10 Barriers to Effective Communication in the Workplace

Communication is an important element in managing relationships at home and the workplace. It sounds easy and simple to communicate, but it is way too common to hear stories of people separating due to communication breakdown. Employers also lose employees, colleagues fight at the workplace, and companies lose its public image as a result of miscommunication.

Accordingly, it is necessary to identify the barriers that may affect communications. Most of the barriers to communication are deliberately and incidentally introduced by communicators in various stages of communication. For example, it can be frustrating to communicate with a person who ignores you intentionally. So what are the barriers to communication?

Barriers to Effective Communication:

 1) Physical Barriers

There are various physical barriers to effective communication in the workplace. They include erected structures, marked territories, and restricted areas. Other physical obstacles that prevent communication are: closed office doors, distance, lack of speakers, and large working space. To ensure effective communication, it is necessary to ensure proximity between the communicating parties.

2) Perceptions and Beliefs

People have different ways of seeing things. We have different perceptions and beliefs about the world of ideas and things. For example, you may believe that people are suspicious. Another person will find it easy to trust other people. Our differences in perception may hinder our understanding of messages during communication at the workplace.

3) Emotional Barriers

This is about how people feel about situations, ideas, people, and objects. Emotional barriers to communication includes fear, mistrust, anger, and suspicion. If you fear your boss, you may not communicate openly with them. Being too angry may also make a person to overreact to situations during communication.

4) Cultural Barriers

Cultural differences affect how people communicate and understand messages. The behaviors, attitudes, and values of people are often influenced by their culture. Within specific cultural groups, there are specific practices and behaviors that are accepted as the norm. However, what is considered as the norm may not be the case in another group. This makes it difficult for people to communicate across cultures. To communicate effectively across cultures within the workplace, you need to overcome the cultural barriers to communication. This can be done through cross-cultural training, appreciating the values of other cultures, and learning to accommodate diverse perspectives.

5) Language Barriers

Another important barrier to communication is language barrier. Differences in language, accent or dialect may hinder effective communication. For example, English speakers may not make any meaningful exchange of information with Spanish people. Furthermore, some words used in English language may not mean the same thing as their translations in Spanish. Language is an integral part of culture, and understanding the cultures of other people requires you to learn their language.

6) Gender Barriers

Research shows that there are distinct differences between the speech patterns of men and women.

It is said that an average woman speaks over 22,000 words in a day, while an average man speaks only 7,000 words in a day. So, for a man to speak 1 word, the woman should speak 3 words.

Girls start speaking earlier than boys. Girls also develop richer vocabulary than boys by the age of 3. Thus, there can be misunderstanding when men and women engage in professional communications. There is need for both parties to understand and accommodate their differences in communication patterns.

7) Interpersonal Barriers

For communication to take place effectively, there should be a strong interpersonal relationship within the workplace. However, various interpersonal barriers may hinder communication. They include: rituals, pastimes, working, games, and withdrawals.

When people withdraw from the group, they lose interpersonal contact which is necessary for effective communication. People who engage in games also pursue subtle and competitive agendas, hence lacking good interpersonal connections. Separation and lack of intimate closeness may also hinder communication.

8) Psychological Barriers

Psychological barriers to communication include mental states and psychological factors that may prevent effective communication. For example, a person who is frustrated and under a lot of stress may not communicate effectively with people. Being irrational and illogical in communication may also lead to misunderstanding and conflicts at the workplace.

9) Process Barriers

Process Barriers to communication are the hindrances that occur in all phases of the communication process, or through the perceptual model of communication. A rigid organizational structure may hinder open and effective communication. The process of communication may also be affected by failures and errors within the system as a whole. Process barriers to communication are anything that interferes with the steps and stages of passing a message from the source to the recipient.

10) Semantic Barriers

These are barriers that affect the structure of words and sentences during a communication process. It is the distortion of various components of the message during communication. This results to different understanding and interpretation of words and phrases used in communication. Semantic refers to meaning within a text. If you cannot decode and interpret the meaning of the message effectively, then the communication as a whole is not effective.

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