Impactful Communication: Achieving Success in the Workplace with the SLOW Model

Manfred Rump

Impactful Communication at Work
VIDEO With english subtitles

In today’s fast-paced and digital work environment, effective communication is becoming an increasingly vital skill. But what exactly does effective communication mean, and why is it so important? In this article, we explore the essential aspects and show how all employees can strengthen this competency in their work environment.

What is Impactful Communication?

Impactful communication encompasses the ability to convey clear, precise, and targeted messages that are received and understood by the recipient. It involves avoiding misunderstandings, fostering an open and transparent communication culture, and ensuring that all parties are on the same page.

The main components of effective communication include:

  • Clarity: Messages should be unambiguous and concise.
  • Empathy: Empathy helps us to understand and respond to the perspectives and needs of others.
  • Active Listening: This means giving the speaker full attention and providing feedback.
  • Nonverbal Communication: Body language, facial expressions, and gestures complement and reinforce verbal messages.
  • Openness and Transparency: Sharing information openly builds trust and credibility.

Bettina Hegmann, a communication expert and speaker of the course "Impactful Conversations," has developed and implemented successful communication strategies over several years. Learn more about the concrete methods in the interview:

Our course "Impactful Conversations" is part of the Power Skills "Communication." Discover now which other skills will be important in the future and how you can develop them with Masterplan! →

The Importance of Impactful Communication in the Workplace

In the professional environment, impactful communication is crucial for a company's success. It influences nearly all aspects of work life and significantly contributes to a positive and productive work environment.

Here are some reasons why this skill is particularly important for employees:

1. Promoting Collaboration

Effective communication facilitates collaboration between different teams and departments. It fosters a shared understanding of goals and tasks, leading to better coordination and increased efficiency. Clear communication can minimize misunderstandings and conflicts, contributing to more effective and harmonious working relationships.

3. Supporting Change

In times of change, communication is key to keeping employees informed and reducing resistance. Leaders can ease the transition to new processes and structures through targeted communication strategies, increasing acceptance among employees.

3. Increasing Employee Satisfaction

Employees who feel well-informed and heard are more satisfied and engaged. Effective communication creates a work environment where employees can freely express their opinions and ideas, leading to higher motivation and employee retention.

4. Effective Knowledge Management

Every employee is responsible for conveying and managing information within the company to varying degrees. Therefore, clearly and effectively communicated learning content and development programs are crucial for all colleagues to acquire and apply the necessary knowledge.

The SLOW Model: A Guide to Effective Communication

To provide leaders with a practical tool, communication expert Bettina Hegmann developed the SLOW model. SLOW stands for Sense, Listening, Open, and Why – four steps designed to slow down and enhance communication.

<span style="color: #fc6676">S</span>ense: The Importance of Perception

The first step of the SLOW model, "Sense," refers to the importance of one’s perception. It is essential to be aware of how our perceptions and assumptions influence our communication. Take time to understand the situation and the perspective of your conversation partner before acting.

<span style="color: #fc6676">L</span>istening: Active Listening

"Listening" emphasizes the importance of active listening. This means not only hearing the words of your conversation partner but also understanding the meaning behind them. By actively listening, you can build a deeper connection and strengthen trust.

<span style="color: #fc6676">O</span>pen: Openness to More Than One Solution

"Open" means the willingness towards  various solutions. In other words, the ability to go beyond your own ideas and look for common solutions that benefit all parties. This openness fosters creativity and innovation.

<span style="color: #fc6676">W</span>hy: Reflection and Self-Awareness

The last step, "Why," involves reflecting on your own behaviors and motives. By questioning your actions, you can improve your communication and avoid misunderstandings.

Practical Example: The SLOW Model in Action

Imagine you have a team meeting where a misunderstanding occurs. One of your colleagues – let's call her Lisa – feels attacked by the comments of another colleague, let’s say Markus. Here’s how the SLOW model can help to alleviate this situation:

  1. Sense: You observe the body language and nonverbal signals of Lisa and Markus. Lisa appears defensive, while Markus seems irritated.
  2. Listening: You listen actively to both parties and ensure you understand each person's perspective.
  3. Open: You encourage both to share their viewpoints and look for a solution that satisfies both. Perhaps a clarifying conversation in private would help.
  4. Why: You reflect on why Lisa feels attacked and why Markus reacted as he did. There may be deeper issues that need to be addressed.

Misunderstandings often arise because a single statement can contain a variety of messages. The Communication Square provides an overview of the dimensions within a message and how you can communicate better based on this understanding.

