Compilation of answers we got on the barriers to communication. This will further help you to learn about:- 1. Types of Barriers to Communication 2. Barriers to Communication 3. Overcoming Barriers to Communication 4. List of Communication Barriers 5. Physical Barriers to Communication 6. Organizational Barriers to Communication. This article also includes a list of measure and methods to overcome communication barriers.
Answer 1. Types of Barriers to Communication:
There are various barriers to good and effective communication. But the main barrier is the fact that many organizations really do not provide or encourage two-way communication. There are other barriers causing breakdowns, distortion or rumours. If these barriers are removed a considerable degree of effectiveness and accuracy can be achieved in communication.
The following are the important barriers to communication:
1. Barriers in Organizational Structure:
A rigid and ultra-formal organizational structure creates problems of re-communication. Ulrich and Booz have stated that good communication exists where anyone in the organization is free to contact whoever can help him with his problems.
Long lines of communication, great distance of subordinates from superiors, lack of proper and regular instructions, and overloading of work at certain levels of authority may also create barriers of communication.
2. Semantic Barriers:
Semantics is the science of meaning. The receiver of the message should perceive and understand the message in the same sense in which the sender has communicated it. As words will have different meanings, they may be understood in different senses by different people.
3. Difference in Status or Rank:
Difference in rank and status is always a source of misunderstanding. The placing of persons in superior and subordinate relationships may inhibit a free flow of information, ideas, suggestions and questions. What the superior sees in his position as responsibility, the subordinate sees as power.
Sometimes, mild criticism or a small piece of advice given by a superior to help a subordinate may be taken as a strong reprimand. The greater the rank difference, the greater will be the distortion. Factors which increase the rank barriers are unavailability at short notice, special executive chambers, elaborate offices, etc.
The superior with his status may feel that he cannot fully admit to his subordinates those problems, conditions or results which may reflect adversely on his ability and judgment.
4. Badly Expresses Messages:
Messages which are vague, abstract, lack coherence, have poor sentence formation, are repetitive, etc. may affect the quality of the communication.
5. Faulty Translation:
Language is an important barrier. Every type of information has to be translated into understandable pieces of information.
6. Loss by Transmission and Retention:
In oral communication, 30 percent of the information is lost in each transmission. Even in written communication, there may be poor retention.
7. Distrust of the Communicator:
If a superior-has no trust and confidence in his employees, he will tend to listen to them in a prejudiced or biased manner. Ultimately, this may result in inaccurate responses and ineffective communication.
8. Faulty Listening:
Telling will be meaning unless someone is listening to it. Listening requires thinking, processing and understanding the message. One must have patience, interest and active participation in listening.
9. Emotional Approach:
When a communication is packed with emotion, there will not be any objectivity in it.
10. Resistance to Change:
When new ideas are introduced, they may not be welcomed by employees as they may prefer to maintain status quo. Change in timing or methodology may not be received immediately and accepted well.
11. Overloading of Communication:
Overloading of communication channels may create a traffic jam in the channels resulting in noise and irrelevant messages, as happens often in telephones.
One can overcome all such barriers by planning the communication system properly, and by recognizing the human elements involved in it. Messages must be direct and simple; the language should be understandable; provision for a good feedback system has to be made; listening should be proper and effective; and there must be coherence, clarity and consistency in communication.
Methods of Overcoming Communication Barriers:
I. Each and every employee in an organization should take responsibility for sending message.
II. For communicating a particular message, the management has to follow the upward, downward or horizontal systems.
III. The management has to inform all employees about the need for communication.
IV. The message should be sent in a simple and clear language.
V. A good information system should be established.
VI. If necessary, communication should be sent informally.
VII. Employees must send correct information.
Answer 2. Barriers to Communication:
Several factors may disrupt the communication process or come in the way of effective communication.
These can be listed thus:
Barriers to Communication # 1. Semantic Barriers:
Many of our communication problems are semantic in nature, as the same word may convey a different meaning to different people. The use of jargon can also create a barrier to communication. The vocabulary and jargon employed by engineers, statisticians, and skilled mechanics convey little meaning to unskilled and less-educated persons.
Breakdowns in communication, thus, result when the sender does not tailor the message to match the knowledge base of the receiver. Further, some people have a limited inventory of words with which to express themselves. Others complicate the communication process through the use of empty and high-sounding words. It should be remembered that words are building blocks, and only the correct use of the blocks can create a structure.
