The Three P’s of Effective Workplace Communication

Effective workplace communication is the backbone of any successful organisation. To achieve this, communication must embody three key principles: politeness, professionalism, and positivity.

Successful Communication Skills: The Three Ps - Polite, Professional, and Positive

Polite Communication:

    1. Active Listening: Politeness starts with active listening. When someone is speaking, give them your full attention. Avoid interrupting and resist the urge to formulate your response while they are still talking. Instead, focus on understanding their perspective.
    2. Respect Differences: The workplace is often a diverse environment with individuals from various backgrounds and experiences. Polite communication involves respecting these differences, whether they relate to culture, age, gender, or perspectives. Encourage an open exchange of ideas and show appreciation for the richness of diverse viewpoints.
    3. Constructive Feedback: When providing feedback, choose your words carefully. Frame your comments in a way that encourages improvement without demoralising the individual. Use “I” statements to express your thoughts and feelings instead of making accusatory “you” statements.
    4. Use “Please” and “Thank You”: Simple courtesies like saying “please” when making requests and “thank you” when expressing gratitude can go a long way in making your communication polite. These phrases convey respect and appreciation.
    5. Avoid Gossip: Gossiping or speaking negatively about colleagues undermines a polite work environment. Instead, address concerns directly with the person involved or through appropriate channels.

Successful Communication Skills: The Three Ps - Polite, Professional, and Positive

Professional Communication:

    1. Clear and Concise: Professional communication values clarity and conciseness. Avoid jargon or overly technical language that may confuse others. Be direct and articulate your ideas clearly.
    2. Appropriate Tone and Language: Tailor your tone and language to suit the context and the audience. Formality may be required in certain situations, while a more casual tone may be appropriate in others. Always err on the side of professionalism.
    3. Timeliness: Professional communication respects time constraints. Respond to emails and messages in a timely manner. If you can’t meet a deadline, communicate proactively, and negotiate a new one.
    4. Use of Technology: In the digital age, email and instant messaging are common communication tools. Use them thoughtfully and be aware of the potential for misinterpretation. Ensure that your written communication is professional, free of typos, and follows established guidelines.
    5. Conflict Resolution: Conflicts are inevitable in the workplace. A professional approach involves addressing conflicts calmly and privately, seeking solutions rather than assigning blame, and involving appropriate parties when necessary.

Successful Communication Skills: The Three Ps - Polite, Professional, and Positive

Positive Communication:

    1. Encouragement and Recognition: Recognise and celebrate achievements, both big and small. Acknowledging the efforts of colleagues and teams boosts morale and motivates individuals to excel.
    2. Constructive Positivity: Positive communication isn’t just about offering praise; it’s also about providing constructive feedback in a supportive manner. Emphasise opportunities for growth and improvement rather than dwelling on mistakes.
    3. Solution-Oriented: When challenges arise, focus on finding solutions rather than dwelling on problems. A positive mindset promotes resilience and a proactive approach to issues.
    4. Emotional Intelligence: Being emotionally intelligent means understanding and managing your own emotions while also being attuned to the emotions of others. This skill helps create a positive and empathetic workplace.
    5. Gratitude: Express gratitude regularly. A simple “thank you” can brighten someone’s day and strengthen relationships within the team.

Successful Communication Skills: The Three Ps - Polite, Professional, and Positive


Effective workplace communication, rooted in politeness, professionalism, and positivity, is a powerful tool for success.

Further reading

Improve your communication skills with these 7 tips

Effective Communication Skills. 3 tips to address Conflict

Effective Communication: Having Difficult Conversations

In all our careers there will be occasions where we need to have difficult conversations with our colleagues, these may be focused on performance management, poor behaviour, giving bad news, or be of a personal or sensitive nature, whatever the issue is, many of us do not look forward to these moments.

Why do we put these conversations off?


According to stats from the CIPD, the main reasons for putting these conversations off were the following:


  • Didn’t want to create a bad atmosphere 29%
  • To avoid confrontation 18%
  • Didn’t know how to say it 16%
  • Worried about the reprisals 11%
  • Thought it might make the situation worse 11%
  • Didn’t want to upset someone 8%
  • Other reasons (e.g. lack of back up, lack of time) 7%

 And what happened? They asked “Did the issue…”

  • Resolve itself 4%
  • Get worse 43%
  • Stay the same 49%

The other 4% reported that someone else had tackled the issue…

….not great results. On our excellent Effective Communications Skills course, we look at ways to make these conversations far less challenging and more importantly help them to be more productive and valuable for all. Let’s have a look at some of the ideas.

Reflect on the situation


Before you go headlong into having a difficult conversation, it is useful to pause and reflect on the situation; considering these questions will really help you plan:


  • What type of conflict is it?
  • What facts, purpose and values are involved?
  • What personality types are involved?
  • What is your natural response to the conflict? Avoid, Accommodate, Compete,

Compromise, Collaborate?

  • Is this the best way? What might work better?

After some reflection, you will be in a better position to have a far more productive conversation; the following steps can assist you.

1 – Everyone tells it like they see it


  • Ask questions to draw out the other’s side of the conflict, there are always two sides to a story
  • Set ground rules, this helps keep the conversation on track, professional and focused.
  • Listen without judging and avoid interrupting or blaming, hear the other person out – fully.
  • Take notes as you may need to refer to these to confirm what has been said or for future events.
  • Paraphrase what they have said before saying your version to check for understanding. Paraphrasing will confirm you really heard the other party.

2 – Everything is on the table


  • Share your understanding of the conflict so the other party sees your point of view.
  • Present your case by using “I” statements, talk for yourself and use your own evidence and feelings and understanding of the situation.
  • Get to the point and focus on the issue, not on personalities, accusations, or past encounters
  • Include feelings, facts, and perspectives – these are important and matter.

3 – Focus on the future


  • Ask for commitment to working out a solution, without this, problems will not resolve. The issues will reoccur.
  • Create a mutual action plan, discuss, and agree a solution together.
  • Get an agreement with specifics.
  • Follow through – do what you said you’d do, talk is cheap, actions say far more.
  • Schedule an evaluation meeting, review what happened, do ideas need modifying? What has been learnt?


Some great ideas to help you find a way forward when you next need to have a difficult conversation – learn more with STL.