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Barriers to Effective Communication

Authors:
Barriers to Effective Communication
Dr. Radhika Kapur
Abstract
Communication is a very common concept in everyday life and takes place
in every setting, organization, area or a place, no work or operation or function is
carried out without effective means of communication. Within the process of
communication, it is apparent that barriers and obstacles do occur, which can be
avoidable and which cannot be avoidable; therefore an individual should inculcate
all the required skills, attitudes and traits amongst himself so that he can effectively
overcome all the barriers to communication. In this research manuscript, there have
been various crucial areas, kinds of barriers to effective communication, barriers to
effective communication within an organization and procedures for overcoming
them, psychological barriers to effective communication, content barriers to
effective communication and overcoming communication barriers. The main
emphasis has been laid upon the barriers that arise within an organizational
structure and the problems that arise due to occurrence of these barriers. This
research manuscript makes provision of pertinent information about the
communication barriers and what kinds of procedures should be adopted in order
to overcome them.
Keywords: Barriers, Effective Communication, Organization, Content,
Information, Factors
Introduction
Communication is stated to be one of the most crucial systems, which is
essential to develop in all areas. It does not matter how good the communication
system is, how well formed and well developed it is, barriers do occur within the
communication systems, whether it is an organization, communication between the
family members, social network, institution and so forth. Barriers that take place
within the communication systems are very unfortunate and unwanted, every
individual wants that his functioning should be implemented in a smooth manner
without the occurrence of barriers, for instance, when a person is discussing a vital
issue with somebody, or two friends are having a friendly conversation and a door
bell rings or somebody enters then in most cases, it is displeasing. There are
number of reasons due to which these barriers take place, most of the barriers carry
a reason, for instance, if some important task is going on and a door bell rings and
somebody enters immediately, this might have occurred due to a particular reason
and there are also numerous factors which can be physical barriers, such as faults
that take place in the telephonic system, internet not working or any barriers which
are random (Usman, n.d.).
Kinds of Barriers to Effective Communication
There are barriers to communication which are of different kinds and possess
various kinds of characteristics: (Communication Theory, n.d.).
I Environmental and Physical BarriersUnder the environmental and physical
barriers, there have been classification of barriers as follows:
a) Time – This is the barrier which is concerned with developing quicker and
speedy channels of communication. For example, when communicating with
somebody, if the process is time consuming such as mailing letters then it is a
barrier, any kind of communication whether, it is done in a formal or an
informal manner, if it is highly time consuming then it proves to be a barrier
and for efficient working, individuals need to develop a faster means of
communication such as electronic mail instead of sending letters by post.
b) Space – It is vital to eliminate the unwanted distance within the
communication system, if the condition requires it, for example, it can occur
in telephonic communication. If two persons need to discuss an important
matter and one of them is in India, whereas other one is in the United States
of America, then telephonic conversation may not prove to be very effective,
then they can send each other details through the system of email.
c) Place – The area, the environment where the communication is taking place
should be clear and not over-crowded. Noise pollution can be a barrier to
effective communication, this is obvious, where there is noise, there a person
cannot efficiently communicate, therefore places and areas with lesser people,
proper ventilation is required for effective communication.
d) Medium – The medium via which the process of communication is taking
place should be effective and appropriate. Communication takes place in
various forms; it is oral, written, audio, video, formal, informal, the medium
used for the purpose of communicating should be accurate, precise and
understandable.
II Semantic Barriers – When communicating with the other persons, no matter
what kind of communication means is utilized, whether it is formal or informal,
it is vital to make use of appropriate words, vocabulary and language; all kinds
of communication should reflect decency. Language and vocabulary that is used
in communication should be understandable to the persons; if a person speaks
only English and a word is used in Spanish then he may or may not understand
the word, for instance, if a person speaks only English, then it could be a
possibility that he might have studied other languages such as Spanish or French.
Two or more persons when they are communicating with each other should use a
common language, so that everyone can understand it well.
III Cultural Barriers – Communication also takes place between people
belonging to different nationalities, religions, castes, creeds, races, ethnicities etc.
in other words, when two persons are communicating with each other, there may
be differences in their cultural backgrounds. It is vital to overcome all the
barriers that might occur within the course of communication. It is crucial to
make people aware of ones own culture with whom they are communicating. In
the form of communication, it is vital to form an understanding and acceptance
of another person’s culture.
