7 C’s of Effective Communication in the Workplace

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 8, 2021 | Published January 3, 2020

Updated September 8, 2021

Published January 3, 2020

Regardless of your career or position, good communication skills are essential. The ability to effectively communicate your needs, desires, expectations and insights is a cornerstone of effective leadership. It also helps you clarify these necessities for yourself. In this article, we’ll discuss how the ability to convey information effectively and articulately can be broken down into the seven C’s of communication.

Why is communication important in the workplace?

The seven C’s of communication apply to all methods of exchange, though your approach to each depends on which one you choose—verbal, written, visual or some other form. Regardless of your industry, you will need to communicate with others to work on projects, complete sales or arrange outside services. Understanding the various aspects of communication can ensure your workplace functions efficiently and productively.

Read more: Q&A: Why Is Communication Important?

The seven C’s of communication

The seven C’s of communication is a checklist to ensure an individual is communicating properly and that their message will be received as intended. The aspects of communication are:

  1. Concise

  2. Complete

  3. Coherent

  4. Clear

  5. Courteous

  6. Concrete

  7. Correct

1. Concise

Clear and focused statements often have a greater impact on listeners. Brief, well-delivered messages are also more memorable. The more details included, the more challenging it can be for listeners to follow and recall, especially if the subject matter is new to them. Keep the following in mind when delivering concise communication:

  • Assume the material is new to your listeners.

  • Be as direct as possible without omitting important information.

  • Edit your content to clarify key points as precisely as possible.

  • Eliminate everything that is not necessary to the main points of the subject matter.

Being concise ensures that the fundamental issues are covered and highlighted, making your main points clearer.

Read more: 4 Communication Styles

2. Complete

You may encounter circumstances where you have to discuss complicated subject matter or technical terminology. This is often the case with educational, legal and business matters. Context is equally important, especially when omitting it could change the listeners’ understanding of the information.

Clear, complete communication means imparting the message so that the audience grasps it in the manner in which you intended it. When there is a risk of misunderstanding, it is better to be complete than concise.

If you are uncertain as to whether or not you should include an article of information, consider whether or not you would be affected by not knowing that detail or how it would change your understanding of the issue. You could also ask a volunteer to listen to your speech and then quiz them after your presentation. If you find that they are misinformed or not sufficiently aware of crucial details, your presentation is not complete.

3. Coherent

Coherence often comes down to structure. Organizing your message so that each idea flows neatly into the next makes it easier to follow and remember. Building logically on your introductory statements to a conclusive summary is the usual approach to essays, speeches and other communications. 

Coherence is more than just avoiding run-on sentences. You should also try to understand your audience and tailor your message to it. For instance, you may use a limited vocabulary for entry-level employees, but you can use more specialized technical terms in an academic presentation. 

Consider tailoring your speech and word choice to the audience’s experiences and lifestyle whenever possible. For example, when speaking to a coastal audience, fishing and sailing terms might be appropriate. Audiences in other climates, conditions, age groups and environments may respond better to details reflecting their backgrounds and lifestyles.

Related: 7 Tips for Improving Communication Skills

4. Clear

Clarity demands your words and delivery be free of unnecessary or confusing vocabulary, phrasing and terminology. Some ways to improve clarity include: 

  • Limit your use of idioms or omit them entirely.

  • Omit technical terms, jargon and phrases specific to professional fields, such as psychology, business and philosophy unless appropriate for your audience.

  • When you cannot avoid professional terminology, preface it with introductions, such as, “According to the renowned philosopher…” or, “Professional marketers refer to this concept as…”

  • Don’t use contractions or slang, even if they may be acceptable to your audience.

  • Use active voice and present tense. 

Your delivery should be relaxed, confident and put listeners at ease while maintaining their attention.

5. Courteous

Sometimes included as “Consideration,” courtesy is more than just good manners. Always acknowledge your audience by making eye contact and speaking in a conversational tone. Some other considerations for courteous communication include: 

  • Speak to your audience with the respect you want them to show you.

  • Don’t make assumptions about your listeners.

  • Always show appreciation for your listeners’ time and attention.

Your goal is to be accepted by your audience on their level while maintaining authority in the subject you are discussing. You should command attention without demanding it, either through force of personality or by generating keen interest in the topic. Imparting a genuine interest in your subject makes your audience excited to hear what you have to say about it.

When appropriate, engage your audience with humor, levity and stories to which they can relate. Keep your anecdotes related to your subject, and use them to further your message, not merely to entertain or lighten the mood. In situations where levity is not welcome, consider delivering your message calmly and in a measured fashion, like a newscaster on television.

A conversational tone invites the audience to actively listen while concrete terms and word choice remind them that it is a presentation and not a discussion.

6. Concrete

“Authoritative” and “authoritarian” are two different words with similar but different meanings. An authoritative speaker commands the audience’s attention with a call to action; an authoritarian demands the audience to act on strict instructions. This specificity of language is essential to effective, professional communications.

Replace all adjectives and adverbs with more specific words. For example, “sprint” is more concrete than “quickly run.” The more direct your vocabulary and choice of words, the more effective your delivery. It can be beneficial to keep up-to-date thesaurus to help improve your word choice. 

Related: Steps and Components of the Communication Process

7. Correct

Make sure your communication is factually and grammatically accurate to ensure your listener receives it well. Some other points to consider include: 

  • If possible, always find a proofreader, preferably someone with experience or education in communications.

  • You can double-check your own work by reading it from end to beginning. 

  • Wait until you’ve finished a complete draft before editing, so you have a complete picture of what you want to say. 

When in doubt, consult a dictionary or thesaurus. Reverse-dictionaries are useful when you know what you want to say but do not know the right word for it. There are dictionaries for specific eras, industries, fields of study and specific concepts. You can also find free online tools that check grammar and spelling.

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