Top Menu

Barriers to Effective Communication

ADVERTISEMENTS:

Communication must be transmitted properly with an aim of achieving a certain purpose. In case it is not being obtained in a way the parties want it, there is every possibility that it is being Mis-communicated. Any sort of Mis-communication leads to confusion or flow like a situation which is called a ‘barrier’ to communication. The simple meaning of the word ‘barrier’ is hindrance or difficulties or problems of effective communication. 

Read this article to learn about –  1. Barrier to Effective Communication 2. Language Barriers to Communication 3. Psychological Barriers to Communication 4. Emotional or Psychological Barriers to Communication 5. Organizational Barriers to Communication 6. Personal Barriers to Communication 7. Physical Barriers to Communication 8. Cultural Barriers to Communication 9. What are the Barriers to Effective Communication 10. Overcoming Barriers of Communication

Barrier to Effective Communication

Communication must be transmitted properly with an aim of achieving a certain purpose. In case it is not being obtained in a way the parties want it, there is every possibility that it is being Mis-communicated. Any sort of Mis-communication leads to confusion or flow like a situation which is called a ‘barrier’ to communication. 

ADVERTISEMENTS:

The simple meaning of the word ‘barrier’ is hindrance or difficulties or problems of effective communication. However one cannot point blank states that look like this is the main problem, but in an ordinary prudence, the barriers may be related to message, mode, language, the person’s vocabulary to understand the message, time, technical flows etc. It is practically observed that even a large number of organizational problems are the root cause for barriers to communication. Thus it becomes a foremost duty of everyone involved in the communication process to understand and try to find solutions to these barriers of communication


Language Barriers to Communication


Semantic means pertaining to or arising from the different meanings of words or other symbols. 

Language is our most important and powerful tool of communication; and yet it is a tricky tool that needs skill in handling. First of all, many words have multiple meanings. Just look into a good dictionary and see how many meanings you can find for some commonly used words like “charge”, “spring”, “check”, “suit”, “ring”. The meaning that comes to your mind first depends on your occupation (“charge” may mean electrical charge to an engineering student, but fee/rent to a commerce student). 

Words like “minute” and “wind” are pronounced in two different ways to mean two entirely different things. Some words like “present”, “transfer”, “record” are used as verbs and as nouns with a difference in stress in speaking, but no difference in spelling. A person may be present at a function and receive a present (stress on pre-), and present (stress on -sent) some thoughts on the budget. 

ADVERTISEMENTS:

Similar sounding words like “access” and “excess”, “flour” and “flower”, “cite”, “site” and “sight” can cause misunderstanding in speech. Many people confuse “weak” and “weak,” “steal” and “steel” in writing. 

Adjectives and adverbs like “fast”, “far”, “few”, “early”, “easy”, convey different meanings to different persons depending on their daily activities and way of life. The meaning of descriptive adjectives like “beautiful” and “ugly” depends entirely on personal taste. 

Even a concrete noun like “table” may suggest a writing table or a dining table or a statistical table to different persons; similarly, “chair” could be something to sit on, or a position to occupy. How many ideas does the word “home” convey? 

Emotional and cultural attitudes towards something can evoke different responses in people; for example, “dog” will evoke responses according to a person’s past experience with the animal as well as cultural attitudes towards the animal. 

ADVERTISEMENTS:

Phrases can be more tricky; ‘a red and a blue carpet’ signifies two carpets: one red and one blue. a ‘ red and blue carpet’ is one carpet in two colours. 

Sentences can convey entirely different meanings depending on how they are spoken. Consider the sentence, “What can I do for you?” It means something different with every shift of emphasis from one word to another. In oral communication, the speaker can signify the meaning by emphasising particular words; but in written communication, the reader is in control and may read with different emphasis. 

Technical terms can be a barrier to communication. Such terms are limited to the group of persons who work together, or work in the same kind of occupation; they need to use technical terms in their work. 

Often, these words have other meanings in ordinary language, and are differently understood by people who do not belong to that occupational group. Consider the new meanings given to ordinary words by computer technology; to people who are not familiar with computers, “mouse” is only an animal. 

New words are being coined almost every day; everyone does not understand them and many of them are not in the dictionaries yet. 

More importantly, semantic barriers arise because words mean different things to different persons. It is said, “meaning is in people, not in words.” Age, education, cultural background and many other factors influence the meaning we give to words. 

Semantic barriers are concerned with problems and obstructions in the process of encoding and decoding the message into words or other impressions. The use of different languages, different interpretations of different words and symbols, poor vocabulary and poor grammatical knowledge are some of the semantic barriers. 

(1) Different Languages 

Employees at organizations have no common language. This is an obvious barrier when there is no common vehicle to convey ideas and feelings. This problem is more acute in culturally diversified organizations and multinationals. Even competent translators fail to convey the exact meaning of different words of different languages. 

As the company’s operations expand and extend to different countries, this language barrier widens. 

(2) Different Context for Words and Symbols 

“The meanings of words are not in the words; they are in us,” Hayakawa (authors of Language in Thought and Action) profoundly remarks. Words and symbols used have several meanings depending upon the context in which they are used e.g. 

ADVERTISEMENTS:

(a) Give me water to drink (Here water means glass of water

(b) The water dispute of Punjab-Haryana (Here water means water of river

Unless the context of words and symbols used is known, the receiver may misinterpret them because of his preconceived ideas. Misunderstandings are rules rather than exceptions, because of different presumptions and perceptions. 

(3) Poor Vocabulary 

ADVERTISEMENTS:

Poor vocabulary hinders the communicator to convey written or verbal messages in the right sense. The communicator should know the clear and precise meaning of the used words and their appropriate replacement, if needed. If the inappropriate and inadequate words are used, they will not make clear the idea to be communicated. 

These are to do with the language. It is not very easy to do away with these barriers. 

(i) Most of the messages are badly expressed. Often they are vague and not clear. They suffer from an excess of words or inaccuracy. Uncertainty messages also contribute to their vagueness. Unnecessary repetitions and irrelevant matters in the expression can lead to barriers in the communication. 

(ii) More often negligence of partners is predominant when messages have to be re-routed. Inaccurate translations are the outcome and this becomes a major hurdle in communication. The language that is sometime should be understood by the receiver. 

ADVERTISEMENTS:

(iii) Sometimes it is very difficult to know that the receiver has understood the same meaning as the sender knows or as per the receiver understands it differently, the purpose is lost. Many words have multiple meanings. 

The meaning that comes to your mind first depends on your occupation. For example ‘charge’ may mean electrical charge to an engineering student but fee/rent to a commerce student. 

(iv) In the transmission process the sentences can convey entirely different meanings depending upon how they are spoken. Consider the sentence “what can I do for you”. It means something different with every stage of emphasis from one word to another. 

