Communication is a process beginning with a sender who encodes the message and passes it through some channel to the receiver who decodes the message. Communication is fruitful if and only if the messages sent by the sender is interpreted with same meaning by the receiver.
If any kind of disturbance blocks any step of communication, the message will be destroyed. Due to such disturbances, managers in an organization face severe problems. Thus the managers must locate such barriers and take steps to get rid of them.
“Things that makes communication or good relationship between people difficult or impossible”
There are several barriers that affects the flow of communication in an organization. These barriers interrupt the flow of communication from the sender to the reciever, thus making communication ineffective. It is essential for managers to overcome these barriers. The main barriers of communication are summarized below.
Miscommunication or Barriers to communication
Problem which effect the transmission from the sender to the receiver in the communication process.
How does miscommunication or barriers arise?
- Problem in developing the message.
- Difficulty in expressing ideas.
- Problems in transmitting the message.
- Problems in receiving the message.
- Problems in interpreting the message
1) Semantic Barriers
If the receiver is not able to comprehend the massage that the sender intends to convey, it results into language barrier in the process of communication.
Distortion in communication comes from semantics- the use of words or expressions which have a different meaning for the sender or receiver.
Created when communicators use technical jargon- usage common to a particular field or specialization
There is always a possibility of misunderstanding the feelings of the sender of the message or getting a wrong meaning of it. The words, signs, and figures used in the communication are explained by the receiver in the light of his experience which creates doubtful situations. This happens because the information is not sent in simple language.
- Badly Expressed Message
Because of the obscurity of language there is always a possibility of wrong interpretation of the messages. This barrier is created because of the wrong choice of words, in civil words, the wrong sequence of sentences and frequent repetitions. This may be called linguistic chaos.
- Symbols or Words with Different Meanings
A symbol or a word can have different meanings. If the receiver misunderstands the communication, it becomes meaningless.
The word ‘value’ can have different meanings in the following sentences:
- What is the value of computer education these days?
- What is the value of this mobile set?
- Value our friendship.
- Faulty Translation
A manager receives much information from his superiors and subordinates and he translates it for all the employees according to their level of understanding. Hence, the information has to be moulded according to the understanding or environment of the receiver. If there is a little carelessness in this process, the faulty translation can be a barrier in the communication.
- Unclarified Assumptions
It has been observed that sometimes a sender takes it for granted that the receiver knows some basic things and, therefore, it is enough to tell him about the major subject matter. This point of view of the sender is correct to some extent with reference to the daily communication, but it is absolutely wrong in case of some special message,
- Technical Jargon
Generally, it has been seen that the people working in an enterprise are connected with some special technical group who have their separate technical language.
Their communication is not so simple as to be understood by everybody. Hence, technical language can be a barrier in communication.
This technical group includes industrial engineers, production development manager, quality controller, etc.
- Body Language and Gesture Decoding
When the communication is passed on with the help of body language and gestures, its misunderstanding hinders the proper understanding of the message.
- Moving one’s neck to reply to a question does not indicate properly whether the meaning is ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.
- A message that includes a lot of specialist jargon and abbreviations will not be understood by a receiver who is not familiar with the terminology used.
- Definition of words
- Choice of words
- Use of unsuitable words .
- Improper sentence formation.
2) Organizational Barriers
Every organization has its own structure and communication techniques.
Organisational structure greatly affects the capability of the employees as far as the communication is concerned. Some major organisational hindrances in the way of communication are the following:
- Organisational Policies
Organisational policies determine the relationship among all the persons working in the enterprise. For example, it can be the policy of the organisation that communication will be in the written form. In such a situation anything that could be conveyed in a few words shall have to be communicated in the written form. Consequently, work gets delayed.
- Rules and Regulations
Organisational rules become barriers in communication by determining the subject-matter, medium, etc. of communication. Troubled by the definite rules, the senders do not send some of the messages.
Under organising all the employees are divided into many categories on the basis of their level. This formal division acts as a barrier in communication especially when the communication moves from the bottom to the top.
For example, when a lower-level employee has to send his message to a superior at the top level there is a lurking fear in his mind that the communication may be faulty, and because of this fear, he cannot convey himself clearly and in time. It delays the decision making.
- Complexity in Organisational Structure
The greater number of managerial levels in an organisation makes it more complex. It results in delay in communication and information gets changed before it reaches the receiver. In other words, negative things or criticism are concealed. Thus, the more the number of managerial levels in the organisation, the more ineffective the communication becomes.
- Organisational Facilities
Organisational facilities mean making available sufficient stationery, telephone, translator, etc. When these facilities are sufficient in an organisation, the communication will be timely, clear and in accordance with necessity. In the absence of these facilities communication becomes meaningless.
- Processing of information from several people.
- Organizational rules.
3) Inter personal barriers
The barriers occur due to individual as well as cultural differences.
The above-mentioned organisational barriers are important in themselves but there are some barriers which are directly connected with the sender and the receiver. They are called personal barriers. From the point of view of convenience, they have been divided into two parts:
- Barriers Related to Superiors:
These barriers are as follows:
- Fear of Challenge of Authority
Everybody desires to occupy a high office in the organisation. In this hope the officers try to conceal their weaknesses by not communicating their ideas. There is a fear in their mind that in case the reality comes to light they may have to move to the lower level,
- Lack of Confidence in Subordinates
Top-level superiors think that the lower- level employees are less capable and, therefore, they ignore the information or suggestions sent by them. They deliberately ignore the communication from their subordinates in order to increase their own importance. Consequently, the self-confidence of the employees is lowered.
