation, and will help them listen better to what you have to say. If you can lighten the mood with a joke or a funny story, that’s even better.

Treasure’s TED talk gives a list of negatives to avoid: gossip, judging, excuses, exaggeration. “Complaining is viral misery,” he adds. These negatives will make most people want to avoid talking to you, and can also make them miss your point, even if it is a legitimate one.

How You Say It

Elements of speaking like your pitch, volume, and register can draw people in or repel them. If you have been told that your voice sounds annoying or if you think it does, working with a voice coach can help you adjust your sound to be more pleasing. It may seem unnecessary to work with a voice coach if you don’t do formal public speaking, but how your voice sounds to others can be the difference between getting a raise or promotion or getting ignored.

Listening Is Important, Too

Conversation is a two-way street. Many people focus on talking, but if you only talk and don’t listen, your conversations won’t be very effective. One way to actively listen is to repeat back what you hear in your own words. You can also ask questions in order to be sure you understand what you hear or to get more information.

CCSU offers leadership courses that cover topics like effective communication in the workplace. View our open courses now to see how you can benefit.