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3.3 Communication Barriers

durenmgmail-com November 9, 2021

The skilled communicator needs to be aware of the barriers for communication to be effective. In many communications methods, the message may not be received exactly the way the sender intended. Hence, the communicator must seek feedback to check that their message is clearly understood.

Barriers may lead to the sender’s message becoming distorted so that what is received is different from what is intended by the speaker.

There are numerous barriers to communication, and these may occur at any stage in the communication process. Some common barriers to effective communication include:

  • Cultural differences- The norms of social interaction differ considerably in different cultures, as do how emotions are displayed. For example, the concept of personal space differs between cultures and between different social settings.
  • The use of jargon- over-complicated or unfamiliar terms.
  • Emotional barriers and taboos.
  • Lack of attention, interest, distractions, or irrelevance to the receiver.
  • Differences in perception and viewpoint.
  • Physical disabilities, such as hearing problems or speech difficulties.
  • Physical barriers to non-verbal communication.
  • Language differences and the difficulty in understanding unfamiliar accents.

A skilful communicator must be aware of these barriers and try to lessen their impact by continually checking if the message is understood and encouraging appropriate feedback.

  1. Barriers to Communication by Category

Language Barriers

  • Language and linguistic ability may be a barrier to communication; especially if the speaker and receiver do not use the same language and words, there is no meaning. Not using the words that other people understand makes the communication ineffective and prevents conveying the message.
  • However, even when communicating in the same language, the terminology used in a message may act as a barrier if it is not fully understood by the receiver(s).
  • For example, a message that includes a lot of technical jargon and abbreviations may not be understood by a receiver unfamiliar with the terminology used.

Psychological Barriers

  • The psychological state of the receiver will influence how the message is received. This can also affect how the sender communicates.
  • For example, if someone has personal concerns and is in a stressed state of mind, they may be preoccupied with these concerns and not as receptive to the message.
  • Someone who speaks when they are angry or upset can easily say things that they may later regret, and they may also misinterpret what message others are talking about or trying to send them.
  • People with low self-esteem may not feel comfortable communicating – they may feel shy about what is on their minds or how they feel. They may also read negative sub-texts into messages they hear.

Physiological Barriers

  • Physiological barriers result from the receiver’s physical state. An example can be poor eyesight to read text. Another example is a receiver with poor hearing, which may not hear and understand the entirety of a spoken conversation, especially if there is significant background noise.

Physical barriers

Physical barriers can prevent an individual from being able to interpret non-verbal cues. These barriers include:

  • Worn-out or broken equipment used for communication
  • Uncomfortable temperatures
  • Environment noise
  • Poor lighting
  • Communicating in a rushed or anxious state

Attitudinal Barriers

  • Attitudinal barriers are perceptions or behaviours that prevent people from communicating effectively. Attitudinal barriers to communication may occur from personality conflicts, poor management, resistance to change, or a loss of motivation.