(v) Within the interpretation process words having different meanings. These words are mostly used to refer to inanimate objects. 

Semantic is the study of words or their meanings. The semantic barriers are those barriers which are related to language.

The chief semantic or language related barriers are as under:

(i) Wrongly Expressed Message:

ADVERTISEMENTS:

Because of the obscurity of language there is always a possibility of wrong interpretation of the messages. This barrier is created because of the wrong choice of words, in civil words, the wrong sequence of sentences and frequent repetitions. In English, language, one word may have more than one meaning. For example, the term “run” has 110 meanings in the dictionary. Of these 71 are as Verb, 35 are noun and 4 as adjective. When the reader or listener draws different meaning of a word than the writer or the speaker, there arises a barrier.

(ii) Faulty Translation:

A manager receives much information from his superiors and subordinates and he translates it for the concerned employees according to their level of understanding. Hence, the information has to be moulded according to the understanding of the receiver. If there is little carelessness in this process, the faulty translation can be a barrier in the communication.

(iii) Unclarified Assumptions:

It has been observed that sometimes a sender takes it for granted that the receiver knows some basic things and therefore, it is enough to tell him about the major subject matter. This point of view of the sender is correct to some extent with reference to the daily communication, but it is absolutely wrong in case of some special message. Special messages should be made absolutely clear otherwise there is a possibility of some wrong action in the absence of clarification.

(iv) Use of Technical Language:

Some people like engineers, quality controllers, etc., do technical work. They have their separate technical language. Their communication is not so simple as to be understood by everybody. Hence, technical language can be a barrier to communication.

Such barriers are obstructions caused in the process of receiving or understanding a message during the process of encoding or decoding it into words and ideas. The linguistic capacity of the two parties may have some limitations, or the symbols used may be ambiguous. 

Symbols may have several meanings and, unless the context is known to the receiver, he is likely to take the meaning of the symbol according to his preconceived notion and misunderstand the communication. For this purpose, a meaningful distinction should be made between inferences and facts. 

ADVERTISEMENTS:

Inferences are meaning taken out of the context of the communication and at times cannot be avoided in communication. Province inferences can give a wrong signal one should be aware of them and analyse them carefully. In case of any doubt, more feedback may be sought. 

(i) Interpretation of Words 

Most of the communication is carried on through words, whether spoken or written. But words are capable of communicating a variety of meanings. It is quite possible that the receiver of a message does not assign the same meaning to a word as the transmitter had intended. 

This may lead to miscommunication. Murphy and Pack in their book ‘Effective Business Communications’ mention that in an abridged dictionary, the little word ‘run’ has 71 meanings as a verb, another 35 as a noun, and 4 more as an adjective. If this word occurs in a message, the receiver is at liberty to interpret it in any of the 110 senses, but if communication is to be perfect, he must assign to it the same meaning as existed in the sender’s mind when he used it. 

(ii) Bypassed Instructions 

Bypassing is said to have occurred if the sender and the receiver of the message attribute different meanings to the same word or use different words for the same meaning. Murphy and Pack have given a classic example of how bypassed instructions can play havoc with the communication process: 

ADVERTISEMENTS:

An office manager handed to a new assistant one letter with the instruction, “Take it to our stockroom and burn it.” In the office manager’s mind (and in the firm’s jargon) the word “burn” meant to make a copy on a company machine which operated by a heat process. 

As the letter was extremely important, she wanted an extra copy. However, the puzzled new employee, afraid to ask questions, burned the letter with a lighted match and thus destroyed the only existing copy. 

(iii) Denotations and Connotations 

Words have two types of meanings: denotative and connotative. 

The literal meaning of a word is called its denotative meaning. It just informs and names objects without indicating any positive or negative qualities. Words like ‘table’, ‘book’, ‘accounts’, ‘meeting’ are denotative. 

In contrast, connotative meanings arouse qualitative judgements and personal reactions. ‘Honest’, ‘competent’, ‘cheap’, ‘sincere’, etc., are connotative words. 

ADVERTISEMENTS:

(iv) Language 

In written or verbal communication, words used are important. A word used in communication may have several meanings. In a face to face communication, it is easy to seek clarification of words used, if any doubt is encountered. In case of doubt, feedback is required. 

Many words which we use informally, may be taken literally in other contexts, i.e., non-friendly situations, or in written communication. Thus, effective communication is idea-centred rather than word-centred. 

The communication may be decoded correctly by the receiver only if the context is known to him; otherwise, it may be incorrectly interpreted. Without context, language is just like an eyesore that irritates our senses and interferes with our perceptions. 


Psychological Barriers to Communication

(i) Status-consciousness 

Status consciousness exists in every organisation and is one of the major barriers to effective communication. Subordinates are afraid of communicating upward any unpleasant information. They are either too conscious of their inferior status or too afraid of being snubbed. Status-conscious superiors think that consulting their juniors would be compromising their dignity. 

(ii) Closed Mind 

A person with a closed mind is very difficult to communicate with. He is a man deeply trained in prejudices. And he is not prepared to reconsider his opinions. He is the kind of man who will say, “Look, my mind is made up. I know what I know. And I do not want to know anything else. 

So just don’t bother me.” You approach such a man with a new proposal to improve his business and he will immediately retort, “Look here gentleman, do you presume that you know my business better than I know? I have been in this line for the last twenty years. What can you teach me?” Such a person is not open to conviction and persuasion. And in all likelihood, he has not learnt anything in the twenty years he has been in business. 

If closed-minded people can be encouraged to state their reasons for rejecting a message or a proposal, they may reveal deep-rooted prejudices, opinions and emotions. Perhaps, one can make an attempt to counteract those prejudices, opinions, etc. But if they react only with anger and give a sharp rebuff to anyone who tries to argue with them, they preclude all possibility of communication. 

(iii) Attitude and Opinions 

Personal attitudes and opinions often act as barriers to effective communication. If an information agrees with our opinions and attitudes, we tend to receive it favourably. It fits comfortably in the filter of our mind. But if information disagrees with our views and tends to run contrary to our accepted beliefs, we do not react favourably. 

If a change in the policy of an organisation proves advantageous to an employee, he welcomes it as good; if it affects him adversely, he rejects it as the whim of the Director.


Emotional or Psychological Barriers to Communication 

i. Premature Evaluation: 

Shallow listening prevents the listener from looking critically into the finer aspects of what the speaker says. In the process, the listener passes a hasty/unfounded remark about the speaker. It is a failure to understand the mental framework of the speaker.

 Often we find that the assumption made by the sender of a message is different from the assumption made by the person who receives the message. This results in delay, loss of good goodwill and non-action. 

ii. Perceptions: 

People see things and react to situations according to their previous experience. Every person brings his or her own background of likes and dislikes and knowledge. Very often this background can be contrary to the listener’s background. 