Barriers to Communication # 2. Interpersonal Barriers:
I. Can’t Express Effectively:
The old expression “the mouth was in gear before the mind was operating reveals one form of breakdown in communication. Some people cannot communicate effectively because they cannot use words and their personality effectively. They might have instructed their subordinates to do a piece of work politely but the subordinates may feel that they have been ‘told’ to do the work. One’s outward appearance, gestures, smile, animation, eyes, bodily posture, vitality and tone are all an expression of one’s personality—an imperative tool to win over those with whom one is talking.
Barriers to Communication # II. Filtering:
Any attempt to alter and colour information to present a more favourable impression is called filtering. Since subordinates are evaluated on the worth of their performance, they try to filter information as it progresses up the chain of command. They short-circuit information and tell the boss what he wants to hear. Such attempts lead to message distortion and an incorrect impression of the real situation is created.
Barriers to Communication # III. Credibility:
Research has shown that we are more likely to accept information when we have a favourable attitude toward the sender. Credibility is based on a person’s competence in the subject area being communicated, and is based on the degree of confidence in the person. All managerial efforts to motivate subordinates would fail if subordinates believe that managers are not credible and trustworthy. Those managers having a high credibility rating find it easy to send messages to subordinates; and subordinates, in turn, are more likely to accept their messages, sometimes even blindly.
Barriers to Communication # IV. Inattention:
Inattention is another barrier. We often hear but do not listen. This is more so in the case of highly repetitive material. For example, an employee may pay attention to one ‘No Smoking’ sign but when such signs are put up all over the office, he no longer understands or ‘listens’ to it.
Barriers to Communication # V. Perceptual Differences:
Perceptual differences, i.e., differences in past experiences, educational background, emotions, values and beliefs also affect each person’s perception of a message or of words. Receivers will accept messages that are important to them. Messages that are against their values would be rejected or misperceived.
For example, an accident that has taken place in an office may viewed thus:
(i) The manager may regret the loss of a valuable employee;
(ii) The safety people may resent the fact that their safety record has been tarnished;
(iii) The fellow-employees may see an injured friend;
(iv) The office doctor may see an injured employee to be treated; and
(v) The personnel manager may see the need to find a replacement for the injured person.
Barriers to Communication # VI. Jealousy:
Jealousy also plays an important role in reducing the effectiveness of communications. Competent individuals are viewed as a threat to the security of peers and subordinates. Individuals may try to diminish the worth of another person because they are jealous. If the jealous person is able to attract the attention of the manager, the competent person may find it difficult to communicate with the boss.
Barriers to Communication # VII. Information Overload:
Managers are flooded with information from various corners. But there is no automatic thermostat to control and regulate the flow of information. Modern technology makes it possible for the managers to have the veritable mine of information on their finger-tips, no doubt; but the effectiveness of communication is likely to be hampered when managers allow themselves to be inundated with bundles of data. Perhaps, that is the reason why managers are forced to ignore or just give a cursory review of too many messages. In this process, inevitably, many of the messages are either overlooked or misinterpreted.
Barriers to Communication # VIII. Emotions:
How the receiver feels at the time of receipt of information influences effectively how he interprets the information. For example, if the receiver feels that the communicator is in jovial mood, he interprets that the information being sent by the communicator to be good and interesting. Also, extreme emotions and jubilation of depression are quite likely to come in the way of effective communication.
Barriers to Communication # IX. Time Pressures:
Managers are often subjected to time pressures because decisions must be made within specified deadlines. Such time pressures can create communication problems. Formal channels may get short-circuited in the process of expediting matters, leave some important people in dark, or messages transmitted may be incomplete, rendering communication ineffective.
When an organization grows, its structure expands, creating many communication problems. Messages have to pass through several hierarchical levels. It follows that something may be lost or added by transmission at each stage of the process. Messages are likely to be delayed and distorted.
Open and free flow of communication is also affected by status relationship in the organisation. Superiors are reluctant to discuss important problems with subordinates because this may expose them completely. Subordinates, in turn, avoid situations which require them to reveal information that might present them in an unfavourable light.
Specialisation is another barrier. Too much fragmentation of work causes people to be more loyal to their particular departments than to their organisation as a whole. It tends to separate people even when they work in close proximity. Different functions, special interests, and job jargon can make people feel that they live in different worlds. The result can prevent employees from having feelings of a united family, make understanding very difficult, and lead to errors.
