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Effective communication in the workplace
Effective communication in the workplace

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4.3 Adaptability

You’ll start this section with a case study.

A case study

Two bank employees are due to visit a local school to talk about personal finance. They are delivering a talk to children aged 10 to 11. The purpose of their visit is to explain key points about saving, cashless purchases and how to use cashpoints. The children may have questions about the differences between types of plastic card, and how and when to use them.

In order to communicate more effectively, the bank has created fun characters for children and an easy to read website with activities to help them learn about budgeting.

When running a similar programme for 16-year olds, they will adopt a different approach. For example, they will introduce more financial terminology. They won’t necessarily use the fun characters, but they will need to keep the content relevant, using examples such as saving for a costly electronic device.

When the bank employees return to their branch, they may then be selling services like mortgages or insurance policies to customers. They will use different language and skills to answer complex questions about personalised financial situations.

The importance of being able to adapt your communication style to suit the situation or environment is a recurring theme throughout this course.

Think about the groups of people you could encounter during your working day. For example, you might be chairing a meeting, delivering a presentation to colleagues, or dealing with a query from a customer. How might your communication style differ?

Sharing a joke that worked socially with friends may not be appropriate in the workplace. Consider who you will be talking to – what might their expectations be?

A key starting point is to establish the purpose of the communication. For example, explaining a technical process might require a different communication style to mediating an argument between disgruntled colleagues.

Activity 3 Adapting your style

Timing: Allow 20 minutes for this activity

Think of something you do regularly, either at work or as a hobby. For example, at work you might write social media posts for your organisation, or your hobby might be playing a sport.

In the box below, summarise your activity as if you were talking to a senior manager at work.

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Now summarise the same activity, but imagine you are talking to a child.

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These are two extremes that you usually wouldn’t encounter in the workplace, but the point of the exercise is to consider how you might change the language you use, level of detail you share etc.

When talking to a senior manager, you might choose to highlight some of the key skills required to complete your activity or outline the successes you have had. For a child, you would simplify the information and perhaps try to entertain them with a funny story.

This approach is equally relevant when dealing with different groups of colleagues in the workplace. Thinking about their needs and expectations will help you to tailor your communication.