What are the barriers to effective communication ?


What are the barriers to effective communication ?


What is communication Skills?

Communication skills are abilities you use when giving and receiving different kinds of information. Though these skills   may be a regular part of your day to day work life, communicating in a clear, effective and efficient way is an extremely special and useful skill. Leaning from great communicators around you and actively practicing ways to improve your communications over time will certainly support your efforts to achieve various personal and professional goals.  Communication skills involve listening, speaking, observing and empathizing. It is helps to understand the differences in how to communicate through face-to-face interactions, phone conversations and digital communications, like email and social media. Communication skills allow you to give and receive information. Practicing active listening can build respect with your coworkers and increase understanding in the workplace. As you actively listen, focus on the speaker, avoiding distractions like cell phones, laptops or other projects, and by preparing questions, comments or ideas to thoughtfully respond.


Types of Communication

Communication comes in four basic types. Below, we will look at the different types in depth.

Since communication happens around us all the time, the process is often taken for granted. A large amount of time is spent communicating hence there is need to make sure that ideas and information are put in a way that everyone involved can understand. Thinking about what to say, working out the best way of saying it, finding the right words, making sure the other person understands and understanding anything he\she says in reply are all vital stages in communication. Being able to communicate effectively is the most important of all life skills. Communication is simply the act of transferring information from one place to another. This may be vocally (using voice), written (using printed or digital media such as books, magazines, websites or emails), visually (using logos, maps, charts or graphs) or non-verbally (using body language, gestures and the tone and pitch of voice). How well this information is transmitted and received is a measure of whether your communication skills are good.

1. Verbal Communication: This mode of communication relies on words to convey a message. This is the standard method of communicating that most of us use on a day-to-day basis, though we rarely use it without augmenting it with one of the other communication types. Other cues people use while communicating verbally include, tone, gestures, and body language. Verbal communication helps in expressing thoughts, emotions and sentiments. A phone conversation, chat with a friend, an announcement made, or a speech delivered are all verbal forms of communication. For most of us, it comes with ease. As children, we learned verbal communication through the sounds around us. We soon develop and start understanding the language which helps us to communicate verbally as we grow older.

Verbal communication is further divided into four subcategories:

a. Interpersonal Communication: This form of communication is extremely private and restricted to ourselves. It includes the silent conversations we have with ourselves, wherein we juggle roles between the sender and receiver who are processing our thoughts and actions. This process of communication when analyzed can either be conveyed verbally to someone or stay confined as thoughts.


b. Interpersonal Communication: This form of communication takes place between two individuals and is thus a one-on-one conversation. Here, the two individuals involved will swap their roles of sender and receiver in order to communicate in a clearer manner.

c. Small Group Communication: This type of communication can take place only when there are more than two people involved. Here the number of people will be small enough to allow each participant to interact and converse with the rest. Press conferences, board meetings, and team meetings are examples of group communication. Unless a specific issue is being discussed, small group discussions can become chaotic and difficult to interpret by everybody. This lag in understanding information completely can result in miscommunication.

d. Public Communication This type of communication takes place when one individual addresses a large gathering of people. Election campaigns and public speeches are example of this type of communication. 

In such cases, there is usually a single sender of information and several receivers who are being addressed.

2. Non Verbal Communication Non-verbal communication is a process of communication without using words or sounds. Non-verbal communication uses gestures, body language, facial expressions, eye contact, clothing, tone of voice, and other cues to convey a message. Like verbal communication, this method of communicating is rarely used alone. Non-verbal communication could be considered like a spice we use when communicating to add a little flavor. You might raise your eyebrows emphatically when speaking to help make a point, or shake your finger at your child when you’re angry. These are all non-verbal cues that help convey a message.
3. Written Communication Written communication is the medium through which the message of the sender is conveyed with the help of written words. Letters, personal journals, e-mails, reports, articles, and memos are some forms of written communication. Unlike some other forms of communication, written messages can be edited and rectified before they are sent to the receiver, thereby making written communication an indispensable part of informal and formal communication. This form of communication encapsulates features of visual communication as well, especially when the messages are conveyed through electronic devices such as laptops, phones, and visual presentations that involve the use of text or words.
4. Visual Communication This form of communication involves the visual display of information, wherein the message is understood or expressed with the help of visual aids. For example, topography, photography, signs, symbols, maps, colors, posters, banners and designs help the viewer understand the message visually. Movies and plays, television shows and video clips are all electronic form of visual communication. Visual communication also involves the transfer of information in the form of text, which is received through an electronic medium such as a computer, phone, etc. Icons and emoticons are a form of visual communication. When these icons are used in a public place, phone or computer, they instruct the user about their meaning and usage. One of the greatest examples of visual communication is the internet, which communicates with the masses using a combination of text, design, links, images, and color. All of these visual features require us to view the screen in order to understand the message being conveyed. Media communication is developing at a meteoric rate in order to ensure clarity and to eliminate any ambiguity. The aforementioned four types of communication have played a vital role and continue to do so, in bridging the gap between people, commerce, education, health care, and entertainment. There are many reasons why interpersonal communications may fail. In many communications, the message may not be received exactly the way the sender intended and hence it is important that the


