Social communication, Communication in the workplace, listening skills, feedback, skills
SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / 14 December 2016
What is Social Communication and How is it Best Used in the Workplace?
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Hannah Son
Content Writer
Redondo Beach

The ability to communicate in a professional manner is crucial in taking you a long way into your career and even more crucial for having a well balanced personal life. 

If you are wondering what social communication is, you have come to the right place. According to the The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), social communication is "the synergistic emergence of social interaction, social cognition, pragmatics (verbal and nonverbal), and receptive and expressive language processing." In other (less complicated) words, Social communication refers to language that is used in social situations. Easy right? Well, not exactly. Communication is a skill that everyone knows but not everyone has mastered...especially when it comes to communication in the workplace. If you want to learn more about the components of social communication click this link.

Before I get into the nitty gritty details, let’s set the foundations. Now that you know the definition of social communication, here is the definition of workplace communication. Workplace= a physical space that is tangible and actually holds relationships, thoughts and goals. Communication= the activity of transmitting thoughts. This type of communication involves listening, speaking, observing and the ability to comprehend meaning through the verbal and nonverbal communication process. In summary, effective communication needs to have active communication between everyone. 

Great! You are now caught up on all of the definitions. Now, onto categories. From talking to your CEO, to texting a co-worker “LOL,” here are the types of Communication happening at any given workplace:


1. Informal communication: According to this Linkedin Slideshow, informal communication is defined by episodes of interaction that do not reflect officially designated channels of communication. Translation: Exchanging information through unofficail channels. Example: Meeting a co-worker at the water cooler and discussing weekend plans.


2. Formal Communication: Communication through officially designated channels of message flow between organization positions. Translation: Exchanging information through official channels. Example: Reading a policy manual or communicating through traditional hierarchical structures. 

If you want to get even more detailed (and I know you do) here is a breakdown of 3 different types of formal communication from SlideShare:

1. Vertical Communication

2. Diagonal

3. Horizontal Communication


All this being said, it is clear that communication is an effective management tool. The importance of communication in the workplace is often overlooked. Effective communication is a skill that everyone can develop. Developing these skills will benefit you both inside and outside of work. If you need a little more help, here are 5 great ways to amp up those skills.


1. Pay Attention. In the words of the great Jennifer Hudson “LISTENNNNNN”. Don’t interrupt and don’t just pretend to be paying attention. It's impossible to have effective communication if we don't give them our undivided attention. Listening and paying attention involve analysis of body language. So pick up on little cues and be aware of how people are conveying their thoughts not just through words. 


2. Check your grammar. This one applies to written communication. Proofread everything. Nothing makes you look as unprofessional as a bad typo. 


3. Give Constructive Criticism. In any management position (and even noon-managerial positions at that) you have to leave emotions at bay. Don’t project negative emotions from one project or person onto another. This only creates tension and bad results. When giving feedback, work to ensure your comments aren't biased or emotionally charged. 


By mastering workplace social communication strategies, you can ensure that you will become an important asset to your company. If you want to learn more soft skills like this, check out the rest of ProSky’s Career Buzz blog.