IV Psychological Barriers – In the process of communication, it is vital to
understand each other’s mindset and mental capacity; this applies in every case
whether it is a professor giving a lecture or a conversation between the employer
and an employee. If someone is communicating with the other individual or a
group of individuals with an attitude of disinterest or unwillingness then the
process of communication will not be effective. In this case, it would have
believed to be that attitude of the communicators is inappropriate for the purpose
of making the process of communication effectual. It is therefore considered
crucial to overcome the psychological barriers.
V Perception of Reality – When communicating, it is important to understand
various perceptions of a situation or of an issue or a problem. There are different
levels of perceptions that are involved when communicating about a particular
topic, condition, problem, issue, situation, dilemma, stress or a concept. Lacking
understanding about different levels of perceptions may prove to be a barrier. In
order to implement effective communication, it is vital to gain the ‘perception of
reality’ which means information about facts, knowledge, figures, actuality and
what is true. While communicating, it is important to be open, flexible and
transparent.
Barriers to Effective Communication within an Organization and
Procedures for overcoming them
Communication is known to be the key factor for the success of any
organization, within any kind of an organizational structure, individuals have to
work in collaboration, they need to conduct meetings, discuss with each other
various issues regarding their functions and activities; on the other hand, if they
develop amongst themselves strained relations and hard terms then they will not
be able to work effectively and incur profitability, productivity and goodwill
within the organization. In concerning communication, there are some barriers
that every organization deals with; individuals are of the viewpoint that the
process of communication is very simple and straightforward, which is true but,
what makes the process complicated, difficult and tedious, the answer to this is
barriers. Barriers are the ones that make the process of communication difficult.
Within an organization, the common barriers that are part of the communication
are: (Zaineb, 2010).
a) Perceptual Barriers – These are the barriers which arise due to differences of
opinion between two people, differences of the viewpoints does prove to be a
major barrier, therefore these differences do generate a requirement for
effective communication; any kind of disagreement between two persons is
not healthy for the functioning of the organization.
b) Emotional Barriers – At times it happens that people do not develop interest
in communicating with their fellow employees due to the feelings of fear,
mistrust, anger or annoyance, that may arise within their minds and these are
stated to be emotional barriers.
c) Language Barriers – Language is the means which is said to be the most
effective means of communication with others. The language provides
understanding of the content that an individual is willing to express or
communicate with the others. When two persons or groups of people are
involved in communicating with each other and if a common language is used
that is understandable to all individuals then their objectives will be fulfilled
and the process of communication will be made effective. Within an
organization, it is vital to develop a common language in order to
communicate appropriately. For example, when international students come
to study in India, they are not familiar with the national language, hence
English is considered to be the common language that is understood by all
and utilized for the purpose of communication.
d) Cultural Barriers – Within an organization, individuals belonging to different
nationalities, regions, cultures, religions, castes, creed and different status
groups are employed together. These people at times do familiarize
themselves with other people’s cultures and backgrounds, whereas other times
they are even unaware. A cultural barrier occurs when people of different
cultures are unable to communicate with each other efficiently and this
inability may be due diverse factors such as different backgrounds, languages,
customs, viewpoints, ideas, notions and so forth.
e) Physical Barriers – Within an organizational structure, it is vital to have team
spirit and individuals should work in coordination with each other and be
cooperative towards each other. Formal and informal means of
communication occurs within an organization. One of the crucial factors is
proximity within an organizational structure. There is a system of hierarchy
and those individuals who are placed at the higher levels of the hierarchy
have closed doors, offices and cabins and are physically placed at the
distance; their subordinates are in this way unable to communicate with them
and this is a physical barrier to effective communications.
One of the ways to improve the process of communication with an
organization and to remove the barriers to effective organizational
communication is by forming a positive attitude within the workplace. It is
vital to be considerate, respectful and polite with ones colleagues, superiors
and subordinates in order to create an integrated working environment.
Barriers prove to be highly unproductive and will not lead to goodwill of the
organization. It is up to the individuals to possess this responsibility of
overcoming the barriers, working in coordination with the co-workers,
efficiently supervising and managing the subordinates and maintaining
trustworthy relations with ones employers and superiors.
Psychological Barriers to Effective Communication
Communication is stated to be an ongoing continuous process.