Communication Barriers

There are many reasons why interpersonal communications may fail. In many communications, the message may not be received exactly the way the sender intended and hence it is important that the communicator seeks feedback to check that their message is clearly understood. The skills of Active Listening, Clarification and Reflection, which we will discuss shortly, may help but the skilled communicator also needs to be aware of the barriers to effective communication. There exist many barriers to communication and these may occur at any stage in the communication process. Barriers may lead to your message becoming distorted and you therefore risk wasting both time and/or money by causing confusion and misunderstanding. Effective communication involves overcoming these barriers and conveying a clear and concise message.
Barriers to communication Communication are the answer to the success of any organization and if there are barriers to its effectiveness, there will be frustration to the concerned parties. Communication barriers can arise at every stage of the communication process that is from the sender, the message, the channel, the receiver, the feedback and the context.


What is  communication Barrier ?

Barrier to communication is something that keeps meanings from meeting. Meaning barriers exist between all people, making communication much more difficult than most people seem to realize. It is false to assume that if one can talk he can communicate.

Because so much of our education misleads people into thinking that communication is easier than it is, they become discouraged and give up when they run into difficulty. Because they do not understand the nature of the problem, they do not know what to do.

Barriers to successful communication include message overload, when a person receives too many messages at the same time, and message complexity.

Some barriers to communication are discussed here under:-

Physical barriers: Physical barriers are often due to the nature of the environment. Example poor or outdated equipment, distractions, noise, and poor lighting etc

System design: System design faults refer to problems with the structures or systems in place in an organization.

Semantic barriers: Semantic refers to meaning of language used. Often the same word is interpreted by different people in different ways according to their mental attitude and understanding.

Poorly explained or misunderstood messages can result in confusion.

1. Physiological barriers:  certain attitude can also make communication, poor eye sight, hearing difficulties etc.

2. Socio-psychological barrier:  Certain attitudes can also make communication difficult. For instance, great anger or sadness may cause someone to lose focus on the present moment. Disorders such as Autism may also severely hamper effective communication.


Other barriers based on social psychological barriers to communication are:-

a. Attitude an opinion: If information agrees with our opinion and attitude, we tend to receive it favorably but if it ends to run contrary to our accepted beliefs, we do not react favorably.

b. Emotion: Emotional state of mind affects communication. If the sender is exited or nervous his thinking will be blurred and he will not be able to organize his message properly.

c. Closed mind: It is a person with deeply ingrained prejudice and it is not prepared to reconsider his opinions.

d. Status conscious: are common in organization and subordinates are afraid of communicating upward any unpleasant information. Superiors also think that consulting their juniors would be compromising their dignity.

e. The source of communication: If the receiver is suspicious about a prejudice against the source of communication there is likely to be a barrier to communication.

f. Inattentiveness: People often become inattentive while receiving a message in particular, if the message contains a new idea.

g. Faulty transmission: Translator can never be perfect.

h. Poor retention: Studies shows that employees retain only about 50% of the information communicated to them. If the information is communicated through 3-4 stages, very little reaches the destination. Poor retention may lead to imperfect responses which may further hamper the communication process.

3. Presentation of information: It is important to aid understanding. The communicator should consider the audience before making the presentation by simplifying their vocabulary so that the majority may understand.

4.  Environmental barrier: Noise that physically disrupts communication, such as standing next to loud speakers at a party, pulling and moving of seats in a lecture room, working in a factory etc

5. Physiological-Impairment barrier: Physical maladies that prevent effective communication, such as deafness or blindness.

