Communication is a process beginning with a sender who encodes the message andpasses it through some channel to the receiver who decodes the message. Communicationis fruitful if and only if the messages sent by the sender is interpreted with same meaningby the receiver. If any kind of disturbance blocks any step of communication, themessage will be destroyed. Due to such disturbances, managers in an organization facesevere problems. Thus the managers must locate such barriers and take steps to get rid ofthem.There are several barriers that affects the flow of communication in an organization.These barriers interrupt the flow of communication from the sender to the reciever, thusmaking communication ineffective. It is essential for managers to overcome thesebarriers. The main barriers of communication are summarized below.b Perceptual and Language Differences: Perception is generally how each individualinterprets the world around him. All generally want to receive messages which aresignificant to them. But any message which is against their values is not accepted. Asame event may be taken differently by different individuals. For example : A person ison leave for a month due to personal reasons (family member being critical). The HRManager might be in confusion whether to retain that employee or not, the immediatemanager might think of replacement because his teams productivity is being hampered,the family members might take him as an emotional support.The linguistic differences also lead to communication breakdown. Same word may meandifferent to different individuals. For example: consider a word “value”. a. What is the value of this Laptop? b. I value our relation? c. What is the value of learning technical skills? “Value” means different in different sentences. Communication breakdown occurs if there is wrong perception by the receiver. 2. Information Overload: Managers are surrounded with a pool of information. It is essential to control this information flow else the information is likely to be misinterpreted or forgotten or overlooked. As a result communication is less effective. 3. Inattention: At times we just not listen, but only hear. For example a traveler may pay attention to one “NO PARKING” sign, but if such sign is put all over the city, he no longer listens to it. Thus, repetitive messages should be ignored for effective communication. Similarly if a superior is engrossed in his paper work and his subordinate explains him his problem, the superior may not get what he is saying and it leads to disappointment of subordinate. 4. Time Pressures: Often in organization the targets have to be achieved within a specified time period, the failure of which has adverse consequences. In a haste to meet deadlines, the formal channels of communication are shortened, or messages
are partially given, i.e., not completely transferred. Thus sufficient time should be given for effective communication. 5. Distraction/Noise: Communication is also affected a lot by noise to distractions. Physical distractions are also there such as, poor lightning, uncomfortable sitting, unhygienic room also affects communication in a meeting. Similarly use of loud speakers interferes with communication. 6. Emotions: Emotional state at a particular point of time also affects communication. If the receiver feels that communicator is angry he interprets that the information being sent is very bad. While he takes it differently if the communicator is happy and jovial (in that case the message is interpreted to be good and interesting). 7. Complexity in Organizational Structure: Greater the hierarchy in an organization (i.e. more the number of managerial levels), more is the chances of communication getting destroyed. Only the people at the top level can see the overall picture while the people at low level just have knowledge about their own area and a little knowledge about other areas. 8. Poor retention: Human memory cannot function beyond a limit. One cant always retain what is being told specially if he is not interested or not attentive. This leads to communication breakdown.BarrierExplanationLanguageThe communication message might not use vocabulary that is understood by the receiver– e.g. too much use of technical or financial jargonNoiseVarious things stop a message from getting through or being heard – e.g. poorconnection, background noise, distractions, too many people speakingOverloadToo much information can cause problems e.g. slow down decision makingEmotionThe relationship between the sender and receiver of communication might adverselyaffect the message – which could be ignored or misinterpretedGaps
Too many intermediaries (e.g. too many layers in hierarchy through which message hasto be passed) might prevent or distort the messageInconsistencyIf people receive conflicting or inconsistent messages, then they may ignore or blockthemMost people would agree that communication between two individuals should be simple.It’s important to remember that there are differences between talking and communicating.When you communicate, you are successful in getting your point across to the personyou’re talking to. When we talk, we tend to erect barriers that hinder our ability tocommunicate. There are seven of these types of barriers to effective communication.Physical barriers are easy to spot – doors that are closed, walls that are erected, anddistance between people all work against the goal of effective communication. Whilemost agree that people need their own personal areas in the workplace, setting up anoffice to remove physical barriers is the first step towards opening communication. Manyprofessionals