Ever heard of the 5 C’s of communication? Communicating effectively in the workplace is essential and has a direct impact on productivity, employee safety, and employee engagement (as highlighted by Gartner who found that ineffective communication was the cause of 70% of corporate errors).

Great communication, in other words, is an essential tool for every company and promoting the understanding of communication skills makes sense.

In this post on communication, I want to introduce you to the five C’s of communication.

The 5 C's of communication explained

The 5 C’s of Communication

The 5 C’s are quite commonly used when teaching communication skills and these C’s are:

  • Clarity
  • Concise
  • Concrete
  • Correct
  • Complete

Let’s delve into each of the 5 C’s of communication and look at a few examples of each.

1. Clarity (and Clear)

One of the most important 5 C’s of communication is clarity (although some people use the word ‘Clear’ to explain the same thing).

To be clear is to be understood!

So, rather than using terminology and a discourse that others will not fully understand, speak and communicate in a way that is easy to understand and is clear.

Avoid vague messages and responses that do not directly answer others’ questions.

The mistake many of us sometimes make is to try and impress others, particularly in the corporate world. The problem though is that in trying to be too clever in our communication, we leave room for misinterpretations.

Define your terms, break down complex ideas, and set the context in a manner that directs your communication clearly.

Some examples of being ‘clear’:

  • Instead of “We need this by Thursday,” you could say, “I need this report by 3 pm on Thursday so that I can send it to senior management.”
  • Instead of “Our numbers are down,” say, “Compared to last quarter, sales have decreased by 10%.”

2. Concise

If you read the 80 effective communication quotes, you might have seen the quote “Brevity is the soul of wit” by William Shakespeare.

By being concise you leave less room for misunderstanding. Otherwise, overexplaining and adding in surplus information can lead to confusion.

Furthermore, in business, time is money, and many meetings and discussions can often be greatly reduced to improve productivity.

A concise message is distilled to its essential elements, saving both your time and your recipient’s. It focuses on the ‘need-to-know’ without compromising on critical details.

  • Cut unnecessary words and phrases that dilute your main points.
  • Use bullet points to highlight key messages effectively.

3. Concrete

Communication the 5 Cs and the word concrete

Communication should also be specific and hence concrete.

By concrete, when talking about the five cs of effective communication, we mean framing abstract ideas with tangible examples.

It nurtures trust by providing something solid to latch onto.

When you articulate with specifics, you ensure that your audience is not left to their imagination but is firmly rooted in reality.

  • Instead of “Our products are of high quality,” say, “Our products undergo three levels of stringent quality checks.”
  • Instead of “The system needs to be more efficient,” say, “We’re aiming to reduce processing times from two hours to 30 minutes.”

4. Correct

Fact-checking is a term that is becoming common these days, as we become ever more aware of the need for accurate and correct information, in an era, one might argue, of misinformation.

Being correct in communication is important because it helps us build trust in the workplace and with customers.

Aligned with all the facts and pertinent to your audience, a correct message ensures that your exchanges are not only right but also resonate in the right way.

  • Double-check facts and figures before communicating them.
  • Consider the relevance of the information you are sharing.

5. Complete

Completeness in the 5 C’s of communication signifies that you have covered the topic comprehensively.

It addresses not just the `what`, but also the `why`, `how`, and `when`.

In business, this is vital for ensuring that all points are addressed, all questions answered, and all potential issues foreseen.

  • Use a communication checklist to ensure all aspects of your message are included.
  • Anticipate the recipient’s inquiries and pre-emptively answer them.

Tips for Improving Your Communication Skills

Mastering the 5 C’s of communication is an ongoing process as communication like any soft skill, needs to be learned.

Here are some actionable tips to elevate your communication:

  • Regularly assess emails, reports, and presentations for conciseness, using word limits as a practice tool.
  • Attend workshops and seminars focused on various aspects of the 5 C’s.
  • Observe and learn from master communicators, dissecting their methods and incorporating successful techniques into your own style.

Effective communication at work benefits not just productivity, but also creates a better work atmosphere for employees. It helps create better team unity by helping to avoid misunderstandings and conflict.

As a business (or as a manager), try to remember the 5 C’s and use them to improve your communication skills.

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Dr Valeria Lo Iacono