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Barriers to Communication

Barriers to Communication
Cultural Barriers

There are many factors that make up what we


refer to as culture but to me, cultural
difference is about attitudes and beliefs that
come from our personal environment and
experience. As such, two people could get the
same message but interpret it in two entirely
different ways simply because their frames of
reference and language differ.

What To Do
Consider the cultural makeup of the
intended audience.
Seek to understand where there are
differences.
Fashion the message to ensure that it
says what you mean and also takes
those differences into account.

Linguistic Barriers
Variance in expression or colloquialism is common
even among those who speak
thesamelanguage.

What To Do
Minimize the use of slang and idioms when
delivering the message
Keep the language used in the message simple
and as free as possible from business speakor
sports metaphors.
Make clarity and simplicity the goal over
showcasing linguistic ability.

Biases
We all have them. Bias is, after all, shaped by our
experiences andwho we are. It becomes an
obstacle to effective communication though when
we consciously or subconsciously choose to speak
only to those who are more likely to understand
and agree with us. Its natural. But in leadership,
it is also important to extend the reach of our
message to those whose biases do not
necessarily align with our own.
The workplace, for example, now employs more
than one generation of people. Each generation
has its view of the world. Each generation also
has its challenges. And yet, the messages you
send must finds ways to reach and engage
everyoneto be effective.

What To Do
Acknowledge your own biases first
Look through the lens of those who
are least likely to align with your
views
Listen.
Fashion your message to include
something that everyone can relate
to.

Assumptions
Assumptions sabotage effective communication
and have the potential to lead everyone down
unintended paths. For instance, you may assume
that because people are nodding while you
speak, they understand and agree with what you
are saying. Similarly, if you invite questions about
your message and get none, it would be easy to
assume therearenone. The truth is, few people
will risk the potential embarrassment of being the
only one who doesnt agree with or understand
your message or doesnt know what to ask. To
assume they do would be a mistake.

What to do
Work on the basis that all your
assumptionscouldbe false
Make your assumptions known to
others to determine their validity
Anticipate questions and concerns
that could come out of your message
and bring them up to encourage
conversation

Some more Barriers to


Communication
Organizational structure: All organizations,
irrespective of their size, have their own
communication techniques and each nurtures its
own communication climate
Difference in Status: When people belonging to
different hierarchical positions communicate with
each other, there is a possibility of
miscommunication.
Lack of trust: Establishing credibility or building
trust among subordinates or with colleagues is a
difficult task.
Closed communication climate: An organization's
communication climate is based on its
management style.

Incorrect choice of Medium: Choosing an


inappropriate communication medium can distort
the image and block the intended meaning.
Information overload: Too much information is
bad because it reduces the audiences ability to
concentrate on the most important part of the
message.
Message complexity: There are two significant
reasons for any message to become complex in a
business setting one, the difficult nature of the
message and the other, the difficulty in
understanding it.
Message competition: Invariably, most of the
business messages compete for the full and
undivided attention of their receivers.

Unethical communication: Relationships within


and outside the organization depend on trust and
fairness. It does not mean that the organizations
should not be tactful.
Physical Distractions: Communication barriers are
often physical: bad connections, poor sound
quality, illegible copy etc.

Steps to overcome Barriers


1. Consider seriously the recipient of your
message.
2. Think about how to send the message,
i.e., should the mode be verbal or
written.
3. Follow up your verbal message with a
written statement.
4. Decide who can communicate with
whome. As a leader, your goal is to
combine simplicity with effectiveness.

Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your


communication skills so that when important occasions
arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness,
the clarity and the emotions to affect other people.--Jim Rohn