Everyone is continuously communicating with the people around them, such
as their family members, friends, helpers, neighbors, relatives, workplace
members, and when a person goes out for shopping then too with the
shopkeepers and other people communication takes place. Communication is
also referred to as a skill that is pertinent in ones daily life and an individual is
required to be competent in this skill by him self or via means of observing
others (Skills you need, 2011). Psychological barriers to effective
communication have been classified into:
a) Marital Barriers – When an individual is married, then also
communication is considered to be one of the most important factors in a
relationship. Between spouses there are psychological barriers to
communication that might develop; the reasons may be due to irrelevant
information, fear, insecurity or misunderstandings; these reasons are not
always correct but when a marital barrier occurs then it is a possibility that
these reasons might be the cause. For example, partners within the course
of time may feel that they are not happy with each other and the ultimate
outcome is divorce or separation; when the partners have decided that they
are going to get separated or divorced then there is lack of communication
between them. These factors are indicated as psychological barriers
between the partners.
b) Academic Culture – In academic institutions such as a university; there are
different departments, each department has a chairperson, professors,
students and other staff members. Communicating in an effective manner
is extremely crucial within the university or in any other academic
institution. For example, a professor teaches a topic and some students
within the class may have differing viewpoints so that does not mean that
the professor will not instruct or communicate with those students. Within
the university, there are different cultures, subcultures, nationalities,
traditions, norms, values etc; in one classroom, it is a possibility that out of
so many students, there may be few Sikhs, Muslims, Christians or Hindus,
they all have to develop mutual ties and communicate effectively with
each other which is essential in acquiring academic learning. A
psychological barrier that might arise in the case of an academic institution
are some students may face difficulties in some programs, they may find
some concepts hard to understand, these are considered to be
psychological barriers because they are unable to understand from a
different perspective through a logical viewpoint.
c) Communication Flow – In accordance with the communication flow
theory, individuals can communicate only up to a certain extent; the reason
for this is that the knowledge they possess is limited. Directly this means
that people who are smart have good communication skills as compared to
people who are not very knowledgeable; this also depends upon the nature
of the person, for instance, individuals who are isolated, who do not have a
large social network and who do not inculcate themselves into
communication with others should not be hold responsible, the reason
being that they possess inadequate information that is required for
effective communication. It is the individual himself who decides whether
he/she possesses efficient communication skills.
Content Barriers to Effective Communication
Content barriers are stated to be the factors that cause hindrances,
distractions, disturbances or obstacles during the course of the
communication
process; barriers that occur during the course of the communication process tend
to distort, block, alter or misrepresent the information that is being exchanged
between the sender and the receiver. No matter what place or area it is, whether it
is a workplace, home, recreation park, shopping complex etc. barriers tend to take
place within the course of communication everywhere. What is important is the
identification of those barriers and adoption of measures in order to overcome
them. Content barriers have been identified into the following categories: (Smith,
2015).
a) Non-assertive Behavior – It is a barrier during the course of communication,
the reason being that this kind of behavior on the part of somebody breaks
down the communication between the people; this kind of behavior develops
unwillingness to communicate with indecisive people.
b) Anger or Frustration – It is a barrier, the reason being that when an
individual is angry or frustrated than no one shows interest in
communicating with people with this kind of an attitude; the reason for
unwillingness to communicate with angry and frustrated people is that in
these kinds of approaches people tend to communicate in an inappropriate
manner.
c) Personal Bias – When a person is personally biased to one person rather than
the other, then there is breakdown of communication between people; for
instance, sometimes teachers tend to get biased for one student in class
rather then the other, when students feel that a teacher is biased towards a
particular student, then they tend to develop some kind of negativity and
there is break down of communication between them.
d) Team Diversity – As it has been understood, within the organizational
settings, educational institutions and other places, individuals are from
diverse backgrounds, they have different religions, castes, cultures,
traditions, norms, beliefs, customs, ethnicity and sometimes they even speak
different languages; hence, all these factors are stated to be barriers within
the course of effective communication.
e) Lack of Confidence – When two or more individuals are involved in
communication with each other, it is vital that they are confident and possess
the required ability to communicate; when an individual lacks the
confidence, ability to communicate well or get involved in an oral
conversation or written with another, then it is a barrier in the course of
effective communication. Feelings of nervousness, anxiety, apprehension
prove to be barriers within the course of effective communication.
