Communicate Effectively in the Office

Nothing frustrates workers more than unclear instructions and poor communication. In fact, in an article called “Ten Things Employees Dislike Most About Their Employers” author Jan Stringer, PhD lists poor communication as the number 1 complaint by office workers.

Putting extra thought into written communication gives employees more confidence in themselves and their managers. Avoiding some common mistakes will clarify written communication. When emails, memos, job descriptions or other office documents, avoid:

  • Weak Subject and verb
  • Passive Voice
  • Stacked Nouns
  • Unnecessary Words

All these writing mistakes are common for those who don’t write professionally. It’s amazing how simply correcting these mistakes makes a worker appear as though he or she has been a technical writer for years.

Weak Subject and Verb

Without going deep into a grammar lesson, here are a few examples of how to clarify written communication by keeping the subject and verbs strong and clear.

Bad Example:

Progress will be made by the marketing team to meet this quarter’s goals.


The marketing team is progressing toward meeting this quarter’s goals.

This puts the main subject of the sentence as the strong subject and it provides a strong action verb for what the subject is doing.

Passive Voice: Bad Office Communication

Nothing is more tempting for many office workers than using the passive voice when writing memos or emails. The passive voice keeps things sounding vague and hopeful, leaving the writer as seeming noncommittal should things change. And it also leaves the writer seeming like a bad communicator. A strong, active voice in writing gets straight to the point, leaving no room for misinterpretation.

Bad Example:

The report is turned in by marketing every Monday. The report is then reviewed by accounting, and a response email is given.

The strongest indicator of when the passive voice is being used is too many is, was, or have beens followed by a past tense verb, like performed or reviewed. This makes for sloppy writing. Instead, use present tense writing to make writing clear and easy to comprehend.


Marketing turns in the report every Monday. Accounting reviews the reports on the same day then sends out a response email.

See how the solution flows? An active, present tense voice is imperative for successful written communication.

Stacked Nouns, Too Many Word Lead to Confusing Office Writing

Sometimes poor communication comes from an attempt to be too thorough in writing. Too many words or a noun structure leads too more confusions instead of less.

Bad Example:

The marketing group recently reviewed and purchased speaker performance enhancement (SPE) software and hardware which will be a great, positive and valuable asset to our company.


The software purchased by the marketing group will enhance our team’s speaking performances and be an overall asset to the entire company.

Cleaning up the wording makes the message stand out clearly.

By avoiding weak verbs, passive voice and unnecessary words, anyone can make their office writing clear and concise.

1 comment:

  1. is that all? how about the medium of communication, the heirarchy, etc.?