6. Syntactical barrier: Mistakes in grammar can disrupt communication, such subject verb agreement, abrupt change in tense etc

7. Organizational barriers: Poorly structured communication can prevent the receiver from accurate interpretation.

8. Cultural barrier: Stereotypical assumptions can cause misunderstandings, such as unintentionally offending a Kikuyu person by calling him a thief.

9. Noise:  Is any occurrence that inhibits effective communication; it can occur at any point in the process. Noise is the causative factor for the message being mis-communicated or misunderstood due to the problem either in the medium chosen or encoding or decoding or in some stages of the process.


Possible Remedies to the Barriers to Communication

Effective communication is a tool that can provide innumerable benefits within the workplace, at school and among interpersonal relationships. Despite the strongest communication skills, certain barriers such as defensiveness, underlying negativity or cultural roadblocks may limit the effectiveness of the message. Most of the above mentioned barriers can be overcome by the skilled communicator.

Obviously, bridging gaps in geography and communicating through disabilities are a topic for a different discussion. Below, we will look at some tools that can be used to bridge barriers in everyday communication.
1. Active Listening: Active listening is a skill that can be acquired and developed with practice. However, this skill can be difficult to master and will, therefore, take time and patience. Active listening means, as its name suggests, actively listening. That is fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just ‘hearing’ the message of the speaker. Active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the active listener is also seen to be listening otherwise the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.

By providing this feedback the person speaking will usually feel more at ease and therefore communicate more easily, openly and honestly. There are both verbal and non-verbal cues that convey active listening.

Non-verbal signs include smiling (if appropriate), making eye contact, nodding at appropriate times, and avoiding distractions. These non-verbal cues convey the message that you are interested in what the speaker has to say, and that your attention is fully invested. Offering verbal signs of active listening can also be useful. Reflecting on something the speaker has said by asking a clarifying question is a terrific way to do this. Paraphrasing involves finding slightly different words to repeat the main idea of the speaker, and is also great way to show active listening.

2. Use Simple Language: It’s important to remember the audience that you’re speaking to, and use language that can be easily understood. Avoid using medical terminology or jargon when speaking to clients and their families. People are often intimidated by such language, and can be afraid to admit that they don’t understand the message being delivered. An important tool to use when speaking is to pause occasionally and ask questions to ensure that your message is being understood as intended. You may also allow the listener to ask questions to clarify any points.

3. Give Constructive Feedback: Remember that feedback was part of the communication chain we looked at on the first page. While the feedback that you give the speaker/sender may occasionally be negative, it is important that it be constructive in nature. The intent of the feedback should be to further the abilities of the speaker. This will strengthen the interpersonal relationship, and enhance future communications.

4. The psychological barriers caused by prejudice, preconceived notion, distrust of the communicator, misinterpretation of his intention etc can be solved by counteracting those prejudice.

5. As the source of the message, you need to be clear about why you're communicating, and what you want to communicate. You also need to be confident that the information you're communicating is useful and accurate.

5. Avoid cultural confusion: Be clear with the message and avoid using slang or unnecessary metaphors that may challenge or confuse a recipient from a different culture. Create a culture of communication that uses simple language where people of all backgrounds can participate. Celebrate the diversity of a global society by researching how the source culture best receives communication.

6. Difficult people can disrupt the line of communication in many ways. Unreasonable receivers have unrealistic expectations, extremely disagreeable recipients can have a negative effect and back-stabbers can attack the message while appearing to be supportive in person. Identify the type of difficult receiver and do not ignore their tactics. Create a plan to take control of their behavior with the underlying goal of always keeping ownership of the message. For example, corner negativity by restating a difficult person's opposition while inviting all receivers to offer feedback on a proposal. Unrealistic negativity will be brought down naturally as a group supports moving toward a goal.

7. The policy of the organization must be clear and explicit. It should be designed in such a way that it encourages communication flow. It should be easily understandable by all the levels. The policies for communication should be clear and should favor the promotion of communication in the organization. The policy should be able to specify the subject to be communicated to others. It means that the subject matter should be expressive enough to determine the needs of the organization rather than creating any confusion.

8. Communication through proper channel works out effectively. But the flow of communication in the orderly form should not be insisted upon every time. At times it can be ignored and not strictly followed in order to keep the functioning of the organization smooth and effective.

9. There should be an adequate facility of promoting communication in an organization. Proper attention should be given for the effective use of words and language. Superiors should take care of using supportive attitude methods and proper behavioral needs to overcome any embarrassing situation.