f) Inappropriate Priorities – Priority means the state or quality of being earlier
in time or occurrence; when a certain priority arises which is inappropriate
then it is a barrier to effective communication. For example, if a manager
has a meeting or a group discussion with his subordinates and all of a sudden
a family emergency comes up and he is required to hurry to his house and is
unable to go for the meeting, then a family emergency is said to be an
inappropriate priority during the course of his work.
g) Organizational Structure – In some cases, an organizational structure is
formulated in a complicated manner which proves to be a barrier to effective
communication, the structure should be simple and not complex; for
instance, if the structure is large and there is lot of space, employees may not
even see each other and may not be able to communicate with each other
effectively, therefore, it is vital that within the organizational structure, the
employees should be well familiar with each other.
h) Distractions and Interruptions – While communicating, there are number of
distractions that occur for instance, in telephonic conversations, disturbances
in the line, when internet is not working, some kind of noise in the
background, people doing their work and ringing of the door bell, people
having a meeting and somebody entering the room without notifying etc.
i) Tunnel Vision – Tunnel vision means unable to depict accuracy at the 100%
level; when one is not accurate and precise about the situation, case, concept
or a circumstance about which communication is taking place, this is also a
barrier to effective communication.
j) Rank Differences – When there are differences in the rank of individuals
within an organizational setting, then it is a barrier to effective
communication; people who are subordinates, in other words they are low in
rank do not tend to communicate effectively with people of the higher rank;
they may have a feeling of disparity or would feel discriminated against. Not
only within the organizational structure but also economically backward
sections of the society do not communicate in an effective manner with
upper class, wealthy individuals; therefore, rank differences prove to be
barriers to effective communication.
k) Task Preoccupation – In this case, for example, an individual has to go for a
very important formal meeting with a client and when he is about to leave
another client enters in order to resolve some issues, then it becomes his job
duty that he should attend to the issues of that client before leaving for the
meeting; in this case, a client coming up instantly without informing proves
to be a barrier to effective communication.
Overcoming Communication Barriers
1. Eliminating Differences in PerceptionWithin the organization when
individuals are recruited, their performance, qualifications, skills,
abilities, knowledge, attitude should be taken into consideration; there
should be proper training and development programs, employee selection
procedures and individuals should possess effective communication skills
especially regarding the English language, they should be fluent in
English, in speaking as well as in writing.
2. Use of Simple Language – While communicating no matter what
language, the use of words should be understandable, clear and simple;
usage of complicated words might make an individual perplexed and
such words should be avoided.
3. Reduction and Elimination of Noise Levels – Noise is the most common
barrier which occurs everywhere, for instance, when family members are
communicating at home, constant noise comes from busy neighborhoods,
or at the workplace too while working on the computers, people may get
engaged in informal conversations, hence that leads to emergence of
noise levels. It is necessary to identify the sources of noise and then
formulating measures in order to eliminate those sources.
4. Active Listening – The receiver should listen to the speaker with
awareness and in a considerate manner; he/she should respond by asking
questions, the speaker should always be aware of the fact that the listener
understands everything that he is saying and this overcomes the barrier to
effective communication.
5. Emotional State – During communication, the speaker is required to
make effective use of body language and not depict ones emotional state;
for example, if the speaker is upset due to some reason than he should not
portray his distress in his speech, the listeners might misinterpret the
information if it is delivered by a speaker in a distressed mood.
6. Simple Organizational Structure – The hierarchical levels within the
organization should be optimum in number; the operations and functions
implemented within the organization, the leadership skills, span of
control, authority, rules, policies should be organized appropriately and
put into operation in an effective manner.
7. Avoid Information Overload – Employers as well as the employees
should not overload themselves with work; they should manage their
work for the day accordingly, extended working hours should be avoided
and employees should also take out time during their working hours to
listen to the subordinates and workers grievances; they should practice
effective time management skills.
8. Provide Constructive Feedback – While making provision of feedback to
the employees and subordinates, negativity should be avoided and
feedback should always be delivered in a constructive manner; negative
feedback is stated to be a barrier to effective communication. The content
of the feedback can be negative, if the superior feels that there have been
some misinterpretations, but it should be communicated in a constructive
manner with a positive attitude.