who work in industries that thrive on collaborative communication, such asarchitecture, purposefully design their workspaces around an “open office” plan. Thislayout eschews cubicles in favor of desks grouped around a central meeting space. Whileeach individual has their own dedicated work space, there are no visible barriers toprevent collaboration with their co-workers. This encourages greater openness andfrequently creates closer working bonds.Perceptual barriers, in contrast, are internal. If you go into a situation thinking that theperson you are talking to isn’t going to understand or be interested in what you have tosay, you may end up subconsciously sabotaging your effort to make your point. You willemploy language that is sarcastic, dismissive, or even obtuse, thereby alienating yourconversational partner. Think of movie scenarios in which someone yells clipped phrasesat a person they believe is deaf. The person yelling ends up looking ridiculous whilefailing to communicate anything of substance.Emotional barriers can be tough to overcome, but are important to put aside to engage inconversations. We are often taught to fear the words coming out of our own mouths, as inthe phrase “anything you say can and will be used against you.” Overcoming this fear isdifficult, but necessary. The trick is to have full confidence in what you are saying andyour qualifications in saying it. People often pick up on insecurity. By believing inyourself and what you have to say, you will be able to communicate clearly withoutbecoming overly involved in your emotions.Cultural barriers are a result of living in an ever shrinking world. Different cultures,whether they be a societal culture of a race or simply the work culture of a company, canhinder developed communication if two different cultures clash. In these cases, it is
important to find a common ground to work from. In work situations, identifying aproblem and coming up with a highly efficient way to solve it can quickly topple anycultural or institutional barriers. Quite simply, people like results.Language barriers seem pretty self-inherent, but there are often hidden language barriersthat we aren’t always aware of. If you work in an industry that is heavy in jargon ortechnical language, care should be taken to avoid these words when speaking withsomeone from outside the industry. Without being patronizing, imagine explaining asituation in your industry to a child. How would you convey these concepts withoutrelying on jargon? A clear, direct narrative is preferable to an incomprehensible slew ofspecialty terms.Gender barriers have become less of an issue in recent years, but there is still thepossibility for a man to misconstrue the words of a woman, or vice versa. Men andwomen tend to form their thoughts differently, and this must be taken into account whencommunicating. This difference has to do with how the brain of each sex is formedduring gestation. In general, men are better at spatial visualization and abstract conceptssuch as math, while women excel at language-based thinking and emotionalidentification. However, successful professionals in highly competitive fields tend tohave similar thought processes regardless of their gender.Interpersonal barriers are what ultimately keep us from reaching out to each other andopening ourselves up, not just to be heard, but to hear others. Oddly enough, this can bethe most difficult area to change. Some people spend their entire lives attempting toovercome a poor self-image or a series of deeply rooted prejudices about their place inthe world. They are unable to form genuine connections with people because they havetoo many false perceptions blocking the way. Luckily, the cure for this is morecommunication. By engaging with others, we learn what our actual strengths andweaknesses are. This allows us to put forth our ideas in a clear, straightforward manner.Communication is not a one-way street. To have others open up to you, you must be openyourself. By overcoming these barriers to communication, you can ensure that thestatement you are making is not just heard, but also understood, by the person you arespeaking with. In this way, you can be confident that your point has been expressed.The more you add information that isn’t necessary, the greater the risk yourlisteners will misinterpret your point.Communication Barrier #2Distracting Gestures
The majority of individuals I work with fidget with their fingers, rings, pen — the listgoes on. If they don’t fidget, then they unconsciously talk with their hands. Their elbowsget locked at their sides and every gesture looks the same. Or they’ve been told they talkwith their hands so they hold their hands and do nothing.Throughout the day, notice how you and others use gestures. • Do you talk with your hands or gesture too often? If you’re constantly using gestures, you’re not able to think on your feet and you’re creating static. • Do your gestures have purpose? • Ask for constructive feedback from friends, family and co-workers: “When I gesture do I look like I’m talking with my hands?” “Do I use gestures too often or not enough?”How to Avoid This Barrier: Use Gestures for EmphasisConfident speakers use gestures to add emphasis to their words. To gesture with purpose,avoid locking your elbows at your sides or creating the same repetitious gestures. Instead,expand your gestures from your sides and let your hands emphasize and describe yourmessage.Add variety to your gestures by relaxing your arms back to your sides after you completea gesture.“Static is created when what you say is inconsistent with how yousay it. ”Benefits include: • When your gestures create a visual for your listeners, they’ll remember more information and will remember your message longer. • Gestures will grab your listener’s attention. • Gestures add energy and inflection to your voice and channel your adrenaline and nervous energy.Communication Barrier #4Using PowerPoint as a Crutch“The more you add information that isn’t necessary, the greater therisk your listeners will misinterpret your point. ”PowerPoint isn’t designed to serve as your notes. The purpose of visual aids is to enhanceand support your message through pictures and illustrations.How to Avoid This Barrier: Design Visual Aids, not Wordy Slides
