Adjust and adapt communication styles to be effective in a diverse workplace

Performance Criteria

  • I recognize the impact of communication  on different people.
  • I consider how different perspectives, situations and contexts  affect meaning and messaging.
  • I can anticipate, plan for and deal with ambiguous and confusing situations.
  • I demonstrate respect for diversity in communication with all people.
  • I select the appropriate communication method for the person/people I’m communicating with.



Definitions – what the terms used in this competency mean

  1. Communication: formal (e.g. meetings), informal (e.g. social event, breaks, kitchen), spoken (e.g. face to face, phone, virtual), written (e.g. email, chat), body language, space and how we use it, facial expressions, appearance, voice, touch, speed, tone, volume
  2. Perspectives: opinions, cultures, language, ability, age, gender, roles, experiences, beliefs, friends, affinity groups



Required knowledge

  1. Basic differences in communication styles
  2. Barriers to effective communications (e.g. impact of culture, age, gender, stereotypes etc on communication)
    • Strategies to overcome communication barriers
    • Impact of cultural values on communication (e.g. low context / high context, direct/indirect, collectivist/individualist, hierarchy/equality)
    • How to identify unwritten rules, ways of doing things, norms, organizational culture (specific to organization)
  3. Ways of adapting to different communication styles
  4. Mindfulness: definition and impact



Example(s) – what might this look like in practice?

  • You observe that a member of your team has misunderstood the intent and meaning of a colleague’s comment.  You use active listening and paraphrasing to further explore the comment with both parties, acknowledging that cultural differences might be a factor.
  • Recognizing that you manage a diverse team with diverse perspectives, you understand that you need to play a stronger facilitative role during meetings, encouraging team members to have patience for others’ perspectives.
  • Knowing that the participants in an upcoming meeting will have diverse perspectives based on their backgrounds, you plan an agenda that allows more time for exploration and mutual understanding of views.
  • You recognize that your direct communication style is offensive and sometimes misunderstood by your colleagues. In which case, you seek out the colleague and attempt to clarify when the situation allows.



Related resources – Strengthen your competencies with TRIEC Learning

  E-Learning: Cross-Cultural Communication in the Workplace
  Videos and guides: Cross-Cultural Teamwork, Scene 3: Delegating Roles and Managing Communication Barriers
  Videos and guides: Cross-Cultural Teamwork, Scene 4: Facilitating Contributions to Team Discussions