This creates a barrier in understanding. There is nothing like a ‘real or true’ situation and that everyone perceives things in the light of his or her own past experience. 

iii. Attitude: 

There are certain attitudes of people which may prove to be a barrier to communication. For example, a superior attitude which refers to a feeling of superiority in the sender. The communication begins with the assumption on the part of the receiver that “I know it all”. 

Whatever communication is subsequently sent projects the image that the sender is at a higher plane than the receiver and is being generous in sharing information. 

Communication that begins on an uneven platform can never be successful. The receiver is not too happy with the manner in which the message is formulated and, in the process of trying to assess or evaluate the intent of the sender, misses out on the content of the message. 

Similarly, we find that there are times the speaker is unable to garner the support of the receiver because of excessive focus on “I”. This just goes on to show that the speaker is full of himself instead of bothering about the receiver’s needs. 

iv. Self Image: 

By self-image we mean the picture a person has of himself. Most college boys and girls think of themselves as film heroes or heroines and act accordingly. Old unmarried ladies often have a self-image of themselves as young and attractive.

 Similarly in the business world many persons have a self-image of themselves as being efficient, knowledgeable, qualified, or skillful and this self-image acts as a barrier to their communication with others. 

v. Ego: 

Difference of opinion, or a feeling of hurt limits the listener from concentrating on the speaker’s words and thoughts. The listener might think that his/her ideas are more important than what the others think.

 An egoistic attitude alienates the listener from others. Being right is their motto because they cannot be wrong. Such self-centred listeners are poorly rated than those who are open to ideas. 

vi. Closed Mind: 

The adult human mind usually resists change. When a message is received containing a new idea, the person receiving the message unconsciously becomes inattentive. There are some persons who believe that they know “all” or everything about a subject and will therefore close their minds to new facts or knowledge. This is one of the greatest barriers to communication in life and business. 

vii. Mental Blocks: 

This refers to preconceived ideas and notions which create a block in the mind and prevent the sender from being able to view the issues from the perspective of the receiver.

 It happens mostly in cases where previous experiences at the personal or organizational front create a barrier in the mind of the sender and the process of communication is begun with the block or barrier uppermost in the mind. 

 viii. Emotional Barriers: 

One of the chief barriers to open and free communications is the emotional barrier. It consists mainly of fear, mistrust and suspicion. The roots of our emotional mistrust of others lie in our childhood and infancy when we were taught to be careful what we said to others.

As a result many people hold back from communicating their thoughts and feelings to others. They feel vulnerable. While some caution may be wise in certain relationships, excessive fear of what others might think of us can stunt our development as effective communicators and our ability to form meaningful relationships. 

ix. Inattentiveness: 

This is perhaps the barrier we come across most often. School and college professors find it difficult to teach when the students are inattentive. In the business world too inattentiveness is a great obstacle to effective communication.

 People are inattentive when they are (a) distracted, (b) preoccupied with other ideas and problems, (c) mentally and physically tired or when the mind is ramblin. 

The psychological barriers can be described here: 

(i) People have personal feelings, desires, fears and hopes, likes and dislikes, views, attitude and opinions. Some of these are formed by family background and social environment. They form a sort of emotional filter around the mind and interpret influences on the contents and interpretation of messages. 

(ii) The ‘personal viewpoints’, Intellectual background, attributes, understanding, interpretations, some learning attitudes and narrow mindedness also limits the ability to adopt new ideas. 

(iii) Sometimes we pay attention to the messages which are useful and often do not pay enough attention to those uninterested messages. The self-interest and self-centred attitudes may prevent us from paying attention to others. 

(iv) When we aren’t able to understand the language or any other symbols used in the messages, due to inappropriate or unfavourable level of intelligence. 

(v) Sometimes many of our ideas, feelings, attitudes and values are influenced and picked up from our social circle or a group. We remain loyal with our group to which we belong or a particular class of society. We tend to reject an idea which goes against the interest of the group and it becomes a barrier to communication. 

(vi) Self-image is our idea about what we are, what we look like and what impression we make. It is usually based on some truth and exaggeration of our good points. Due to differences in self-images and feelings, the mental and communicative feedback may differ. 

(vii) If a person feels threatened by a message he becomes defensive and responds in such ways that reduce understanding. Such defensive behaviour develops particularly some harmful barriers in handling complaints, grievances and in resolving conflicts. 

(viii) A superior person who is conscious of status finds it difficult to receive any suggestions from subordinates. People in senior positions often develop the feeling that they know everything about business. They don’t develop their affectionate feelings within their communication with subordinates. 

(ix) Some people strongly avoid or resist new ideas which are against their established opinions or traditions. They feel insecure or afraid of change and do not accept a new concept that goes against their cherished ideas. It creates the communication barrier. 

(x) When any communication is repeated more than the required number of times, it tends to become a hindrance. 

Personal or emotional or psychological barriers arise from motives, attitudes, judgement, sentiments, emotions, and social values of participants. These create a psychological distance that hinders the communication, or partly filters it out, or causes misinterpretation, thereby making the communication inadequate. The following are some emotional barriers: 

(i) Selective Perception 

Most of the factors mentioned above lead to selective perception. It means that the receivers selectively see and hear depending upon their needs, motivations, background, experience and other personal characteristics. While decoding the messages they project their own interests and expectations into the process of communication further leading to a particular kind of feedback. The fact is that we don’t see reality. We interpret what we see and call it reality. 

(ii) Emotions 

Encoding and decoding of messages depends to quite some extent on one’s emotional state at a particular time. Extreme emotions, like jubilation or depression, are likely to hinder effective communication. Anger is the worst enemy of communication. A message received, when one is angry, is likely to be interpreted in a very different manner than when one is calm and composed. Stress may also lead to building up of negative emotions, further leading to communication breakdown. 

(iii) Failure to Communicate 

Sometimes, managers do not communicate the needed messages to their subordinates. This might be because of laziness or habit of delaying on their part, or they arbitrarily assume that everybody has got the information, or they may hide information deliberately to embarrass the subordinates. 

(iv) Distrust of Communicator 

The communicator is sometimes distrusted by his own subordinates. It happens when he lacks self-confidence, or is less competent in his position. He frequently makes ill considered judgements or illogical decisions, and then reviews his own decisions when he fails to implement them. 

Repeated experience of this kind gradually conditions the receiver to delay action, or to act enthusiastically, hence making the communication ineffective, though apparently it is complete. 

(v) Premature Evaluation 

Premature evaluation is a tendency to evaluate a communication prematurely, rather than keeping an open mind during the interchange. Such evaluation interferes with the transfer of information and budgets a sense of futility in the sender. This barrier can be remedied by empathy and non-evaluative listening. 

(vi) Filtering 

Filtering means that a sender manipulates information in such a way that it will be seen more favourably by the receiver. For example, a manager likes to tell his boss what he feels his boss wants to hear. In this process he is filtering information. The result of filtering is that the man at the top perhaps never gets objective information. 