How you design your visual aids will determine your ability to stay connected with yourlistener. • Create PowerPoint slides with more pictures and fewer words. • Ask yourself, “Why am I using this PowerPoint slide?” • Identify how your PowerPoint slide best supports your message based on the following criteria: o Listener expectations and needs. o Listener experience and knowledge level. o Objectives. o Time frame. o Number of participants. • Save details for handouts. Your listeners will appreciate a conversational approach with interaction accompanied by take-aways they may use as a resource. • Stay away from software overkill. If you’re clicking the mouse every few seconds, your visual aids are the message and you are the backup. • If you’ve been using the same PowerPoint design for more than six months, it’s time to make a change! • Stop disconnecting with your listener by talking to your visual aids. Only speak when you see eyes! Pause when you refer to your visual aids and stay connected with your listener.Communication Barrier #5Verbal StaticUm… what perception… like… do you create… you know… when you hear… um… aspeaker using… uh… words that clutter… you know… their language? Knowledgeable,credible and confident are labels which probably don’t come to mind.As I travel the country, the number one challenge individuals need to overcome toincrease their influence is the ability to replace non-words with a pause. We use non-words to buy ourselves time to think about what we want to say. These words aredistracting and your listener misses your message.How to Avoid This Barrier: Eliminate Filler Words“PowerPoint isn’t designed to serve as your notes. The purpose ofvisual aids is to enhance and support your message throughpictures and illustrations. ”Benefits for you: • Think on your feet. • Get to the point and avoid rambling. • Take a relaxing breath.
• Hold your listener’s attention. • Gain control over your message.Benefits for listener: • Hear, understand and respond. • Act on what you say.Communication Barrier #6Lack of Eye ConnectionThe only way to build a relationship is through trust. When you forget what to say, youwill look at the ceiling, floor, PowerPoint slides or anywhere away from your listener.When you disconnect you’ll say: “uh” “um” “so” “and”, etc.How to Avoid This Barrier: Keep Your Eyes On Your AudienceWhen speaking to more than two individuals, connect with one individual for a completesentence or thought. Take a moment to pause as you transition your eyes from oneindividual to another.When rehearsing, ask your listener to immediately give you feedback when you lookaway from them while you’re speaking.Physical barriers are often due to the nature of the environment.Thus, for example, the natural barrier which exists, if staff are located in differentbuildings or on different sites.Likewise, poor or outdated equipment, particularly the failure of management tointroduce new technology, may also cause problems.Staff shortages are another factor which frequently causes communicationdifficulties for an organisation.Whilst distractions like background noise, poor lighting or an environment whichis too hot or cold can all affect peoples morale and concentration, which in turninterfere with effective communication.System design faults refer to problems with the structures or systems inplace in an organisation.
Examples might include an organisational structure which is unclear andtherefore makes it confusing to know who to communicate with.Other examples could be inefficient or inappropriate information systems, a lackof supervision or training, and a lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities whichcan lead to staff being uncertain about what is expected of them.Attitudinal barriers come about as a result of problems with staff in anorganisation.These may be brought about, for example, by such factors as poor management,lack of consultation with employees, personality conflicts which can result inpeople delaying or refusing to communicate, the personal attitudes of individualemployees 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 COMMUNICATIONINCLUDE:Psychological factors such as peoples state of mind. We all tend to feelhappier and more receptive to information when the sun shines.Equally, if someone has personal problems like worries about their health ormarriage, then this will probably affect them.Different languages and cultures represent a national barrier which isparticularly important for organisations involved in overseas business.Individual linguistic ability is also important. The use of difficult orinappropriate words in communication can prevent people from understandingthe message.
Poorly explained or misunderstood messages can also result in confusion. Wecan all think of situations where we have listened to something explained whichwe just could not grasp.Physiological barriers may result from individuals personal discomfort,caused, for example, by ill health, poor eye sight or hearing difficulties.