Barriers to communication

From CEOpedia | Management online

Barriers to communication are all the factors that cause failure of communication. Communication is successful when it is understood by the receiver. The receiver must get the meaning of the message as exactly as the sender wants to convey it. So many factors are involved in the process of communication. There may be so many reasons for the failures of communication or miscommunication. Miscommunication does not imply disagreement. It is called lack of communication. In large part, communication is about explicit language speaking and writing words but communication is also about implicit messages, such as tone, or eye contact.

The most marked barriers to communication

We can list some barriers to communication that are the most common (Jureddi D. N., Brahmaiah N., 2016):

  • Noise. Often an oral communication is impeded through interruption. If two persons are interacting, third person comes and interrupt conversation; it is a barrier to communication. If there is a telephone call which impede the communication; it is a barrier to communication. This kind of barrier to communication; is known as "noise" and this is the commonest barrier to communication as it happens quite often.
  • Code. To ensure effective communication the addresser and the addressee must share the same language. If the addressee speaks French and the addresser speaks English this language barrier will affect the process of communication. Even if they share the same language the level of difference in the competence in the use of language of the sender and receiver may affect the smooth process of communication and may act as barrier to communication.
  • Vocabulary. If the sender uses the subject specific vocabulary if may not be understood by the receiver. If the speaker is a scientist and the listener knows nothing about science the terminology used by the sender will not be understood by the receiver. This will act as a barrier of communication.
  • Background. To make the communication effective and successful the sender and the receiver must share common background and assumptions. Lack of common background may make the comprehension of the message difficult and act as a barrier to communication.
  • Cultural Differences. If the sender and the receiver do not share common culture the use of culture specific vocabulary may impede the process of communication and may act as barrier to communication.
  • Environmental Disturbances. Environmental disturbances can impede communication. Even physical distance between the sender and the receiver can harm the process of communication.
  • The Emotional states. Effective communication may be affected by the emotional states of the sender and the receiver. Mental state like anxiety, fear, lack of mutual trust and rivalry may become barrier to communication.

Barriers on the side of the sender

There are some crucial barriers that the pertain to the sender (S. Mittal, 2018):

  • If the message is not properly planned before its delivery, the transmission of the message will have lack of clarity, precision and accuracy. The sender of the message should plan his message ahead,
  • Sometimes the sender assumes that the receiver will understand what has already been conveyed. He / She assume that the receiver is supposed to know the background and context of the matter. These assumptions can become a barrier to communication. To overcome this barrier while planning the message the sender should try to understand the receiver's background and his / her knowledge of the subject,
  • If the sender lacks command over language and is unable to use appropriate and exact words the message will not be correctly understood by the receiver. The sender is expected to have complete command over language and he / she must choose his /her words very carefully,
  • In professional dealings feelings like hatred, indifference, jealousy and prejudices have no place. While communicating the sender should take care that his / her personal liking or disliking or moods do not affect the smooth run of the communication.

Barriers on the side of the receiver

The barriers that the receiver has to grapple with (S. Mittal, 2018):

  • The communication may not be received or understood correctly because of some lapses at the receiver's end. In the case of oral communication there may be disturbances caused by the noise,
  • Such barriers to communication can be avoided if the receiver of the communication receives the communication in a place that is avoided by noises,
  • If the listener does not have the professional attitude towards his / her job or the professional training He / She may become inattentive. He / She may not pay the requisite attention to the communication due to boredom or because the subject is not of his / her interest,
  • Some receivers suffer from weaknesses like rigid beliefs and non-flexible approach. They are not interested in new ideas. This is also a barrier to communication. The receiver of the communication must rise above all these weaknesses and shows great maturity in receiving and welcoming new ideas and information.

Barriers in organizational communication

In an organization, the communication problems may take place even if the employees come from the same nation. The individual is influenced by multiple levels of culture, each of them contributing in some way to shaping his cultural identity. National culture, which has the greatest influence, may be the basis for creating the cohesion in the organization, beside other values-as its instrument, if it is not the case of a multicultural company. The employees in an organization belong to particular different groups and categories at the same time. This can happen even within the organization, especially when we consider the human being as a whole and we perceive him as the result of influences manifested over time. These influences come from various levels of culture e.g.:

  • National level
  • Regional and / or ethnic and / or religious level
  • Gender level
  • Generation level
  • Level of social class
  • Organizational level

(A. N. Onea, 2012).

Overcoming the barriers

There are some ways to prevent the barriers to communication (S. Mittal, 2018):

  1. The sender must plan his message keeping in mind the cultural, social, geographical and educational background of the receiver.
  2. The sender of the message should create an atmosphere of friendliness and mutual trust through the use of polite language and kind gestures.
  3. The sender must give consideration to ‘what to convey’ ‘where to convey’ and ‘when to convey’.
  4. In case of face-to-face interaction the addresser should reinforce his/her words with action.
  5. The message to be communicated must be clear. Simplicity of language will ensure clarity of the message. The sender should use only denotative word. Connotations suggest some extra meaning and may create confusion in the mind of the receiver

Examples of Barriers to communication

  • The use of jargon or technical language - Jargon is a specialized language used by a particular group, such as professionals, or by people in a certain field or industry. This can be a barrier to communication as the recipient may not understand the meaning of the technical language. For example, in the medical profession, doctors and nurses use a lot of technical language, making it difficult for patients to understand what is being said.
  • Lack of eye contact - Eye contact is an important part of communication, as it allows the speaker to convey emotion, personality, and confidence. Without eye contact, the recipient may miss out on important non-verbal cues, which can be confusing or misleading.
  • Cultural differences - Different cultures have different ways of communicating. For example, in some cultures, people may be more respectful and formal when communicating, while in other cultures, people could be more direct and informal. This can lead to misunderstandings if the recipient is not familiar with the cultural differences.
  • Physical barriers - Physical barriers such as distance, noise, and poor lighting can all make it difficult to communicate. This can be especially true in workplaces, where people may be working in different locations or in noisy environments.
  • Poor listening skills - Listening is a key part of communication, as it allows the speaker to understand the message. If the receiver is not paying attention or is distracted, they may miss important points or misunderstand the message.
  • Fear or lack of trust - Fear and lack of trust can be a major barrier to communication, as people may not feel comfortable speaking openly or may be afraid to ask questions. This can be especially true in a professional context, where people may feel intimidated by their superiors or colleagues.

Other approaches related to Barriers to communication

  • One of the most common approaches related to Barriers to communication is the identification of barriers. This includes identifying the physical, psychological, or environmental barriers that may prevent the successful delivery of a message. These could include noise, cultural differences, language barriers, technical issues, or lack of access to information.
  • Another approach is to focus on improving communication skills. This includes developing effective verbal and nonverbal communication, active listening, and problem-solving skills. This can also involve identifying and addressing any potential misunderstandings or misinterpretations.
  • Additionally, improving communication channels can also be beneficial. This includes using the most appropriate means of communication for the audience, such as face-to-face, telephone, or video conferencing. It also involves ensuring that the medium used is secure and that confidential information is kept confidential.
  • Finally, it is important to ensure that communication is clear and concise. This involves using language that is appropriate to the audience and ensuring that the message is easily understood.

In summary, Barriers to communication can be identified, addressed, and prevented by improving communication skills, using the most appropriate channels, and ensuring that the message is clear and concise.

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Author: Katarzyna Górna