In this connection it is worthwhile quoting what a former Vice President of General Motors says, “… lower-level specialists…provided information in such a way that they would get the answer they wanted. I know. I used to be down below and do it.” 

In the process of filtering the information for onward transmission to the senior executives, the people at the lower levels condense and synthesise it, thus sometimes holding back/ignoring some important parts of information. The more vertical levels in the hierarchical system, the more chances are there for filtering. 

Personal or emotional or psychological barriers arise from motives, attitudes, judgment, sentiments, emotions and social values of participants. These create a psychological distance that hinders the communication or partly filters it out or causes misinterpretation, thereby making the communication inadequate. 

The following are some emotional barriers: 

1. Attitudes: 

The attitude of superiors and subordinates also affects the flow of communication. Superiors may deliberately hide the information to embarrass the subordinates or the superiors might assume that everybody has got the information. 

2. Egoism: 

A person with egoism loses his level of understanding other’s emotions and can never think rationally, it hinders communication process. 

3. Impulsive evaluation: 

Impulsive evaluation is a tendency to evaluate a communication prematurely, rather than keeping an open mind during the interchange. Such evaluation interferes with the transfer of information. 

4. Loss in transmission and retention: 

When communication passes through various levels in an organization, chances of loss of information is more. A study says that workers retain only 50% of information and the supervisors retain 60% of it. 

5. Distrust of communicator: 

If the communicator is sometimes distrusted by his own subordinates, then communication becomes ineffective as there is delay in action. 

6. Lack of concentration: 

The preoccupied mind of the receiver and the resultant non-listening is one of the major chronic psychological barriers. It is a common phenomenon that people simply fail to react to bulletins, notices, minutes and reports. 


Organizational Barriers to Communication

(1) Organizational Rules and Regulations 

Organizational rules and regulations, prescribing the different sub-matter along formal communication may restrict the flow of messages and act as hindrance in the communication process. Sometimes it happens that important messages are omitted or manipulated. 

Observance of rigid rules and regulations relating to communication, causes delay of message and discouragement to employees in conveying their creative and innovative ideas. On the other hand, where such rules and regulations are flexible and communication is free, employees feel encouraged and motivated to come up with new ideas and opinions. 

Z:\2. Proofread\Business Communication (Varinder Kumar) - Working On (Sushree)\Figure\011.jpg

(2) Hierarchical Relationship 

Hierarchical, formal boss-subordinate relationship in organization structure also restricts the free flow of communication especially in upward direction. The greater the difference in hierarchical position, the greater is the communication gap between employees and executives. The employees are expected to contact executives through their immediate bosses.

 In such types of cases, it has been noticed that upward communication is intentionally distorted and designed either with exaggerations or understatements, sometimes with false and fabricated stories to suit the purpose of middle level bosses. This leads to distrust and disappointment among employees and disruption of the congenial communication environment. 

(3) Non-conducting of Staff Meetings 

To overcome the above barrier, certain organizations conduct staff meetings to know the grievances and suggestions of employees. In organizations where such meetings and conferences are missing, free flow of communication is interrupted and the communication gap between persons being ruled and the ruling, widens. 

(4) Wrong choice of channel 

There are many mediums and channels of communication available, like face to face, oral communication, telephonic, E-Mail and audio visual. Each channel is not ideal and perfect in every situation. If persuasion is to be made by a sales manager, face to face communication is more suitable than talking on phone. 

Written communication is required in case of formal relations. But in communicating with illiterate people, this channel fails. Illiterate people are to be communicated orally and with support of pictures. 

Organizational barriers are also an important part within the study of communication barriers. Organizational barriers arise due to defects in organizational structure, centralization, decentralization, equalities, authoritarian system etc. Sometime; we include organizational change and reforming efforts for developing innovative measures. 

The problems or obstacles as given here are being creating the barriers in communication:

  1. Lack of adequate knowledge and skill of people; 
  2. Lack of availability of proper, adequate and complete information about work performance; 
  3. There is lot of time consuming process of managerial control; 
  4. There is negligent behaviour of the higher authorities and managerial cadres; 
  5. There is much emphasis on formal way of communication as well as formal organizational structure; 
  6. There are no ascertained rights and responsibilities of employees in the organization. 
  7. There is lack of group behaviour, group decision, liasioning and self-coordination etc. 
  8. When the scalar chain is unduly long and the distance between top managers and workers increases it causes delay and distortions in the transmission process.

Organisational structure greatly affects the capability of the employees so far as communication is concerned.

Some major organizational hindrances in the way of communication are as under:

(i) Organisational Policies:

Organisational policies determine the relationship among all the persons working in the enterprise. For example, it can be the policy of the organisation that communication will be in the written form. If this message can be expressed in a few words, it will take little time. If the message is transmitted in writing it takes some time. Consequently, work gets delayed,

(ii) Organisational Rules:

Organisational rules become barriers in communication by determining the subject-matter, medium, etc., of communication. Annoyed by the definite rules, the senders hesitate to send some of the messages. On the other hand, where such rules and regulations are flexible and communication is free, employees feel encouraged and motivated to come up with new ideas and suggestions.

(iii) Status Relationship:

In an organisation, all the employees are divided into many categories on the basis of their level. This formal division acts as a barrier in communication especially when the communication moves from the bottom to the top of the organisation. For example, when a lower level employee has to send his message to a superior at the top level there is a lurking fear in his mind that the communication may be faulty and because of this he cannot convey himself clearly and in time. It causes delay in taking decisions.

(iv) Complexity in Organisational Structure:

More managerial levels in an organisation results in delay in communication and information gets changed before it reaches the receiver. In other words, negative things or criticisms are concealed. Thus, more the number of managerial levels in an organisation, the more ineffective the communication becomes.

(v) Less Organisational Facilities:

Organisational facilities mean making available sufficient stationery, telephone, translator, etc. Where these facilities are lacking in an organisation, communication will not be timely, clear and in accordance with necessity.

An organization is a deliberate creation of management for the attainment of certain specific objectives. The day-to-day functioning of the organization is regulated in such a way as to contribute to the attainment of these objectives in the most effective manner. 

For this purpose, a variety of official measures are adopted such as designing of the structure, arrangement of activities, formulation of various policies, rules and regulations and procedures, laying down norms of behavior, instituting a reward and punishment system etc. All these variables markedly affect the organization’s functioning. As such major organizational barriers are: 

(a) Policy of the Organization

The general organizational policy regarding communication provides overall guidelines in the matter. This policy might be in the form of a written document, or it has to be inferred from organizational practice, particularly at the top level. If the policy creates hindrance in the free flow of communication in different directions, communication would not be smooth and effective. 