9. Proper Media Selection – The medium of communication should be
proper; if it is a simple message or just a minor notice, it can be delivered
either through a face to face conversation or through a telephone;
information which is complicated and lengthy should be delivered in a
written manner for example, through letters, notices, newspapers or
electronic mail, therefore proper media selection also leads to effective
communication.
10Flexibility in Meeting the Targets – Employees when they are employed
within an organization, should work towards accomplishing the desired
goals and objectives, they should not be put under pressure to complete a
particular assignment within a particular time period, in other words, they
should be allowed sufficient time, especially when the task is extensive; in
accomplishing the organization’s goals and objectives, it is essential to have
effective means of communication and flexibility should be allowed in
meeting of the targets.
Discussion and Summary
In the concluding part of this manuscript, it is vital to highlight that effective
communication is very essential not only for the development and
progress of the organizational structure, educational institution, academic learning
or in implementation of ones daily routine tasks but also for the individual as a
whole. There are number of barriers that do come within the course of
communication, these are environmental and physical barriers, semantic barriers,
cultural barriers, psychological barriers and perception of reality. Within an
organizational structure, many barriers arise and there have been formulation of
certain measures and procedures for overcoming them, these are perceptual
barriers, emotional barriers, language barriers, cultural barriers and physical
barriers; the most effective and successful means of overcoming barriers of
effective organizational communication is by forming an optimistic approach
within the workplace and it is regarded as mandatory to develop politeness, good
manners and respect within ones approaches and attitude. Psychological barriers to
effective communication can be marital barriers, academic culture and
communication flow. Content barriers to effective communication are non-
assertive behavior, anger or frustration, personal bias, team diversity, lack of
confidence, inappropriate priorities, organizational structure, distractions and
interruptions, tunnel vision, rank differences and task preoccupation. In the final
part of the manuscript, steps have been identified to overcome the communication
barriers, these are, eliminating differences in perception, use of simple language,
reduction and elimination of noise levels, active listening, emotional state, simple
organizational structure, avoid information overload, provide constructive
feedback, proper media selection and flexibility in meeting the targets.
It is essential to overcome the barriers by identifying the causes that give rise to
them, some of the barriers are avoidable whereas some are unavoidable and an
individual is not left with any option but to face the barriers. Keeping the
technology updated, developing within oneself effective speaking and listening
skills, being respectful, being fluent in English language, not speaking to each
other while working on an important assignment, developing effective leadership,
stress management, anger management, time management skills and so forth, these
are some of the ways that lead to avoidance of barriers; some of the barriers are
unavoidable such as inappropriate priorities, when these kinds of barriers come up
then the individual should develop within himself the confidence and aptitude to
deal with such kinds of barriers. Implementation of solutions to remove those
barriers leads to effective communication as well as efficiency in achieving the
desired goals and objectives. Finally, it can be stated that barriers do come up
within the course of communication, but in order to effectively communicate,
individuals should possess efficient speaking and listening skills, they should make
sure that the listeners are understanding their viewpoints and concepts, they should
make use of simple language, whether it is an oral or a written communication, be
courteous and polite so that individuals do not misinterpret any kind of
communication, possess efficient knowledge of the concepts and ideas that they are
communicating and there should be no personal bias or discrimination between
people of different religions, cultures, race, ethnicities, creed and socio-economic
backgrounds.
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Smith, C. (2015). The Seven Barriers of Communication. Retrieved June 19,
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communication
... Kapur outlines language barriers among communication barriers. These barriers in intercultural communication arise because representatives of different cultures use different models of perception of social reality through symbolic systems, which is reflected in the used language constructions, styles of oral and written communication [1]. Problems of a linguistic nature often become the first (and consequently the most memorable) difficulties in communicating with representatives of other cultures. ...
... Kapur advises a series of solutions in order to overcome cross-cultural barriers. When communicating with a person or group, one must use a language that they are familiar with [1]. Likewise, one needs to have respect for individuals from different cultures and their values and convictions. ...
... Likewise, one needs to have respect for individuals from different cultures and their values and convictions. When communicating, one should not use terms or references that are exclusively related to a particular culture [1]. Knowing various cultures and traditions will help to get along with individuals from different cultures. ...
... • environmental and physical barriers (Kapur 2018;Swigon 2011:476); ...
Thesis
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... Whereas, due to hierarchies most of the time. Upper level management keeps their doors closed for the communication and maintain a certain distance with subordinates (Kapur, 2018 ...
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