Effective Communication Strategies For Assistants

Timely and Effective Communication Strategies for Assistants

We all know that communication is the cornerstone of any organization’s success. It is even more important in times of crisis. So how can you effectively communicate with your executive, colleagues, and partners while being sensitive to interpretations and time constraints?

In this blog, we are going to cover how and ways you can use communication to maximize productivity and reach goals. You’ll learn about:

  1. The importance of timely communication and resources to help you execute it.
  2. Keeping people in the loop.
  3. Delivering bad news.
  4. Dealing with emotional reactions.
  5. Tactfully voicing your opinions.
  6. Navigating through different communication styles and choosing the most effective medium to relay important details.

And much more! At the end of this blog, there is a helpful video that goes into detail on parts of the information presented above. If you are ready to better yourself and your career as an assistant, read on.

1. Timely Communication

The adage “timing is everything” holds particularly true in the realm of professional communication. The right message at the wrong time can be as ineffective as the wrong message at the right time. As an assistant, your challenge is to strike the perfect balance—ensuring that your communication is not just heard but is also receptive to the needs and readiness of your audience.

This involves a strategic consideration of the “who, what, when, where, and how” of your communication efforts. By prioritizing your messages and choosing the most effective medium—be it emails, calls, or face-to-face conversations—you set the stage for creating win-win situations that enhance productivity and foster goal achievement.

Prioritize your communications by asking yourself questions such as:

  • If I don’t inform my leader or coworker about this, what can be the impact?
  • What damage might occur?
  • What form of communication is proven to be the most effective based on my rapport with the recipient? Do they respond best to emails, calls, text messages, etc?
  • What words can I use in the subject line to address the urgency of my message?

2. Keep Appropriate People in the Loop

In the intricate dance of organizational dynamics, knowing who needs to be informed about what and when is crucial. While the temptation to either overshare or under-communicate is real, the key lies in striking the right balance. This not only ensures that all relevant parties are adequately informed but also builds a culture of transparency and trust. Whether it’s a minor update or a major decision, keeping the appropriate people in the loop is a testament to your strategic thinking and organizational awareness.

3. Delivering Bad News

Delivering bad news is arguably one of the most challenging aspects of professional communication. It requires a delicate balance between honesty, empathy, and professionalism. Here’s how to navigate this difficult terrain effectively:

Communicate Bad News Promptly

The timing of delivering bad news is critical. Delaying the inevitable not only breeds mistrust but can also exacerbate the situation, making the news harder to accept. It’s important to communicate such news as soon as it becomes clear that it needs to be shared. This demonstrates respect for those affected and can help maintain trust in difficult times. When delivering bad news, be direct yet empathetic, acknowledging the impact the news may have on the recipients.

Do Not Just Email

In today’s digital age, it’s tempting to hide behind the screen, especially when delivering unfavorable news. However, email communication lacks the nuance and empathy required for such sensitive exchanges.

Whenever possible, opt for a more personal touch. A face-to-face conversation, although not always easy, allows for immediate feedback, the opportunity to clarify misunderstandings, and the chance to offer support. If geographical or logistical constraints make an in-person meeting impossible, a video call or phone conversation is the next best alternative.

These methods convey a level of personal involvement and care that emails cannot match. If you must start with an email, ensure it is followed up with a more personal form of communication.

Communicate More Than Once

The initial shock of receiving bad news can prevent people from fully processing the information. Therefore, it’s crucial to communicate the message more than once and through different channels. After the initial conversation, follow up with an email summarizing the key points discussed and any next steps. This not only ensures that the message is understood but also provides a reference that recipients can go back to if they need clarification. In subsequent communications, offer updates or additional details as they become available. This ongoing dialogue demonstrates your commitment to transparency and support throughout the process.

4. Dealing with Emotions

People will respond to news, opinions, suggestions, and ideas differently. If you find yourself in a situation where you or the recipient is responding out of emotion, take a moment. If you are communicating the news, be open to the recipients’ position. Let them talk without interrupting. If you can’t agree, end the discussion for the time being. You can say something like “I understand that this is important to you and I want to take some time to process what you have just shared. Let us pick back up on this at a later time. I will reach out via email with some options. Let me know what works best with your schedule.” This allows you to digest the situation, gather your thoughts, and respond with decorum.

5. Tactfully Voice Your Opinions

While we should always be able to tactfully voice our opinions, we need to be extra tactful during delicate times. The reason is that people are extra sensitive during these times.

  • Think about the words you will use.
  • Do you have facts to back up your ideas?
  • Do not verbally attack the person.
  • Be considerate of the person’s opinions.
  • If something is needed from you as a result of the discussion, establish a timeline for sending that information to the person.

6. Navigating Through Different Communication Styles and Choosing the Most Effective Medium

In our trainings, we talk about four styles of communication by referencing colors. Here is a quick overview:

  • Red: Is short and to the point; they are more logic-oriented than “feeling” oriented. Be more businesslike with red.
  • Blue: Is more informal; they can take small pieces of information and connect the dots. This color is creative and sensitive.
  • Yellow: Is like blue, they like to give and receive information but may stray from the subject.
  • Green: Is precise, orderly, structured, detailed, and factual.

You can reference our Communicating In Style, With Style blog for more details on each color as well as our Communication Style Assessment. You will make headway by communicating in the recipient’s style.


In conclusion, effective communication within the professional realm, especially in the role of an executive or administrative assistant, is a multifaceted skill that demands precision, empathy, and strategic timing.

This blog has explored various critical aspects of communication, from the importance of timely information sharing to the delicate task of delivering bad news. We’ve underscored the necessity of keeping the appropriate people in the loop, the art of dealing with emotional reactions, and the importance of tactfully voicing opinions. Additionally, we’ve delved into navigating through different communication styles and selecting the most effective mediums for conveying messages.

Effective communication is not just about transmitting information; it’s about fostering a culture of transparency, respect, and mutual understanding. By applying the strategies and insights shared in this blog, executive and administrative assistants can significantly enhance their communication skills, thereby contributing to their personal growth and the success of their organization.

Remember, in the dynamic and demanding world of executive support, mastering the art of communication is crucial for career advancement and professional excellence. Let’s embrace these competencies and KPIs to set ourselves apart as strategic partners in our organizations, paving the way for a culture of effective communication, one interaction at a time.

Watch Joan's Video on Timely Communication Strategies


Like this article? Share it!

Scroll to Top

Join Our Administrative Community

Join a community of administrative professionals who have taken advantage of our free career development tools. You will receive FREE ACCESS to Webinars, Monday Motivators, Special Discounts, Email Announcements, and much more!
By filling out this form and clicking submit, I agree to receive emails from Office Dynamics International. You may unsubscribe at any time from the bottom of our emails.