This article contains insights on the 12 common barriers of communication and how to reduce or avoid them.
It is one thing to communicate and another thing to communicate effectively. Everyone tries to communicate but not all do so effectively and the question is why?
Why is it that many people do not communicate effectively even after inputting much effort to ensure that the recipient understands the message? The simple answer is communication barriers.
Communication barriers are anything that prevents or hinders the communicator/sender from delivering the right message to the receiver at the right time. Sometimes, these barriers are no fault of the sender. Thus, barriers to effective communication are numerous and could include, psychological, emotional, linguistic, physical, and cultural etc.
LIST OF COMMON COMMUNICATION BARRIERS
Below are common communication barriers in detail.
1. PHYSICAL BARRIERS
As the name implies, they are the most obvious barriers to effective communication. These barriers are mostly easily removable.
This is a common type of barrier experienced in our daily lives especially in companies. Due to recent changes in the world, many companies now depend on digital means of communication as a result of social distancing which led some organizations to remote ways of working. Such barriers can have an adverse effect on an organization that doesn’t know how to leverage technology to eliminate communication challenges.
Sometimes, in a large office, the physical separation between various employees combined with faulty equipment may result in severe barriers to effective communication. Physical communication barriers include noise, remote working, faulty equipment used for communication, etc.
2. PSYCHOLOGICAL/ EMOTIONAL BARRIERS
Sometimes, the mental state of either or both the sender and receiver can affect the communication process. There are numerous mental and psychological issues that may be barriers to effective communication. The emotional level of a person can determine the ease with which information is communicated. A person who is emotionally stable will be able to communicate effectively and vice versa. Some people have stage fear, speech disorders, phobia, depression etc. All of these conditions are very difficult to manage sometimes and will most likely limit the ease of communication
Certain disorders or diseases or other limitations could also prevent effective communication between the various channels of an organization. The shrillness of voice, dyslexia, etc are some examples of physiological barriers to effective communication. However, these are not crucial because they can easily be compensated and removed.
3. CULTURAL BARRIERS OF COMMUNICATION
As the world is getting more and more globalized, and technologically inclined
Culture is a way of life. Different cultures have a different meaning for several basic values of society. Dressing, food, drinks, pets, and the general behaviour all make up culture. Hence it is important that these different cultures should be considered while communicating. In many multinational companies, special courses are offered at the orientation stages that let people know about other cultures and how to be courteous and tolerant of others. This is why it’s important to have an idea of different cultures.
4. LANGUAGE/ CULTURAL COMMUNICATION BARRIERS
How would you feel if I wrote this in German language? Won’t it look strange to you?; Apart from that there’s no way you can understand what I wrote which means I have not communicated effectively. Communication is a two way thing meaning that the next person must be able to understand.
Language barriers refer to how a person speaks both verbally and nonverbally. Speaking different languages, having strong accents, using slangs, etc, can frustrate communication and negotiation efforts. However, these communication barriers present just a high-level overview of the cause of inefficient communication. Let’s take a deeper look into some of the most common communication barriers that employers face today.
This is one of the main barriers that limit effective communication. Language is the most commonly employed tool of communication. The fact that each major region has its own language is one of the Barriers to effective communication. Sometimes even a thick dialect may render the communication ineffective. Thus, it is important to find a common ground for effective communication.
5. TECHNOLOGICAL BARRIERS
Technological barriers is another form of communication barrier. Over the years there has been a rapid advancement in technology. This in a way has an impact on communication. While there is a positive side to rapid increase in the level of technological advancement, there is no doubt that it has its negative effects on communication. This is to say that technology aids better communication and is also a barrier to communication.
With the speedy development in technology, it becomes difficult to keep up with the newest developments. Also, the cost of technology is sometimes very high.
This, not every individual or organization can afford some of the newest technology. Hence, this becomes a very big barrier.
Other communication barriers include:
6. ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE BARRIERS
There are many methods of communication at an organizational level and each of these methods have shortcomings. However, a complex and rigid organizational structure is usually the major factor for inefficient communication, thus making it one of the most common communication barriers.
In such organizations there may be inefficient information sharing and communication systems, often resulting in a lack of engagement due to numerous processes.
In other words, if a company is highly hierarchical and structured, information can easily get lost or distorted as it travels through each layer of the hierarchy.
7. PERCEPTION BARRIERS
People differ so also is our perception.
Different people perceive the same things differently. This is a fact which we must consider during the communication process. Knowledge of the perception levels of the audience or the recipient is crucial to effective communication. There shouldn’t be any room for a diversified interpretational set.