Communication Skills

1. Active listening

2. Friendliness

3. Communication method

4. Confidence

5. Giving out feedback

6. Quantity and clearness

7. Respect

8. Understanding

9. Receptiveness

10. Non-verbal cues


1. Active listening: Active listening means paying close attention to who you’re communicating with by engaging with them, asking questions and rephrasing. Practicing active listening can build respect with your coworkers and increase understanding in the workplace. As you actively listen, focus on the speaker, avoiding distractions like cell phones, laptops or other projects, and by preparing questions, comments or ideas to thoughtfully respond. Improve your active listening abilities by paying attention to other people’s facial expressions, body language and tone. Instead of preparing what you will say, focus on what the other person is saying and how they are saying it. If you need to clarify something, ask follow-up questions or rephrase what they’ve said to confirm that you understood them correctly.

2. Friendliness: Friendly traits like honesty and kindness can help foster trust and understanding when communicating at work. Try to communicate with a positive attitude, keep an open mind and ask questions to help you understand where they’re coming from. Small gestures such as asking someone how they’re doing, smiling as they speak or offering praise for work well done can help you foster productive relationships with colleagues and managers. You can practice friendliness by remembering small, thoughtful details about your coworkers or past conversations. For example, if a coworker tells you their child’s birthday is soon and you connect with them again later, you might ask them how the birthday party went.

3. Communication method: Using the right way to communicate is an important skill. There are benefits and disadvantages to talking through emails, letters, phone calls, in-person meetings or instant messages. Communicating is better when you consider your audience, what information you want to share and the best way to share it. For example, if you are communicating with a potential employer, it may be better to call them on the phone. In the workplace, you may find it’s easier to communicate complex information in person or via a video conference than by email. Building remote workplace friendships is easier when you can speak through instant messages.

4. Confidence: In the workplace, people are more likely to respond to ideas that are presented with confidence. There are many ways to appear confident, including by making eye contact when you’re addressing someone, sitting up straight with your shoulders open and preparing ahead of time so your thoughts are polished and you’re able to answer any questions. Confident communication is very useful on workplace.

5. Giving out feedback: Strong communicators can accept critical feedback and provide constructive input to others. Feedback should answer questions, provide solutions or help strengthen the project or topic at hand. Providing and accepting feedback is an essential workplace skill, as it can help both you and the people around you make meaningful improvements to their work and their professional development. A great way to learn how to give feedback is to take notes from others on the feedback they offer you. When you come across a well-explained piece of feedback, take some time to observe and analyze why it was good, why it resonated with you and how you might apply those skills in the future.

6. Quantity and clearness: When you are speaking, it’s important to be clear and audible. Adjusting your speaking voice so you can be heard in a variety of settings is a skill, and it’s critical to communicating effectively. Speaking too loudly may be disrespectful or awkward in certain settings. If you’re unsure, read the room to see how others are communicating. Another aspect of verbal communication is vocalic and tonality. This involves how your tone moves up and down, your pitch, your accent pattern and the spaces you place between phrases. Such details can be effective in communicating emotions and offer your audience insights into how your message should be interpreted.


7. Respect: A key aspect of respect is known when to initiate communication and respond. In a team or group setting, allowing others to speak without interruption is seen as a necessary communication skill tied to respectfulness. Respectfully communicating also means using your time with someone else wisely—staying on topic, asking clear questions and responding fully to any questions you’ve been asked.

8. Understanding: Having understanding means that you can not only know, but also share in the emotions of others. This communication skill is important in both team and one-on-one settings. In both cases, you will need to understand other people’s emotions and select an appropriate response. Understanding can help you acknowledge and diffuse their emotion. At the same time, being able to understand when someone is feeling positive and enthusiastic can help you get support for your ideas and projects.

Whether you’re returning a phone call or sending a reply to an email, fast communicators are viewed as more effective than those who are slow to respond.

9. Receptiveness: One method is to consider how long your reply will take. It may be a good idea to address it as soon as you see it. If it’s a more complex request or question, you can still acknowledge that you’ve received the message and let the other person know you will respond in full later.

10. Non-verbal cues: A great deal of communication happens through nonverbal cues such as body language, facial expressions and eye contact. When you’re listening to someone, you should be paying attention to what they’re saying as well as their nonverbal language. By the same measure, you should be conscious of your own body language when you’re communicating to ensure you’re sending appropriate cues to others.


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