Answer 3. Barriers to Communication:
Barriers to communication are obstacles in the communication process. These are factors, which adversely influence the communication network. Communication barriers make communication ineffective either in the form of delay, distortion and filtering or in the form of loss of information. Successful and effective communication thus requires identifying and removing these barriers.
Possible barriers to communication are described as follows:
1. Semantic Barriers:
Semantic barriers refer to misinterpretation of language or words used during communication. These barriers usually occur during the process of receiving (or encoding) and understanding (or decoding) the message. Many words across languages have different meanings and interpretations for different people in different situations. Sometimes issuers/receptors may lack relevant knowledge about the topic in question leading to miscommunication.
Semantic barriers can be further categorised as follows:
(a) Badly expressed messages – This is a result of lack of knowledge on relevant usage of language and words. The barrier is created as a result of wrong choice of words, wrong sequence of sentences, long and confusing sentences and frequent repetitions.
(b) Symbols and words – A symbol or word may have different meanings. If the issuer/ receptor misunderstand it then the communication becomes meaningless. For example, the word ‘outsourcing’ is wrongly interpreted by Americans as exporting jobs. By definition, outsourcing means obtaining any product/service externally (different a firm in domestic /foreign market).
(c) Faulty translation – All employees in an organisation do not necessarily speak the organisation’s medium of working especially in India. Information received from superiors/subordinates is often translated and communicated in a local language to employees. Any carelessness in literal translation becomes a barrier to communication.
(d) Unclarified assumptions – Sometimes an issuer communicates some messages to a receptor on an assumption that the receptor is aware of basic tasks and procedures. This assumption may be right for activities which are conducted regularly. However, messages for special tasks that has never been adopted or tried need to be clear and specific without any underlying assumptions about what the receptor knows. Such unclarified assumptions can become a barrier to communication.
(e) Technical jargons – Organisations consist of employees representing different capabilities and intelligence. Employees in a technical business unit usually delve deeply into their technical knowledge that makes them inept to communicate their knowledge in layperson terms. They express technical jargons which are not easily understood by individuals who are unaware of that field, which become a barrier.
(f) Body language and gesture coding – Communication conveyed through body gestures, body language and facial expressions could be misunderstood. For example- the side-to-side tilting of the head in arcs along the neck is a non-verbal communication which can mean ‘yes’, ‘ok’, ‘I understand’ and ‘no’. This gesture is known as the “Head bobble” or “Indian head shake”.
2. Psychological or Emotional Barriers:
The importance of communication also depends upon the mental state of the issuer/receptor.
Following are some emotional barriers to communication:
(a) Premature evaluation – Sometimes the receptor of information jumps to conclusion without reasoning or rationalising the message. This type of evaluation can be wrong and the issuer’s enthusiasm could be dampened.
(b) Lack of attention – When the receptor is preoccupied with some other work or is in his/her thoughts, he/she does not listen to the message attentively leading to barriers to communicate easily.
(c) Loss by transmission and poor retention – When a message is conveyed to the receptor through another person, then it may either lose truth or it is delayed. This is known as loss by transmission and mostly occurs in cases of verbal communication. Poor retention of information means that every next transfer of message leads to the message losing credibility.
(d) Distrust – Due to lack of trust between the issuer and receptor, the receptor could tend to misinterpret and derive an opposite meaning of any message communicated.
3. Organisational Barriers:
Barriers associated with the structure of an organisation are organisational barriers. Organisational structure attempts to prescribe rules, policies and procedures to guide and regulate activities. The structure that fails to set these rules, policies and procedures create opportunities for barriers of communication to exist.
Some of these barriers include:
(a) Organisational policies attempt to determine the relationship among all persons working in an organisation. If these policies are not clearly identified and communicated, then operations may not run smoothly;
(b) Also, organisational rules and procedures which are definite in nature and restrict mobility among managers / subordinates could also deter communication;
(c) Status of employees created in a hierarchical framework can act as a barrier to communicate. An employee at a lower rank may feel fearful to convey a message to an employee at a superior level, and may not express himself clearly and in a timely manner;
(d) Complexity in organisational structure can also cause barriers to communicate because of large number of managerial levels in the organisation. This may lead to delay in information also possibly leading to loss of transmission;
(e) Organisational facilities mean providing basic infrastructure and tools required for working. These facilities include sufficient stationery, telephone, desktops/laptops, printers, etc. Unavailability of such facilities can limit communication and possibly create delays in work.