- Barriers Related to Subordinates:
Subordinates-related barriers are the following:
- Unwillingness to Communicate
Sometimes the subordinates do not want to send any information to their superiors. When the subordinates feel that the information is of negative nature and will adversely affect them, an effort is made to conceal that information.
If it becomes imperative to send this information, it is sent in a modified or amended form. Thus, the subordinates, by not clarifying the facts, become a hindrance in communication,
- Lack of Proper Incentive
Lack of incentive to the subordinates creates a hindrance in communication. The lack of incentive to the subordinates is because of the fact that their suggestions or ideas are not given any importance. If the superiors ignore the subordinates, they become in different towards any exchange of ideas in future.
- Attitude of superiors.
- Emotional feelings.
4) Psychological Barrier
Physiological barriers to communication are those that result from the performance characteristics and limitations of the human body and the human mindThe importance of communication depends on the mental condition of both the parties.
For example, a receiver with reduced hearing may not grasp to entirety of a spoken conversation especially if there is significant background noise.
Psychological barriers are often caused by:
A mentally disturbed party can be a hindrance in communication. Following are the emotional barriers in the way of communication:
- Premature Evaluation:
Sometimes the receiver of information tries to dig out meaning without much thinking at the time of receiving or even before receiving information, which can be wrong. This type of evaluation is a hindrance in the exchange of information and the enthusiasm of the sender gets dampened.
- Lack of Attention
When the receiver is preoccupied with some important work he/she does not listen to the message attentively.
An employee is talking to his boss when the latter is busy in some important conversation. In such a situation the boss may not pay any attention to what subordinate is saying. Thus, there arises psychological hurdle in the communication.
- Loss by Transmission and Poor Retention
When a message is received by a person after it has passed through many people, generally it loses some of its truth. This is called loss by transmission. This happens normally in case of oral communication. Poor retention of information means that with every next transfer of information the actual form or truth of the information changes.
According to one estimate, with each transfer of oral communication the loss of the information amounts to nearly 30%. This happens because of the carelessness of people. Therefore, lack of transmission of information in its true or exact form becomes a hindrance in communication.
For successful communication the transmitter and the receiver must trust each other. If there is a lack of trust between them, the receiver will always derive an opposite meaning from the message. Because of this, communication will become meaningless.
When a person is not able to communicate effectively because of mental disturbances.
If someone is stressed they may be preoccupied by personal concerns and not as receptive to the message as if they were not stressed.
- Fixed ideas .
The distracting element found in the surrounding environment that does not allow proper communication.
There are a host of physical factors that can prevent individuals from having an effective communication. Physical barriers relate to disturbance in the immediate milieu, which can interfere in the course of an effective communication.
Some barriers are due to the existing environment. If you are standing in adverse weather conditions, your conversation would be hampered, because you would not be able to pay full attention to what the other person is saying.
The ambience in which you are having a conversation also plays an important part in the quality of a conversation. If the place is too noisy, or two crowded, you may not be able to clearly listen to the speaker.
If you are having a conversation with someone along the roadside, the noise of the passing vehicles can make it difficult for you to concentrate on what you are saying, apart from interfering in effective listening. Similarly, if you are talking to someone in scorching heat, then the physical discomfort can easily cause you to be disinterested in the conversation.
Distance also plays an important part in determining the course of a conversation. For example, if the staff in an organization are made to sit in different buildings or different floors, they might have to substitute face to face communication with phone calls or emails. This prevents the employees to have effective communication with each other.
If a manager and his subordinate are seated at different buildings of an organization, then the manager may have to give out instructions over the phone or over the email, which can sometimes lead to a lack of effective communication.
3.Ignorance of Medium
Communication also includes using signs and symbols to convey a feeling or a thought. However, if there is a lack of ignorance about the medium in which sender is sending the message, the conversation can be hampered.
The use of signs to communicate can be seen in games like soccer and hockey, where players do not want the opposing team to know about their plans and may converse through codes and signs. However, if a member of a team is not acquainted with these signs, it can lead to a lack of communication.
Physical disability can also prove to be a barrier for effective communication.
People with physical disabilities generally are at a disadvantage when it comes to gaining employment. They have been marginalized through ages, and this can cause them to have a low self-esteem and social anxiety.
It can cause a physically challenged person to have face difficulties in self-disclosure and can hamper his interpersonal skills.
- Poor lighting.
Practical Examples of Barriers in Communication
|Apparent “cause”||Practical Example|
|Physiological||Message in an internal report not received due to blindness.|
|Psychological||Message from external stakeholder ignored due to „groupthink‟|
|Cultural||Message from organisation misinterpreted by members of a particular group|
|Political||Message from internal stakeholder not sent because individual is marginalised|
|Economic||Message not available to a public sector organisation due to lack of resources|
|Technological||Message not delivered due to technical failure|
|Physical||Message cannot be heard and visual aids cannot be seen by some members of the audience|