8. COMMUNICATION SKILLS AND STYLES
People have different communication skills and styles. Sometimes, the difference in communication skills can cause communication barriers between the sender and the receiver of the message.
Some use detailed data, while others rely on generalities, and so forth. You might hear comments such as, “Mary never explains what she wants me to do, she’s never specific”
Too little information is not good, but too much information can cause even more damage. Information overload has always been one of the biggest communication barriers. Moreover, information overload has proved to have a very negative impact as it can lead to disinterest.
Effective communication is about engagement between the parties involved in communication. When there is no interest and engagement from both parties, this ruins the aim of effective communication. So, first understand what works best for your audience or receiver and apply it while communicating
9. WRONG COMMUNICATIONS CHANNELS
Before now, there were only few communication channels in existence but recently there are lots of different communication channels people use nowadays. The likes of different social media platforms like WhatsApp, Zoom, down to emails, TV, radio, etc. Such complexity in the communication system makes it hard for people to make sure that they use the right channels to inform people and deliver relevant information in a timely manner.
For instance, an employer wants his P.A to get him a cup of coffee. Rather than send a direct message or even put a call across, he decides to send the message via an email. There is every possibility the P.A may not access the mail till the close of work. If the message doesn’t get a feedback, which is receipt of a cup of coffee, it shows there was a barrier in communication.
This goes to entrepreneurs who choose the wrong channels to advertise their products and services. Channels of communication can sometimes pose a barrier.
10. CLARITY AND CONSISTENCY
This is another barrier of communication not always taken seriously. Inorder for a message to be communicated effectively, it has to be clear and consistent. When messages across different channels are not consistent, there will be lack of trust and understanding. This is one barrier public speakers and influencers need to take seriously.
As one in this field, communicating in clear and consistent terms should be the goal to avoid misinterpretation.
11. LACK OF TRUST
If you’re a person or an organization that do not keep to your words, there is already a laid down barrier in communication. When there is no trust, there is no effective communication. When you’re not trusted no one will ever pay attention to any information you want to share. It is extremely difficult to communicate anything when there is a lack of transparency and trust.
This is the reason why one of the main goals for organizations across the world has become to build trust in the workplace.
For instance, you’re known amongst your peers as one who says A and go ahead to do B, so to say you don’t keep the your words and one-day, you were very sick and needed the financial assistance of a friend, then you send an urgent message across to a friend asking for a certain amount loan. The truth is, you may never get a feedback from such a friend because they will certainly call your bluff thinking it’s one of your skims to get money which will never be repaid.
Active listening is an important aspect of effective communication. You cannot engage with someone if you are not listening to them. This is because you will get the wrong message and tend to make assumptions.
Communication should always be a two-way thing and not one directional. No matter who and where and what’s been spoken about, listening is important and when the reverse is the case, there will always be wrong assumptions and feedbacks.
Some relationships are having problems today because the partners have failed to listen to each other. When you don’t pay attention, communication will never be effective.
WAYS ON HOW TO AVOID/REDUCE COMMUNICATION BARRIERS
Hence to avoid/reduce barriers in communication
- Try as much as possible to use the right channels
- Work on the technological and physical barriers that could be avoided. For instance, noise is a barrier that can be avoided.
- Work on the psychological barriers too.
- Endeavour to be clear and consistent enough while communicating with others to avoid building doubts in the minds of those receiving the message.
- A very important one is to ensure you’re communicating in a language everyone can understand.
We communicate with people each on a daily basis whether planned or unplanned. We communicate through conversation, our expressions and body language, social media, email, telephone, etc. We rely on our communication skills to build our friendships, repair marriages, purchase a car, express our opinions, ask for help, negotiate deals, accept job offers, etc.
Communication barriers does not only hinder personal relationships but can also obstruct professional associations However, there are ways to reduce their negative consequences and make communication more effective.
Communication barriers can never be completely eliminated. Finding out the causes of barriers in communication and a better understanding of people’s communication preferences are the most important prerequisites for effective communication.
Regardless of the type of communication: verbal, nonverbal, written, listening or visual, if we don’t communicate effectively, we put ourselves and others at risk. Besides physical and technical barriers, there are six barriers to effective communication every employee and manager should strive to eradicate.
Since we communicate so frequently through various modes, we should be know some of these barriers and device a means to avoid or tackle them.
With the information in this article, you should be able to identify the barriers that affect you more as an individual and work on it.
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