(b) Organizational Rules and Regulations

More often, different activities of an organization are governed by specific rules and regulations. Such rules and regulations prescribe the subject matter to be communicated as also the channel through it is to be communicated. The rules may restrict the flow of certain messages and may omit many important ones. 

For example, the rules may prescribe that upward communication shall be only through proper channels. Such restrictions may delay the message and may deter employees from conveying any message. An employee may give up the idea of conveying a message to the top executive to avoid the observance of rules. 

The message may be important to the organization. It may also be the case that the superior may not allow him to convey the message. This barrier is strongly operative in Indian Public Sector undertaking where observance of rules and regulations is more rigid. 

(c) Status Relationship 

The placing of people in superior-subordinate relationships in a formal organization structure also blocks the flow of communication and, more particularly, in the upward direction. The greater the difference in hierarchical positions in terms of their status, the greater would be the worry of middle managers about what their senior bosses might think; this leads to their paying little attention to the needs and demands of their subordinates. 

The subordinates are reluctant to communicate, or the managers in the middle of hierarchy may be reluctant to pass on their juniors’ communication to the next higher executive, which their bosses do not like or which may have a negative effect on their own relationships. 

Dislike, distrust, dissatisfaction with job and work environment are other reasons for reluctance to tell anything to their bosses. Such obstruction may be overcome by creating an atmosphere of trust and confidence in the organization. 

(d) Complexity in Organization Structure 

In an organization where there are a number of managerial levels, communication gets delayed as it moves along the hierarchical line. Also, chances of the communication getting distorted are greater as the number of filtering points is higher. This is particularly true in upward communication because people at intermediate levels do not like to pass on negative remarks either of themselves or of their superiors. 

(e) Organizational Facilities 

Certain organizations provide certain facilities for smooth, adequate, clear and timely flow of communication such as meetings, conferences, complaint or suggestion boxes, open door systems etc. If these facilities are not properly emphasized, people generally fail to communicate effectively. 

The day-to-day functioning of the organisation is regulated in such a way as to contribute to the attainment of these objectives in the most effective manner. For this purpose, a variety of official measures are adopted such as designing of the structure, arrangement of activities, formulation of various policies, rules and regulations, and procedures, laying down norms of behaviour, instituting a reward and punishment system, etc. All these variables markedly affect the organisation’s functioning. As such major organisational barriers are: 

(i) Complexity in Organisation Structure 

In an organisation where there are a number of managerial levels, communication gets delayed as it moves along the hierarchical line. Also, chances of the communication getting distorted as greater as the number of filtering points are higher. This is particularly a turn in upward communication because people at intermediate levels do not like to pass on negative remarks either of themselves or of their superiors. 

(ii) Organisational Facilities 

Certain organisations provide certain facilities for smooth, adequate, clear, and timely flow of communication such as meetings, conferences, complaint tor suggestion boxes, open door system, etc. If these facilities are not properly emphasised, people generally fail to communicate effectively. 

(iii) Status Relationship 

The placing of people in superior-subordinate relationships in a formal organisational structure also blocks the flow of communication and, more particularly, in the upward direction. The greater the difference in hierarchical positions in terms of their status, the greater would be the worry of middle managers about what their senior bosses might think. 

This leads to them paying little attention to the needs and demands of their subordinates. The subordinates are reluctant to communicate, or the managers in the middle of hierarchy may be reluctant to pass on their juniors’ communication to the next higher executive, which their bosses do not like or which may have a negative effect on their own relationships. 

Dislikes, distrust, dissatisfaction with job and work environment are other reasons for reluctance to tell anything to their bosses. Such obstructions may be overcome by creating an atmosphere of trust and confidence in the organisation. 

(iv) Organisational Policy 

The general organisational policy regarding communication provides overall guidelines in this matter. This policy might be in the form of a written document, or it has to be inferred from organisational practice, particularly at the top level. If the policy creates hindrance in the free flow of communication in different directions, communication would not be smooth and effective. 

(v) Organisational Rules and Regulations 

More often, different activities of an organisation are governed by specific rules and regulations. Such rules and regulations prescribe the subject-matter to be communicated as also the channel through which it is to be communicated. The rules may restrict the flow of certain messages and may omit many important ones. 

For example, the rules may prescribe that upward communication shall be only through proper channels. Such restrictions may delay the message and may deter employees from conveying any message. An employee may give up the idea of conveying a message to the top executive to avoid the observance of rules. 

The message may be important to the organisation. It may also be the case that the superior may not allow him to convey the message. The barrier is strongly operative in Indian public sector undertakings where observance of rules and regulations is more rigid. 


Personal Barriers to Communication

As communication is basically an interpersonal process, many personal factors inherent in the two parties to communication — the sender and the receiver — influence the flow of communication and present hurdles in a way of effective communication. 

(i) Barriers in Superiors 

As communication is basically an interpersonal process, many personal factors are inherent in the two parties to communicate. The sender and the receiver influence the flow of communication and present many hurdles in the way of effective communication. 

(a) Attitude of Superiors 

General attitude to the superiors about communication, or attitude towards a particular communication, affects the flow of messages in different directions. If the attitude is unfavourable, there is greater possibility of filtering or coupling of the information. Any information received from the top may not reach the bottom in the same form, or even the reverse may happen. 

Managers at intermediate levels may colour the information, sometimes, intentionally, with a view to twist the situation in their favour. In some cases the superior quotes his subordinate incorrectly or may say something against him before his boss just to spoil his career, or his chance of promotion, or his image in the eyes of the boss. 

(b) Fear of Challenge of Authority 

The superiors in an organisation generally try to withhold the information coming down the line or going up as frequent passing of information may disclose their own weaknesses; this generally happens when the superior lacks self-confidence and is afraid that someone else might be promoted in place of these weaknesses were to come to light. 

(c) Insistence on Proper Channel 

There are channels of communication in an organisation along which information passes upward or downward. Some officers insist too much on communication through proper channels. They do not like any bypassing in communication. But, sometimes, bypassing becomes necessary in the interest of the organisation; however, the superiors think bypassing as thwarting their authority and blocking the flow of communication. 

(d) Lack of Confidence in Subordinates 

The superiors generally perceive that their subordinates are less committed and they are not capable of advising their superiors. Therefore they feel, whether correctly or otherwise, that they are burdened and have no time to talk to their subordinates. 

(e) Ignoring Communication 

Sometimes, the superiors ignore a communication or a part of it, to and from their subordinates, to maintain their importance. In some cases, information does not reach the receiver in the same form as it was received from the sender; the superiors filter the information. 

(ii) Barriers Regarding Subordinates 

There are certain factors on the parts of the subordinates which adversely affect their participation in the communication process. Some factors like attitude, lack of time, applicable to the superiors are also applicable here. Two more factors in the subordinates need special attention which are responsible for blocking communication in the upward direction: 

(a) Unwillingness to Communicate: 

The subordinate generally is not willing to communicate upward any information which is likely to adversely affect them. If they feel that supply of such adverse information is necessary for control purposes they would modify it in such a way so as not to harm their interest. 