The Communication Square: A Model for Better Understanding

The Communication Square by Friedemann Schulz von Thun provides valuable insights into how messages can be interpreted. This model shows that every message has four different coexisting levels of meaning.

  1. Factual Information: This level focuses on the content of the message – what information is being communicated?
  2. Self-Revelation: This level reveals something about the speaker – what do they disclose about themselves?
  3. Relationship Indicator: This level shows how the speaker relates to the recipient and what they think of them.
  4. Appeal: This level encompasses what the speaker wants to achieve with the recipient.

The Communication Square by Friedemann Schulz von Thun

Applying the Communication Square in the Workplace

The Communication Square helps understand and analyze the complexity of communication better. In the workplace, leaders and employees can use this model to avoid misunderstandings and improve communication effectiveness.

Here are some examples of how the Communication Square can be applied:

  • Giving Feedback: In feedback discussions, it's important to consider all four levels. Clear factual information should be stated, self-revelation should be honest, the relationship indicator respectful, and the appeal constructive.
  • Project Meetings: During project meetings, the Communication Square can ensure that all aspects of an update are communicated clearly. For example, a team member might give a status report (factual information), express their opinion on the progress (self-revelation), clarify their relationship with the project team (relationship indicator), and suggest specific actions or changes (appeal).
  • Email Communication: The Communication Square can also be applied in written communication, such as emails. When writing an email, ensure that the factual information is clear and understandable, personal opinions and viewpoints (self-revelation) are transparent, the relationship with the recipient remains respectful (relationship indicator), and the desired actions or responses (appeal) are clearly formulated.

10 Tips for Effective Communication in Daily Work

To avoid misunderstandings and be effective in daily exchanges with colleagues, you can follow these ten tips:

  1. Communicate Clearly and Directly: Use the Communication Square as a guide and formulate your messages clearly and directly to avoid misunderstandings. Use simple and understandable language.
  2. Practice Active Listening: Follow the SLOW model and show that you are listening attentively by nodding, making eye contact, and occasionally confirming. Repeat key points to ensure you have understood them correctly.
  3. Ask Open-Ended Questions: Open-ended questions help to get more detailed answers and keep the conversation flowing. Try, "How do you see the situation?" instead of "Do you think it's good?"
  4. Give and Seek Regular Feedback: Give regular constructive feedback and actively seek feedback on your own communication.
  5. Show Empathy: Put yourself in your conversation partner’s shoes and show understanding for their perspectives and feelings.
  6. Use Body Language Consciously: Pay attention to open and inviting body language. Avoid crossed arms and maintain eye contact to signal interest and engagement.
  7. Take Short Pauses: Allow short pauses between your sentences to give the other person time to process and respond.
  8. Confirm Important Information in Writing: After important conversations or meetings, summarize the main points in writing and share them via email to avoid misunderstandings.
  9. Balance Positive and Negative Feedback: Ensure to give both positive affirmations and constructive criticism. This promotes an open and trusting atmosphere.
  10. Pay Attention to Tone: Your tone can be as important as your words. Ensure to use a friendly and respectful tone, even in stressful situations.

Measures to Promote Effective Communication

To promote effective communication in the workplace, you as a leader can suggest or implement the following measures:

  • Training and Workshops: Offer regular training sessions on communication skills to strengthen employees' competence in this area
  • Establish a Feedback Culture: Encourage colleagues to give and accept constructive feedback to enable continuous improvement.
  • Utilize Technology: Use modern communication tools that facilitate the exchange of information and collaboration.
  • Lead by Example: Demonstrate effective communication practices yourself and encourage others to follow your example.

Conclusion: Impactful Communication, an Indispensable Skill

Impactful communication is a necessary skill for everyone in the company! It is the 

foundation for creating a positive and productive corporate culture, supporting change, and increasing employee satisfaction and performance. By promoting clear, empathetic, and transparent communication strategies, you can make a significant contribution to your company's success.

Impactful Communication in the Company – Achieve it with Masterplan

Impactful communication is a skill that all employees need – for the present day and in the future. At, we promote this skill through our Power Skills! "Communication" is one of seven core competencies, which also include skills in areas such as digital and data literacy, emotional intelligence, and global awareness.

Discover which Power Skills will be important for the future and how companies can efficiently develop them in this blog article!

Power Skills for a Successful Future

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Manfred Rump

Manfred Rump is Senior Content Marketing Manager at Masterplan. In the blog, he shares insights from his conversations with learning experts and highlights current learning trends in companies.

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