In this article we will discuss about the barriers of communication and ways to overcome the same.

Barriers to Communication:

Barriers or obstacles to communication may cause break-down, distortions and inaccurate rumours. The blocks to easy and effective flow of communication are occurring due to number of reasons.

The barriers to communication may be classified as follows:

(1) Physical Barriers


(2) Personal Barriers

(3) Organisational Barriers

(4) Semantic Barriers and

(5) Mechanical Barriers.


(1) Physical Barriers:

It refer to environmental factors that obstruct the free flow of communication. They include physical distance, distracting noises etc.

(2) Personal or Socio-Psychological Barriers:

Receptability and credibility of messages are subject to several mental and social barriers. Personal barriers arise from motives, attitudes, judgement, emotions and social values which may create psychological barriers. Persons may be unaware of attitudes and sentiments of the sender and inter-personal perceptions and inter­personal emotions may cause communication break downs.


This is due to personal thinking, prejudices and expectations. What is important to one person may not be important to another. Absence of self-confidence or fear may restrict an individual in earring out with true wants and needs. Conflicting needs and thinking may also affect the free flow of information.

Some managers lose credibility if they are indecisive, trivolous, inconsistent and discreet in evolving and transmitting information. People receive information from them do not attach much importance to it.

(3) Organisation Barriers:

The organisational structure and design may act as a block due to any one of the following reasons and some of them are:


(a) Several layers of management

(b) Long-lines of communication

(c) Long distance of subordinates from top management

(d) Lack of instructions for passing information to subordinates and


(e) Heavy pressure of work on certain levels of authority.

Besides these the points specified below are worth considering in this connection.

(a) The managers in between may act as communication filters and communication prisms. They may colour the information for transmission and filter them.

(b) Managers may reflect or deflect a message.


(c) Status is also a barrier to communication. The temper and attitude of the middle management may affect the free flow of communication. The managers may be influenced by prestige, ego and strategy, under-rating the understanding and intelligence of subordinates, Prejudices among supervisors and subordinates may effect the free flow of information.

(d) Poor supervision also serves as a communication barrier. A supervisor may have mistrust about his employees, act as a self-appointed censor and listens to subordinates with a closed mind there is communication barrier.

(4) Semantic Barriers:

Semantic is the science of meaning symbols or words usually having a variety of meanings. The sender and the receiver are to choose the same meaning. This will promote better understanding. The flow of communication becomes complete and perfect. The semantic barriers arise from the limitations of the symbolic system. Symbols may reach a person’s brain through any of the senses like hearing or feeling. Symbols may be clas­sified as language, picture or action.


a. Language:

At any level there may be verbal and non-verbal communication. Every common word has several meanings, in verbal communication classification can be sought immediately but not-in-non-verbal communication.

b. Picture:

Pictures are visual aids worth thousand words. A viewer may come to know of the whole story on seeing pictures. An organisation makes use of pictures like charts, maps, films etc.

c. Action:

This is another symbol used in communication. It becomes effective when it is interpreted by others. At work spot communication takes place by actions and they are considered better than words. There should be consistency and co-relation between action and words. Negative correlation develops want of credibility. Body language means communicating a message with the movement of whole body or part of it. Generally facial expressions and hand movements are used for this.


(5) Mechanical Barriers:

The term mechanical barriers include inadequate arrangement in transmitting new facts and figures, poor office layout, Defective practices and procedures and the use of wrong medical resulting in poor communication.

The barriers discussed above may vitiate the message in many ways. The major problems are distortion, filtering and omission. Distortion means changing the context of the message or its meaning. Filtering means reducing the message only to a few basic details. Omission means deletion of all or part of the message. Communication will not be perfectly effective if there is faulty transmission. The above mentioned barriers should be removed to achieve effective communication.

Overcoming Barriers to Communication:

To remove and to counter the barriers to communication, the organisation and managers must follow the policy of open door. To promote co-operation and understanding an atmosphere of trust and confidence are to be developed. To minimise the occurrence of barriers and to meet it effectively, the under-mentioned points are worth considering.

(1) Promote free-flow of communication on all direction i.e. downward, upward and sideways. Superiors, subordinates and associates must feel free to share relevant information and ideas in organisations about their functions. All the systems and sub systems of the organisation must be reciprocally related by communication.

(2) Feedback is to be provided to the managers to know the effectiveness of performance in tune with the orders issued. Feedback information flows upwards and downwards. Its objective is to reinforce or connect the action implied in any act of communication. There should be no communication gap.


(3) Strengthen Communication Network:

This is achieved by simplifying communication procedures, minimising organisation players in downward communication and timely dissemination of information to subor­dinates. These measures will help to minimise distortion and dilution of messages. A speedy and timely flow of communication increases its carrying capacity without any additional cost. The timely flow contributes to its credibility.

(4) Formulate Listener Oriented Message:

The language of communication should be clear, complete, concise, concrete and correct. A great deal of attention is paid to the language which does not lend itself to varying interpretations. As far as possible avoid the use of technical terms.

(5) Selection of Right Media:

The managers are to choose the right media for the fast flow and timely reach of communication. This should facilitate the reaching of its destination at the right time, to the right person and at the right sense. Of the wide range of the media available, the transmitter should be careful and choosy.


(6) Removal of Organisation and Socio-Psychological Barriers:

Filtering, deletion, distortion are to be avoided. This can be achieved by short lines of information flow and giving importance to the speed of transmission of messages. Bossism and status consciousness should not come in the way of communication.

(7) Protective Listening:

The subordinates should be allowed to express their views and suggestions and this should be given proper consideration and weightage by supervisors. No additions and deletions are to be made.

(8) Promote Participative Approach from Subordinates:

They must be allowed to participate in decision making process. In a good communication system there should be a balanced blending of formal and informal channels.


(9) Flexible system of communication must exist to adjust the changing organizational requirements. It should absorb new techniques of communication with little resistance.

Communication plays a very important role in management. It promotes co-operation through understanding and management efficiency. It forms the basis of leadership action. It is responsible for securing desired co-ordination. It promotes job satisfaction among employees. So management should take sufficient care to provide an effective communication system in the organisation.