(b) Lack of Proper Incentive: 

Lack of incentive to communicate also prevents the subordinates from communicating upward. They are pushed down when they perform poorly, but may not be rewarded when they work marvelously well and offer a novel suggestion. 

The superiors assume that better performance on the part of subordinates is their duty towards the organisation or it is in their own interest. The rewards and punishment system, and the attitude of the superiors towards their subordinates are responsible for this agony. If a novel suggestion by a subordinate does not evoke any interest in the superiors, he would not convey it. 


Physical Barriers to Communication 

Obstacles that prevent a message from reaching the intended recipient may be outside and beyond the control of the persons concerned. Some can be controlled by the management; some cannot be controlled because they are in the environment. 

a. Defects in the Medium :

Defects in the devices used for transmitting messages are external and usually not within the control of the parties engaged in communication. The telephone, the postal system, the courier service, or electronic media may fail. Messages can get delayed, distorted and even lost while being transmitted. 

A partial failure of the mechanical equipment is more harmful than a total failure because a partial failure may carry an incomplete or distorted message. A fax message can be wrongly delivered as a wrong number can get dialed on the telephone. The printout may not be clear at all. It is advisable to call up and check that the fax has been received. 

If a medium like the telephone is out of order, the communication may have to be postponed or sent by an alternative medium. 

b. Noise in the Environment :

Noise is any disturbance which occurs in the transmission process. In face-to-face communication which is carried by air vibration, the air may be disturbed by noise such as traffic, factory work, or people talking. In a factory, oral communication is very difficult because of the noise of the machines. 

Organisations that can afford sound-proof rooms can overcome this barrier to some extent. 

c. Information Overload :

When there is too much information, some of it is blocked in transit and may not reach the intended audience. Advertising and sales information is an example of overload; so much communication about products floats through so many media that a good deal of it does not reach the potential buyer. 

Some of the Physical barriers are as follows: 

(1) Noise 

Any disturbance or interference that reduces the clarity and effectiveness of communication is called noise. It may be physical or psychological, written or visual. Noise distracts the person communicating and acts as a barrier to communication. 

Loud noise of speakers playing outside or noise due to machines, affects the listening process of persons communicating (Physical noise). Mental trouble and turmoil affect the receiver’s listening and understanding of the message. Similarly inattentiveness and indifference of the listener make communication ineffective (Psychological noise).

 Bad handwriting and incorrect typing irritates the reader to understand the contents (written noise). The late arrival of employees results in distraction of the superior attention (visual noise). 

(2) Improper time 

Improper timing of communication also hinders the process of communication, e.g., an order at closing hours to execute an urgent work, may cause resentment in the employee who has to catch a train to go back to his house. Messages requiring action in the distant future may be forgotten. A phone call at midnight, interrupting sleep, further irritates the receiver, if the message is not urgent. 

(3) Distance 

The distance between sender and receiver acts as a barrier in the communication process as the sender has to speak loudly to convey the message, similarly in import-export transactions because of distances of miles, communication may be ineffective if proper use of fax, telephone is not made. 

(4) Inadequate or overloaded information 

Inadequate information falls short to convey the message and overloaded information distracts the reader’s attention and dilutes the theme of message. It is imperative that information should be adequate, neither less than desired, nor more than warranted. If this is not so, it fails to serve the purpose of communication. 

The physical barriers are related to the system, persons and physical viability of the resources, some of the physical barriers are given here: 

(i) Sources – 

The source from which the message originates is very important. If the receiver or sender has some indifferent or biased attitude and they have some hostile feelings then the sources are neither trustworthy nor acceptable by the partners. 

(ii) Distance – 

Due to a long distance the partners are not able to make face to face interaction and not hear properly to make worthy relations. 

(iii) Source of Communication – 

If the receivers dislike the source or harbours any prejudice against him, he will automatically not listen to the sender. If the source of communication is unreliable, unjustified and disliked then the source of communication becomes a hurdle. 

(iv) Time – 

If messages get delayed they become redundant and useless. They also create confusion. Communication is useful and effective only if it is conveyed at the right time and to the right person. 

(v) Physical Noise – 

Physical noise which creates disturbances in the environment can be a barrier in the communication process. Both the sender and the receiver can be hampered by it.

 Messages become distorted and also inaudible because of the surrounding noise. For example, when the TV set is on, at a high volume, it becomes difficult to follow a conversation in the same room. 

(vi) Defects in the Medium – 

There may be a defect in the communication device, which is being used. For example, during a speech to a large audience, the microphone does not work properly so the effect of the speech is minimized or may be poor. 

A partial failure of the mechanical equipment is more dangerous than a complete failure, because a partial failure carries an incomplete or distorted message, which may cause a wrong action to be taken. 

(vii) State of Health –
|

A poor physical condition can affect any persons’ efficiency in all working areas. This illness or any ailments can come in the way of speaking and listening. 

(i) Time and Distance 

Time and distance also act as barriers to the smooth flow of communication. The use of telephone along with computer technology has made communication very fast and has, to a large extent, overcome the space barrier. However, sometimes mechanical breakdowns render these facilities ineffective. 

In such cases, the distance between the transmitter and the receiver becomes a mighty barrier. Some factories run in shifts. There is a kind of communication gap between persons working in different shifts. Faulty seating arrangement in the room can also become a barrier to effective communication, for whichever seats the employees may be occupying, they definitely want eye contact with one another. 

(ii) Noise 

Literally the word ‘noise’ means “interference that occurs in a signal and prevents you from hearing sounds properly”. It is, therefore, the first major barrier to communication. In a factory, for example, where there are machines and engines making constant noise, oral communication becomes difficult. 

Blaring loudspeakers around is bound to interfere with our conversation, whether face to face or on telephone. In the same way a static in the transmission line, as in a poor telephone connection or faulty TV cable, distorts the sound signals and affects communication. 

In the same way, some technical problem in the ultramodern communication systems or adverse weather conditions interfering with transmission may lead to major communication barriers/breakdowns. Noise is not just all this. Its wider connotations include many other factors that are likely to hinder communication. 

And these factors may exist at the level of the sender as well as that of the receiver. For example, on the sender’s part encoding may be faulty because of the use of confusing or ambiguous symbols. At the receiver’s level reception may be inaccurate because of inattention. 

Decoding may be faulty because wrong or unexpected interpretation may be attached to words/symbols. Understanding of the message may be warped by prejudices. Desired results may not take place because of fear or inherent resistance to change. In this way we see that noise is not just one single factor but a whole range of factors rolled into one big barricade that we must make every effort to overcome but we cannot push them away. 