4. Personal Barriers:
Barriers which are directly and personally linked with the issuer/receptor and the associated messages are called personal barriers. Personal barriers can be related to superiors and subordinates.
With regards to barriers related to superiors the possible barriers are:
(a) Fear of challenge to authority means that officers/executives may fear from expressing their ideas or opinions freely as they assume that their ideas may be rejected or ridiculed. They fear that they may be demoted or demotivated to express new ideas because of their inconfidence or insecurities;
(b) Lack of confidence in subordinates implies that superiors doubt the capabilities of employees and ignore their information, views and suggestions.
Barriers related to subordinates include:
(a) Unwillingness to communicate with subordinates means that subordinates do not wish to convey any information to the superiors in case the information is negative and will adversely affect them;
(b) Lack of proper incentive means that subordinates feel demotivated or fear of losing their jobs when provided no proper incentives like bonuses or rewards.
Communication plays a critical role to communicate messages leading to organisational goals. But barriers to communication can hinder and discourage superiors/subordinates to work towards these organisational goals. There are certain remedial measures organisations could consider to overcome barriers to communication.
These are explained below:
1. Communicate according to the Needs of the Receiver:
Communication should be in accordance to the policies and objectives set by the organisation in order to maintain consistency in information. Communication should be able to introduce all the employees in the enterprise with its objectives and integrate to move towards the organisational goals. There are many problems that cannot be solved through formal means of communication but can be communicated informally. Informal communication can also be given importance and credibility for communicating the needs of the receiver.
2. Clarify the Ideas before Communication:
The issuer should be clear in mind regarding the message he/she wishes to convey. This implies that the issuer should inform oneself prior to conveying the message to the receptor. The information relayed by the issuer should be complete and sufficient in every manner. Information more or less than the need can be harmful, thereby making it important for information to be balanced.
Sufficient information is related to the capability of the receptor. The more the capability less words of information will be given and vice versa. Issuers generally aim at communicating complete information irrespective of the receptor’s capability and reconfirm with them in case the receptor feels unconfident about the information.
3. Be Aware of Language, Tone and Content of the Message:
Communication needs to be simple and should not involve technical jargons. Superior/subordinates can attempt to explain those jargons in terms of their end-usage or benefits making them easy to understand. The message should be expressed clearly and precisely without being vague or ambiguous. The issuer should clarify the ideas around the message prior to issuing them.
4. Communicate for Present as well for the Future:
The issuer should invite suggestions from all involved in the concerned project or operations for determining the appropriate means to communicate with each other. These suggestions will examine when, how and through which medium the communication can be done across different levels. The organisation should develop a flexible communication system which is able to absorb the changes in an organisation and can be easily communicated across all levels in the present and in the future.
5. Ensure Proper Feedback:
The issuer should always seek a feedback from the receptor to ensure that the receptor has understood the message. Feedback can be sought through any means of communication (verbally or written through phones or email).
6. Be a Good Listener:
This means that the receptor should be attentive when a message is conveyed and the issuer reconfirms from the receptor whether the message was easily understood to ensure that the receptor is attentive and is a good listener.
Answer 4. List of Communication Barriers:
The communication is an important instrument in the hands of management. An effective communication system improves the relationship between workers and management, establishes peaceful industrial relations and improves the morale of employees and their productivity. But sometimes communication does not give the desired results because of many obstacles or barriers in the process of communication which contribute to its failure.
The following types of barriers are commonly found to create problems in organization:
Barriers to Communication # 1. Organizational Barriers:
The classical organization structure with a scalar chain of command restricts free and frequent communications. Too many levels intervene causing delay in transmission and distortion in the message. When the message has to pass through several hands, there is filtering. Successive transmissions of the same message are decreasingly accurate. Formal and structured organization pattern also develops informal communications. It reduces chances of cross checking.
Each manager receives information only from one source and transmits messages to another single level. The more complex the organization, the more difficult it becomes to ensure that correct information is passed on to the right person at the right time to the right media.
Barriers to Communication # 2. Status Barrier:
Every organization has some kind of status system. Some individuals have higher status than others. Persons of lower status do not feel free to talk to superiors. They pass on only what superiors would like to hear and hold back unpleasant facts. When a sub-ordinate does not have trust in his superior communication becomes less effective.
