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The 5 Cs of Effective Communication

The Highrise Team
October 11, 2022
Some executives sitting on a table and discussing 5 cs of communication
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There's nothing worse than when you're at work trying to give input on a project or meeting and feeling as if you're not being heard. A lack of dynamic communication in the workplace is a huge sign that there's a deeper issue in the workplace. 

A lack of effective communication, whether written or verbal, can make going to work every day frustrating and draining. Communicating effectively and understanding the different communication styles in the workplace can increase productivity and create a more trusting relationship with coworkers.

What Are the 5 Cs of Communication?

So, how do you drive the conversation forward and build a trusting relationship when you feel like no one is listening to you? The five c's of effective communication are an excellent solution to ineffective workplace communication. Here are the five c's of effective communication.

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1. Clear

The first C of effective communication is to be clear in all your communications, written or verbal. You'll want to take full ownership of what you need from who you're talking to and the ideas you're trying to share. 

Before you begin communicating the issue or ideas you have, you'll want to identify what exactly you need or want from the person you're speaking to. 

Hypothetically, let's say you felt your boss or coworker was overlooking you in a meeting. You'll want to identify how that makes you feel and take responsibility for communicating that through conversation. 

The best way to communicate clearly is to avoid being judgmental of the other person, avoid getting defensive and limit your emotional reaction to the situation.

Staying objective and as straightforward as possible is the best way to start communicating and hopefully get the positive outcome you desire. If you're writing to someone, keep every sentence short and clear.

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2. Concise

Being concise isn't just for written communication. You can be just direct and to the point when using verbal communication with time and practice. It's easy to use filler words such as "like" and "um" when speaking, but the second C of speaking effectively is being concise. You'll never want to start a sentence with "so" or another filler word.

The less wordy your communications are, the better. You'll want to focus on your point and get to it in the most succinct manner possible when writing or speaking to your audience.

Keeping your requests direct can help drive the conversation forward and allow you and the other person to tackle the issue directly.

Some executives sitting on a table and discussing 5 cs of communication

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3. Concrete

Making your request is a critical component of the five c's of effective communication. When you feel shut down in a meeting or other point at work, having a clear understanding of what request you want to discuss is what will help you get there. When making a request, being concrete with it will allow you to communicate effectively.

Once you've made your issue known to whom you're speaking without reacting emotionally, you'll want to devise a suggested solution. Ideally, you'll have an idea of the suggested solution before writing or talking to this person. When constructing your message, start your sentence strong and stick to your point.

Most of the time, when you feel shut down at work, there's a deeper issue at play.

For example, you can ask the person if there is, and your solution might be that you want them to hear you out more in the future.

When speaking in person, maintaining eye contact is a great way to show that you're being direct and honest with them. There is data that shows when you're able to make eye contact with someone, it builds trust and enables you to communicate effectively.

Writing is still a valid option if you cannot communicate verbally with someone. Your message should focus on clarity and a sentence structure that doesn't feel wordy. 

The best thing about using written communication to explain yourself is that you can proofread your sentences for clarity and flow before sending them.

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4. Curious

The ability to communicate effectively isn't just about how you word your requests and issues. It's about being curious. You'll need to be able to listen to what the other person needs in the situation. 

Once you feel like you've gotten your message across, you'll want to listen carefully to what they need to fulfill what you're asking. The person on the other end might be very receptive and eager to rectify the issue, but in some cases, there might need to be a compromise on your part. 

Even if you feel like you're the one hurt in this situation, it's not all about you. To have better communication with your reader or when speaking to them, you need to hear what they have to say too.

When you aren't interested in listening to what they have to say, you're likely to create further problems and not get the outcome you want from your request. Using language that shows you're curious about audience insights and hear the words they're saying.

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5. Compassionate

Last but certainly not least, the fifth C of effective communication is to be compassionate. No one likes to feel like someone's attacking them with words. 

Being compassionate and curious go hand in hand. You'll want to listen carefully to the other person's words and stay objective. Even if you feel you've been wronged, you must put your assumptions aside for communications to work.

When you're speaking compassionately to your audience, they'll feel safer and more likely to help come to a resolution on the issue or honor your compelling request for change. Possessing the ability to express compassion for others is critical in conflict resolution in the workplace. 

A great way to be compassionate when writing or speaking to someone is to suggest solutions that consider both parties' opinions and feelings.

A positive outcome is one that works for everyone and not just you. You'll want to use language like "I feel" and other "I" statements so your reader doesn't feel like you're sending the message it's all their fault and shut down.


If you're looking to improve communications within your company, the five C's of effective communication are beneficial. Being clear, concise, direct, curious, and compassionate are what will bring about better workplace relationships and conflict resolution.

Choosing your words carefully and forming sentences straight to the point is vital. When you can use language that isn't aggressive and is solution-driven, you'll be able to influence others and achieve success at your work site. 

Keep in mind that an executive coach can also help foster effective communication in your workplace. If your company values a growth mindset, implementing these tools and bringing in an executive coach will improve all communications at your job and create a healthier worksite and a more trusting relationship with the person you're in contact with.

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