Cultural Barriers to Communication 

When the sender and receiver of a communication come from different cultural backgrounds a cultural barrier is erected and messages are misunderstood. Cross cultural barriers are erected by different national and religious backgrounds, different value systems, differences in language and literature and even different perceptions of time.

 Recently, cross-cultural barriers have become very evident on account of the process of liberalisation, globalisation and multi-nationalisation. 

i. Language: 

Taken at its simplest level the language barrier could arise when persons belonging to two language groups try to communicate without a proper knowledge of each other’s language. Imagine a Punjabi speaking foreman instructing a worker from Kerala on how to operate a complicated machine through a mixture of Punjabi, Hindi and broken English. 

ii. Values & Norms: 

Cultural conflicts arise because of the differences in values and norms of people from different cultures. A person acts according to the values and norms of his or her culture; another person holding a different worldview might interpret his or her behaviour from an opposite standpoint. This situation creates misunderstanding and can lead to miscommunication. 

For example, it is quite common in the west for men and women who know each other to lightly kiss each other on the cheek as a form of greeting. In Japan, the accepted form of greeting is bowing. A serious misunderstanding is likely to arise if the European form of greeting is applied in Japan. 

iii. Religion: 

In many cultures, religion dominates life in a way that is often difficult for Americans to understand. For example, workers from some Muslim cultures may want to pray three times a day in accordance with their values and beliefs.

 There may also be religious holidays on which people of certain religions are forbidden to work or need to follow certain customs. These differences need to be respected, where possible, and not ignored. 

iv. Behaviour: 

Each culture has its own rules about proper behaviour which affect verbal and nonverbal communication. Whether one looks the other person in the eye-or not; whether one says what one means overtly or talks around the issue; how close the people stand to each other when they are talking – all of these and many more are rules of politeness which differ from culture to culture. 

Similarly, different cultures regulate the display of emotion differently. Some cultures get very emotional when they are debating an issue. They yell, they cry, they exhibit their anger, fear, frustration, and other feelings openly. Other cultures try to keep their emotions hidden, exhibiting or sharing only the “rational” or factual aspects of the situation. 

v. Personal Appearance: 

Different cultures have different ways of dressing. Clothes communicate a lot. In many regions of India, white denotes mourning whereas in many western countries the bride is dressed in white.

 During wedding celebrations in India, white clothes will not be appreciated. Similarly, Indian formal clothing like saree and dhoti will not be accepted at formal functions in the U.S.A or England. 

Hygiene and grooming, eating habits and attire can vary from country to country and culture to culture. For example, some people may wear attire such as a headdress as part of their custom and beliefs. To remain true to their beliefs, some workers may want to continue to wear this dress In the American workplace. Employers may view this as inappropriate or unsafe. 

It is particularly problematic in businesses in which workers wear uniforms. In another example, immigrants from India, Turkey or other countries may use spices in their diets that are emitted through the body. American workers can interpret this as dirty or unhygienic, which is not the case. 

vi. Time & Space: 

Time is one of the most central differences that separate cultures and cultural ways of doing things. In the West, time tends to be seen as quantitative, measured in units that reflect the march of progress, in the East, time feels like it has unlimited continuity, an unravelling rather than a strict boundary. 

Birth and death are not such absolute ends since the universe continues and humans, though changing form, continue as part of it. Hence, the concept of punctuality is different in western and eastern cultures. 

Similarly, there are certain other behaviour constraints in different cultures – distance or personal space. This can be as simple as how close you should be to somebody. Americans typically prefer to stand about five feet apart when conversing. However, people from different cultural backgrounds may have different comfort zones. 

For example, Germans and Japanese like more distance, and Arab and Latinos generally like to get closer. Knowing these nuances in personal space can help communications tremendously. 

Especially in an international environment, cultural differences often cause communication problems. The same category of words, phrases, symbols, actions, colours mean different things to people of different countries/cultural backgrounds. For example, in Western countries black colour is associated with death and mourning while in the Far East white is the colour of mourning. 

In the United States people love to be called by their first name while in Britain people are more formal and like to be addressed by their title or their last name. In the hierarchical structure of Indian society and business environment also, the last name is important. 

Culture is a conceptually shared set of ideas, values, conceptions and attributes of a person or a group of persons. It is so much a part of an individual’s manner of talking, attributes and behaviour. 

The globalized business environment and differences in socioeconomic scenario, certain significant and most differences are found due to different opinions, concepts, languages, thinking process, social backgrounds, living styles, values, norms of behaviour, social class, relationship, appearances and perceptions etc. 

As such cross-cultural factors increase the differences among various concepts, values, outlooks, ideas, expected behaviour and relationship etc. 

Even in the best of conditions or eco friendly relations, communication can be very difficult among different persons or units as they belong to different cultures.

(i) Cultural Relativism: 

Cultural Relativism is the refusal to make any judgement on the cultural values of other individuals, institutions or cultures. Compares the values and behaviors of different cultures and usually means judging them against standards of right and wrong from one’s own culture. 

(ii) Ethnocentrism: 

Ethnocentrism is the assumption that the culture of one’s own group is moral, right and rational and that other cultures are inferior. The inherent belief that one’s own cultural traditions and values are correct and superior. When confronted with a different culture, individuals judge it with reference to their own standards and make no attempt to understand and evaluate it from its member’s perspective. 

Sometimes ethnocentrism will be combined with racism. Since ethnocentrism is often an unconscious behavior, it is understandably difficult to prevent in advance. Fortunately, it is possible to deal with the problem if you reflect on your practice in a new environment such as a practicum placement. 

(iii) Lack of Knowledge and Understanding of other Cultures:

 Lack of knowledge and understanding of other cultures assuming that behaviors or characteristics typical of a particular culture define all members of that cultural group. This results from a limited knowledge of cultural diversity.

(iv) Discrimination: 

Discrimination is showing favoritism or prejudicial rejection of people because of differences. Prejudice arises from the ‘pre-judging’ of someone’s characteristics simply because they have been categorized as belonging to a particular group. It is usually associated with negative attitudes to that group. Prejudice often has ethnic or racial overtones. 

What are the Barriers to Effective Communication

Some of the important barriers that hamper communication are discussed below:

1. Muddled Messages:

Effective communication starts with a clear message. Muddled messages are a barrier to communication because they leave the receiver unclear about the intent of the sender. Muddled messages have many causes. Generally, such messages are sent when the sender is confused.

The message in such cases may be little more than a vague idea. Feedback from the receiver helps the sender to be sure that the message is clear and not muddled. Clarifying muddled messages is the responsibility of the sender.

2. Stereotyping:

A stereotype is a conventional conception or image that typifies a person, a group, an event, or a thing based on oversimplified conceptions, beliefs, or opinions. Stereotyping can substitute for thinking, analysis, and open mindedness to a new situation.