Barriers to Communication # 3. Semantic Barrier:
Words and symbols used to communicate facts and feelings may mean different things to different persons. For example, profits may mean one thing to a manager and quite another to a worker. People interpret the same message in different ways depending upon their social and cultural backgrounds, education and experience. The language of the sender may be very technical or incomprehensible to the receiver.
Barriers to Communication # 4. Inattention Barrier:
When the receiver does not pay complete attention to the message, communication becomes ineffective. A person may be inattentive when he considers the message as superficial or uninteresting. He may be pre-occupied with other more important matters or the message may be contrary to his expectations.
Barriers to Communication # 5. Physical Distance as a Barrier:
In large organizations, the physical distance between the sender and the receiver of any message may become an obstacle to effective communication. This is because it is difficult to evaluate whether the receiver has understood, accepted and acted on the message sent to him if his workplace is far away from that of the sender.
Barriers to Communication # 6. Premature Evaluation:
Communication is hampered when the receiver evaluates the message before getting the complete information. In such a case he does not have an open mind. He may irrespective to new ideas, resist change. He jumps to conclusions without a logical deduction from the objective situation.
Answer 5. Barriers to Effective Communication:
When a message is sent by the sender to the receiver, it may be possible that it may not be effectively understood by the receiver in the same sense as the sender intended it to. There are several reasons for its ineffectiveness.
The message may not reach the receiver at all or some problems may arise in its encoding and decoding or communication channel may be wrong or defective and there may be noise in the channel or there may be several personal reasons.
The barriers to communication in an organisation are as follows:
(1) Physical barriers.
(2) Socio-Psychological or Personal barriers.
(3) Organisational barriers.
(4) Semantic barriers.
(5) Mechanical barriers.
(6) Miscellaneous barriers.
Barriers to Communication # 1. Physical Barriers:
This is environmental factor which obstructs or reduces the sending and receiving of communication. This includes physical, distracting noises and other interferences. Communication of message becomes difficult as the physical distance increase.
Barriers to Communication # 2. Personal or Socio-Psychological Barriers:
Personal barriers arise from motives, attitudes, judgement, emotions and social values of people which may create psychological distance. Similar to physical distance psychological distance prevents the communication or cause mis-interpretation.
Persons differ in their motives, attitudes or sentiments. A person may be unaware of his motives, attitudes or sentiments or there may be problems in encoding and decoding other’s sentiments, attitudes and motives and therefore inter personal perceptions or inter personal emotions may cause breakdown because each perceives the things in the light of his own experiences, prejudices and thinking. The interests of people differs and so their attitude. A problem may be important for one person but may carry no weight for another.
It has been seen that sometimes it so happens that the ideas, questions, attitudes, feelings etc., of other party present an obstacle to his own personal goal. In the absence of adequate self-confidence or for fear of retaliation one restrains the expression of his true wants and needs. When we think of a person to be fool, any message from him is looked upon only in that spirit.
Division of people into classes, castes and communities also affects communication of ideas and viewpoints. In an organisation dominated by people of certain castes or communities, these belonging to minority group may have less opportunities of being heard. Viewpoints may differ and so organisation and communication suffers. Productivity for example may be looked from profit point of view by managers and from wages point of view by workers and trade unions.
An executive may be harsh enough not to hear and accept others view point whether right or wrong. Thus, acceptability and creditability of messages are subject to several mental and social barriers.
Barriers to Communication # 3. Organisational Barriers:
Hierarchical structure promotes downward communication. Since there are several layerism on this structure, the chances of information being filtered are there. An information received from top may not reach the bottom in the same shape or reverse may happen. The manager in between these two ends act as communication filters and communication prisms.
They may colour the information. Generally, the possibility of filtering the information is there when he decides to pass on only a part of the information received from the below or above and in this way he may deprive people at the bottom of the wishes of the executives at the top and similarly may keep the top executive in dark from the happenings at the lowest level.
Sometimes, the manager diverts the information meant for one person or group to another. For example a message meant for personnel manager, is sent direct to personnel officer on account of which personnel manager is put to an awkward situation. Thus, manager may reflect or deflect a message.
Further, the manager may also colour the information. Sometimes, intentionally with a view to twist the situation in his favour or sometimes it is out of situation. It is also possible that an officer may quote his sub-ordinate wrongly or may tell something against him before his boss just to spoil the carrier of the sub-ordinate or his chance of promotion or his image in the eyes of the boss.
