Barriers to communication are hindrances to effective communication caused by a few factors. Effective communication is the key to problem-solving and a healthy workplace environment. The barriers aren’t restricted just to offices; ineffective communication may be a part of everyday interaction with the people that causes friction and hampers the communication process in conveying the message from a sender to receiver.
These barriers have dire consequences, especially in workplace communication channels. It is essential to be aware of these barriers to tackle them and communicate effectively. Open communication can affect not just individuals but the functioning of an entire company.
Effective communication improves the chances of better interaction, lesser confusion, increased morale, and improved overall productivity. Barriers to communication hamper all these factors.
9 Barriers to Effective Communication
While there are several reasons for ineffective communication, below mentioned are the seven barriers to communication that hamper productivity in organizations:
1. Physical Barriers
This type of barrier is often created due to the structural foundation of the organization. When people are made to sit in non-interactive closed cabins or high walls, or different buildings, this hampers communication. Employees need to physically interact to have the best results on any given project.
The distance then becomes a physical barrier that they find difficult to cross. Other factors lead to physical barriers like noise, far apart cabins, closed doors.
2. Cultural barriers
These days, people travel to different parts of the world to make a promising career. So the office is filled with people who come from different cultures and traditions.
These cultural differences often create barriers between employees as they tend to interact more with people who come from similar cultures. This results in groups and indeed is not healthy in a workplace environment.
Sometimes the people are not respectful towards some cultures and end up offending or insulting an individual belonging to the same. This hampers inter-personal relations in the office, which in turn affects productivity.
3. Perceptual barriers
Sometimes, certain perceptions about the workplace can reduce the individual’s motivation to interact and participate.
For example- if an individual is under the perception that their opinion doesn’t matter in a conference, they are less likely to provide any input. The attention span reduces drastically.
4. Language barriers
People from different geographical places speak different languages. If an employee who doesn’t understand or speak the place’s local language is placed amongst a team who refuses to interact in the common known language, it creates a language barrier.
Another aspect of this is that almost all workplaces have their lingo and jargon catered to their profession. If an individual doesn’t know these, then it creates a language barrier. This can especially be seen when employees of two different companies are interacting over a project.
5. Interpersonal barriers
This barrier entirely depends on the individual and their willingness to interact and participate. If an individual is uninterested in communicating in a workplace environment, then it affects the whole team.
6. Psychological barriers
Some people tend to have problems interacting with others. May result from pathological shyness or other behavioral aspects. This leads to a psychological barrier where a person though they want to, is unable to interact or provide any input in the workplace.
7. Gender barriers
Interacting with another gender can be challenging at times. One might not know what words or gestures will offend the other gender. This results in a communication gap between the genders.
While many workplaces have been successful in getting rid of the stereotypes and gender barriers on a personal level, many people still feel comfortable interacting with their gender regarding specific issues.
8. Emotional Barriers
The emotional barriers to communication create a psychological state which makes mental walls to hamper you from openly communicating your thoughts and feeling to someone else. Some of the common types of emotional barriers are anger, pride, anxiety, etc.
Such barriers might prevent you from being yourself and let you be extremely reserved, insecure, and cautious.
9. Physiological Barriers
The physiological barrier to communication may result because of the physical state of the receiver.
For instance, if a receiver is having reduced hearing capacity, then they might not accurately grasp the content of a spoken message. It can be worse if a person with reduced hearing capacity with significant background noise.
Other Common Barriers to Communication Skills
- Use of jargon, over-complicated, technical, and/or unfamiliar terms
- Emotional or social taboos
- Lack of attention or interest
- Distractions or irrelevance to the receiver
- Differences in perception and viewpoint
- Language differences
- Expectations and prejudices
- Cultural differences
- Information overload
- Lack of trust
- Wrong communications channels
- Wrong communication technology
- Grapevine communication
How to Overcome Barriers to Effective Communication?
The following methods can be implemented to break the above-mentioned barriers to communication-
- Try to have more interactive office spaces, like no closed doors or lower cabin walls, make a habit of interacting with people if their cabins are far apart.
- Be sensitive to the culture and tradition of others. Do not mock anyone’s beliefs. People come from different cultural backgrounds and are exposed to various other factors while growing up. Try not to offend or demean their culture.
- Try to use a common language while interacting with all employees.
- Try not to negative perception regarding the workplace. A good attitude goes a long way.
- Be unbiased irrespective of gender or age or any other sociological factor.
- Focus on creating lasting and honest bonds.
- Do not bad mouth about people.
- Handle criticism or feedback with a humble and accepting nature.
- Be a good listener, be attentive towards colleagues, boss, managers, and other office staff.
Removing communication barriers is a slow process. It takes time but will surely uplift the work environment once it is achieved.
Newer offices tend to face this issue more than already existing establishments. It is always essential to have communicated with peers and handle the workplace with a positive attitude and body language to optimize organizational performance.
Have you ever noticed any factors that hamper your communication skills? Share your communication barriers with us to learn specific strategies that can improve your communication skills.
Pinky is an MBA in Marketing from the University of Mumbai. She loves helping people out in learning Marketing and sharing latest ideas and tactics for growing businesses.