It is therefore a barrier to communication when it causes people to act as if they already know the message that is coming from the sender. It is worse than that when people think that no message is necessary because ‘everybody already knows’. Both the sender and the listener should continuously look for and account for thinking, conclusions, and actions based on stereotypes.

3. Wrong Channel:

If the sender uses the wrong channel to communicate then wrong signals are sent to the receiver/listener. For example- to greet someone ‘Good morning’, an oral channel is very appropriate. However, if you write ‘GOOD MORNING!’ on a chalkboard or on a piece of paper and circulate it amongst your co-workers, it defeats the very purpose and effectiveness of the greeting.

On the contrary, a detailed request to a contractor for handling any equipment on a site should be made in writing, not in oral form. Having a long conversation with the contractor without taking notes surely will result in confusion and misunderstanding. These simple examples illustrate how using the wrong channel can be a barrier to communication.

Variation of channels helps the receiver understand the nature and importance of a message. A written disciplinary warning emphasises the seriousness of the problem. In the choice of a channel, the sender needs to be sensitive to such things as the complexity of the message (‘good morning’ versus a construction contract); the consequences of a misunderstanding about the knowledge, skills and abilities of the receiver (a new employee versus a partner in the business); and immediacy of action to be taken from the message (instructions for the morning’s work versus a plan of work for the year 2011).

4. Language:

Words are not concrete reality. They are mental representations, as the receiver understands them combined with the shared perceptions of the sender. While language constitutes only the representation of the sound symbols, the rest is perception. Thus, the sender should not use an ‘alien’ or a ‘foreign’ language to transfer his/her message.

He/she should use a language that is clearly understood by the receiver. Here the word ‘foreign’ or ‘alien’ does not mean a language of another country. It means any verbal or non-verbal language, which the receiver does not understand. If there is no shared language between the two then the message is likely to be misunderstood by the receiver/listener.

5. Semantic Problems:

These problems are related to the study of meaning or the changes of meaning, which occur when people use either the same word in different ways or different words in the same way. They also occur when people use jargon, a specialised technical terminology characteristic of a particular subject that they expect others to understand or when they use language that is not within the vocabulary of the receiver. While sending messages, semantic problems can be avoided if the sender keeps in mind the language of the receiver.

6. Lack of Feedback:

Feedback reflects the message/idea that the sender has sent as the receiver perceives it. Without feedback, communication is a one-way process. The sender can get a feedback in many ways. Asking a person to repeat what has been said, is a very direct way of receiving the feedback. It is not always possible to receive feedback in this manner.

It could also be as subtle as a stare, a nod of confirmation or a puzzled look from the listener, which conveys a failure in comprehension when complicated instructions have been given. Both the sender and the receiver can play an active role in using feedback to make communication a two-way process.

Feedback should be helpful rather than hurtful. Prompt feedback is more effective than feedback saved up until the ‘right’ moment because it is likely that the right moment may never arise or when it arrives, it may be too late as the message is already misunderstood or misinterpreted. Feedback should be specific rather than general and should be considered a problem in perception not in discovering facts.

7. Poor Listening Skills:

Listening is a difficult activity. An average speaker speaks about one hundred and twenty words per minute while a listener’s mind can process about four hundred words per minute. This means that the mind of the listener is free for seventy-five percent of the time that he/she is being spoken to. In this free time the listener often gets sidetracked or distracted.

The solution to this problem is to be an active listener rather than a passive one. Nevertheless, one cannot be an active listener unless one is prepared to listen. Thoughts about matters other than what’s being spoken about should be discarded and the focus should be on searching for meaning in what the speaker is saying.

The receiver should follow the following principles:

a. He/she must avoid interrupting the sender and should prepare a mental outline or summary of the important thoughts formed,

b. The receiver should also withhold evaluation, and judgment until the other person has finished sending the message.

A listener frowning, shaking his/her head, looking bored, etc., provides instant feedback, and can easily convince the sender that there is no reason to elaborate or try to communicate his or her idea again, notwithstanding the merit of the idea. The receiver has to be an animated listener and focus on what the other person is saying. Once the message has been sent by the sender and listened to by the receiver, a feedback should be provided.

8. Interruptions:

An organisation or an office is a lively place. Even though a few days are routine, generally there is hectic activity among the employees to attain their targets and goals. In such an environment, casual conversations about last night’s cricket match or a movie, etc., are likely to create interruptions.

Interruptions could also be due to lack of time, lack of privacy, drop-in visitors, emergencies, or even the curiosity of someone wanting to know what two other people are saying. Regardless of the cause, interruptions are a barrier to communication that may perhaps result in giving incomplete instructions or in an incomplete discussion or a meeting. For effective communication, it is important that such interruptions be avoided.

9. Physical Distractions:

All the physical things that get in the way of communication are termed physical distractions. Examples of such things include the ringing of a telephone, insufficiently insulated rooms, poor lighting, noise of traffic, noise from a construction site in the vicinity, the whirring of air conditioners, the noise of a plane flying above the building, and an uncomfortable meeting place.

These physical distractions are extremely common. If the phone rings, the tendency is to answer it even if the caller is interrupting a very important conversation. For a person sitting behind a desk, talking across the desk is talking from behind a physical barrier. Uncomfortable meeting places may include a place that has uncomfortable chairs, that is too hot or too cold. Noise too is a physical distraction simply because it is hard to concentrate on a conversation if hearing is difficult.

10. Cultural Differences:

These affect communication between people from different departments within the organisation, or between people who are from different cultural, social, and religious environments. Let us consider the difference between people in the Research and Development (R and D) department and the production department of an organisation.

While the R and D people who are involved in research-based work have a vision for future expansion and quality of the products that the organisation is manufacturing, the people in the production department are more concerned with keeping its assembly line to meet their daily targets. Their work orientation thus creates cultural differences, which may lead to confusion and misunderstanding that may damage a negotiated settlement.


Overcoming Barriers of Communication

Look at the tips given below to overcome barriers in communication:

1. Have a positive attitude about communication. Defending your attitude interferes with communication.

2. Continuously work at improving communication skills. The communication model and discussion of barriers provide the necessary knowledge that can be used to develop an increased awareness of the potential to improve communication skills.

3. One must be conscious of the importance of effective communication as a skill that is evaluated along with other skills in the job market. Help other people improve their communication skills by helping them understand their communication problems.

4. Make communication goal oriented. Relational goals come first and pave the way for other goals. When the sender and the receiver have a good relationship, they are more likely to accomplish their communication goals than otherwise.

5. Communication should be approached as a creative process rather than as a regular chore. Experiment with communication alternatives. What works with one person may not work well with another. Use different channels and listening, and feedback techniques.

6. Accept the reality of miscommunication. Even the best communicators sometimes fail in sending a clean message. One must accept the possibility of miscommunication and work to minimise its negative impacts.

, ,

hit counter