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BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

No matter how good the communication system in an organization is,


unfortunately barriers can and do often occur. This may be caused by a number
of factors which can usually be summarized as being due to physical barriers,
system design faults or additional barriers.
Physical barriers are often due to the nature of the environment.
Thus, for example, the natural barrier which exists, if staff are located in
different buildings or on different sites.
Likewise, poor or outdated equipment, particularly the failure of
management to introduce new technology, may also cause problems.
Staff shortages are another factor which frequently causes
communication difficulties for an organization.
Whilst distractions like background noise, poor lighting or an environment
which is too hot or cold can all affect people's morale and concentration,
which in turn interfere with effective communication.
System design faults refer to problems with the structures or systems in
place in an organization.
Examples might include an organizational structure which is unclear and
therefore makes it confusing to know who to communicate with.
Other examples could be inefficient or inappropriate information systems,
a lack of supervision or training, and a lack of clarity in roles and
responsibilities which can lead to staff being uncertain about what is
expected of them.
Attitudinal barriers come about as a result of problems with staff in an
organization.
These may be brought about, for example, by such factors as poor
management, lack of consultation with employees, personality conflicts
which can result in people delaying or refusing to communicate, the
personal attitudes of individual employees which may be due to lack of
motivation or dissatisfaction at work, brought about by insufficient training
to enable them to carry out particular tasks, or just resistance to change
due to entrenched attitudes and ideas.

OTHER COMMON BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION INCLUDE:


Psychological factors such as people's state of mind. We
all tend to feel happier and more receptive to information when
the sun shines.
Equally, if someone has personal problems like worries about
their health or marriage, then this will probably affect them.
Different languages and cultures represent a national barrier which is particularly

important for organizations involved in overseas business.


Individual linguistic ability is also important. The use of difficult or inappropriate
words in communication can prevent people from understanding the message.
Poorly explained or misunderstood messages can also result in confusion. We can
all think of situations where we have listened to something explained which we just
could not grasp.
Physiological barriers may result from individuals' personal discomfort, caused, for
example, by ill health, poor eye sight or hearing difficulties.
Presentation of information is also important to aid understanding.
D.E. McFarland has defined Communication as the process of meaningful
interaction among human beings. More specifically, it is the process by which
meanings are perceived and understandings are reached among human being.
But there may be some faults /barriers in the communication system that
prevents the message from reaching the receiver, these barriers are as follows:1. Language Barrier; - Different languages, vocabulary, accent, dialect
represents a national/ regional barriers. Semantic gaps are words having similar
pronunciation but multiple meanings like- round; badly expressed message,
wrong interpretation and unqualified assumptions. The use of difficult or
inappropriate words/ poorly explained or misunderstood messages can result in
confusion.
2. Cultural Barriers: - Age, education, gender, social status, economic position,
cultural background, temperament, health, beauty, popularity, religion, political
belief, ethics, values, motives, assumptions, aspirations, rules/regulations,
standards, priorities can separate one person from another and create a barrier.
3. Individual Barrier: - It may be a result of an individual's perceptual and
personal discomfort. Even when two persons have experienced the same event
their mental perception may/may not be identical which acts as a barrier. Style,
selective perception, halo effect, poor attention and retention, defensiveness,
close mindedness, insufficient filtration are the Individual or Psychological
barrier.
4. Organizational Barrier: - It includes Poor Organization's culture, climate,
stringent rules, regulations, status, relationship, complexity, inadequate facilities/
opportunities of growth and improvement; whereas; the nature of the internal and
external environment like large working areas physically separated from others,
poor lightening, staff shortage, outdated equipments and background noise are
Physical Organizational Barrier.
5. Interpersonal Barrier: - Barriers from Employers are :- Lack of Trust in
employees; Lack of Knowledge of non-verbal clues like facial expression, body

language, gestures, postures, eye contact; different experiences; shortage of


time for employees; no consideration for employee needs; wish to capture
authority; fear of losing power of control; bypassing and informational
overloading, while Barriers from Employees includes Lack of Motivation, lack of
co-operation, trust, fear of penalty and poor relationship with the employer.
6. Attitudinal Barrier: - It comes about as a result of problems with staff in the
organization. Limitation in physical and mental ability, intelligence,
understanding, pre-conceived notions, and distrusted source divides the
attention and create a mechanical barrier which affects the attitude and opinion.
7. Channel Barrier: - If the length of the communication is long, or the medium
selected is inappropriate, the communication might break up; it can also be a
result of the inter-personal conflicts between the sender and receiver; lack of
interest to communicate; information sharing or access problems which can
hamper the channel and affect the clarity, accuracy and effectiveness.
To communicate effectively one need to overcome these barriers. Working on
breaking the barrier is a broad-brush activity and here are certain measures.
DO'S FOR BREAKING THE BARRIER:
- Allow employees access to resources, self expression and idea generation.
- Express your expectations to others.
- Use less of absolute words such as "never", "always", "forever", etc.
- Be a good, attentive and active listener.
- Filter the information correctly before passing on to someone else.
- Try to establish one communication channel and eliminate the intermediaries.
- Use specific and accurate words which audiences can easily understand.
- Try and view the situations through the eyes of the speaker.
- The "you" attitude must be used on all occasions.
- Maintain eye contact with the speaker and make him comfortable.
- Write the instructions if the information is very detailed or complicated.
- Oral communication must be clear and not heavily accented.
- Avoid miscommunication of words and semantic noise.
- Ask for clarifications, repetition where necessary.
- Make the organizational structure more flexible, dynamic and transparent.
- Foster congenial relationship which strengths coordination between superior
and subordinate.
- Focus on purposeful and well focused communication.
- The message of communication should be clear and practical.
- Get Proper Feedback.
DONT'S FOR BREAKING THE BARRIER:

- Be a Selective Listener, this is when a person hears another but selects not to
hear what is being said by choice or desire to hear some other message.
- Be a "Fixer", a fixer is a person that tries to find other person's fault.
- Be a daydreamer.
- Use long chain of command for communication.
- Use too many technical jargons.
- Jump to conclusions immediately.
- Interrupt the speakers and distract him by asking too many irrelevant questions.

Barriers to Effective Communication


ecognizing barriers to effective communication is a first step in improving
communication style. Do you recognize these barriers from your own
personal and professional experience?
Encoding Barriers. The process of selecting and organizing symbols to
represent a message requires skill and knowledge. Obstacles listed below
can interfere with an effective message.
1. Lack of Sensitivity to Receiver. A breakdown in communication may result
when a message is not adapted to its receiver. Recognizing the receivers
needs, status, knowledge of the subject, and language skills assists the
sender in preparing a successful message. If a customer is angry, for
example, an effective response may be just to listen to the person vent for
awhile.
2. Lack of Basic Communication Skills. The receiver is less likely to
understand the message if the sender has trouble choosing the precise words
needed and arranging those words in a grammatically-correct sentence.
3. Insufficient Knowledge of the Subject. If the sender lacks specific
information about something, the receiver will likely receive an unclear or
mixed message. Have you shopped for an item such as a computer, and
experienced how some salespeople can explain complicated terms and ideas
in a simple way? Others cannot.
4. Information Overload. If you receive a message with too much information,
you may tend to put up a barrier because the amount of information is coming
so fast that you may have difficulty comfortably interpreting that information. If
you are selling an item with twenty-five terrific features, pick two or three
important features to emphasize instead of overwhelming your receiver (hohum) with an information avalanche.
5. Emotional Interference. An emotional individual may not be able to
communicate well. If someone is angry, hostile, resentful, joyful, or fearful,
that person may be too preoccupied with emotions to receive the intended
message. If you dont like someone, for example, you may have trouble
hearing them.
Transmitting Barriers: Things that get in the way of message transmission are
sometimes called noise. Communication may be difficult because of noise
and some of these problems:
1. Physical Distractions. A bad cellular phone line or a noisy restaurant can
destroy communication. If an E-mail message or letter is not formatted
properly, or if it contains grammatical and spelling errors, the receiver may not
be able to concentrate on the message because the physical appearance of

4. Long Communication Chain. The longer the communication chain, the greater
the chance for error. If a message is passed through too many receivers, the
message often becomes distorted. If a person starts a message at one end of a
communication chain of ten people, for example, the message that eventually
returns is usually liberally altered.
Decoding Barriers. The communication cycle may break down at the receiving
end for some of these reasons:
1. Lack of Interest. If a message reaches a reader who is not interested in the
message, the reader may read the message hurriedly or listen to the message
carelessly. Miscommunication may result in both cases.
2. Lack of Knowledge. If a receiver is unable to understand a message filled with
technical information, communication will break down. Unless a computer user
knows something about the Windows environment, for example, the user may
have difficulty organizing files if given technical instructions.
3. Lack of Communication Skills. Those who have weak reading and listening
skills make ineffective receivers. On the other hand, those who have a good
professional vocabulary and who concentrate on listening, have less trouble
hearing and interpreting good communication. Many people tune out who is
talking and mentally rehearse what they are going to say in return. Well see
some techniques for improving listening skills in Chapter 2.
4. Emotional Distractions. If emotions interfere with the creation and
transmission of a message, they can also disrupt reception. If you receive a
report from your supervisor regarding proposed changes in work procedures and
you do not particularly like your supervisor, you may have trouble even reading
the report objectively. You may read, not objectively, but to find fault. You may
misinterpret words and read negative impressions between the lines.
Consequently, you are likely to misunderstand part or all of the report.
5. Physical Distractions. If a receiver of a communication works in an area with
bright lights, glare on computer screens, loud noises, excessively hot or cold
work spaces, or physical ailments, that receiver will probably experience
communication breakdowns on a regular basis.
Responding Barriers The communication cycle may be broken if feedback is
unsuccessful.
1. No Provision for Feedback. Since communication is a two-way process, the
sender must search for a means of getting a response from the receiver. If a
team leader does not permit any interruptions nor questions while discussing
projects, he may find that team members may not completely understand what
they are to do. Face-to-face oral communication is considered the best type of

communication since feedback can be both verbal and nonverbal. When two
communicators are separated, care must be taken to ask for meaningful
feedback.
2. Inadequate Feedback. Delayed or judgmental feedback can interfere with
good communication. If your supervisor gives you instructions in long,
compound-complex sentences without giving you a chance to speak, you may
pretend to understand the instructions just so you can leave the stress of the
conversation. Because you may have not fully understood the intended
instructions, your performance may suffer.