Next, status is also a barrier of communication in a formal organisation. An executive in the middle of management hierarchy may worry so much about what his senior bosses are thinking and pay minimum attention to the thoughts of his juniors or sub-ordinates.
The sub-ordinates are reluctant to communicate anything which their boss does not like or may have ‘Negative effect’ on their relationship. Dislike, distrust, dissatisfaction with job and work environment are other reasons for reluctance to tell anything to their bosses.
H. Kelly discovered a few interesting effects of status upon communication as follows:
(a) Low status and high status members- Low status members communicate more task irrelevant information than high status members.
(b) High status persons appear to be restrained from communicating criticism, negative attitudes or confusion about their own job to those of lower status.
(c) Communication with high status persons- Tend to serve as a substitute for upward locomotion on the part of low status persons who have little or no possibility of real upward locomotion.
Organisational interaction and communication are thus influenced by the status and the role expectations. The status barriers may be overcome by creating an environment of trust and confidence in the organisation.
(d) Poor supervision- Also serves as a communication barrier. When a supervisor suspects his sub-ordinates or acts as a self-appointed censor or listens his subordinates with closed minds, the communication is blocked.
Barriers to Communication # 4. Semantic Barriers:
Semantic refers to the relationship of signs to their reference. It arises from the limitations of the symbolic system. Symbols may have a number of meaning and we have to select or choose any of them according to the extent of the text of the communication. For this purpose a distinction is essential between inferences and facts.
These are an essential part of most communication. We cannot avoid them. Since inferences can give a wrong signal and we should, therefore, be aware of them and appraise them carefully. In case of any doubt more feedback should be sought.
May reach a person’s brain through any of the senses such as feeling or hearing.
Symbols may be classified as:
(d) Body Language.
Words are the principal communication instrument of all employees in verbal as well as in non-verbal communication. Most of the time of managers and other executives are spent in verbal communication. A study of research managers showed that first level supervisors spent 74% of their time in communication. Second level superior spent 81% and the third level supervisor 87%.
Difficulty with Language:
A major difficulty with language is that nearly every common word has several meanings and unless the context is known to the receiver, he is free to accept any one of them as he chooses.
In a face communication (i.e., verbal) a clarification may be sought if doubts exist about a particular word but it is very difficult in non-verbal communication. Consequently, effective communication is idea-centred, rather than word centred, because communications know that words do not mean people mean. Without context, language is just like a smog that irritates our senses and interferes with our perception.
A second type of symbol is pictures. Pictures are visual aids worth thousand words. An organisation uses extensive use of pictures like blueprints, charts, maps, films, three dimensional models and similar devices. A viewer may come to know the whole story when he sees them.
Sometimes, a picture may create confusion in the mind of an observer and this can be done away if pictures are supplemented with well-chosen words and actions to tell the whole story.
(c) Action or Non-Verbal Communication:
An action is an effective means of communication to the extent it is interpreted by others. To do or not to do both have meaning. For example if a sub-ordinate wishes ‘good morning’ to his boss, a smile or the absence of it, wishing or not wishing in return, both have meaning. In this sense, we do communicate all the time at work whether we intend to do or not.
Further, Action Speaks Lower than Words If a person says one thing and does another, he will find in the long run that people listen to what he does. This is credibility gap. The more the gap the less seriously, the people will take him and he will lose confidence among his sub-ordinates.
(d) Body Language:
Body language is an important part of land supplement to nonverbal communication. People communicate meanings to others with their bodies in interpersonal interaction. Body language means communicating the message with the movement of the whole body or a part of it. Mostly face and the hands are useful symbols generally used in body language. Examples are eye contact; eye-movement, smiles and frowns, touching, furrowed brow, closeness hip movements, breathing rate and odour.
Barriers to Communication # 5. Mechanical Barriers:
Mechanical barriers include:
(1) Inadequate arrangement for transmission of news facts and figures;
(2) Poor office layout;
(3) Defective procedures and practices; and
(4) The use of wrong media leads to poor communication.
The above are some of the barriers in effective communication of messages. They all vitiate the message in several ways. It may result in message –
(b) Filtering, and
(a) Distortion- This means changing the context of the message or the meaning of the message; whereas
(b) Filtering means reducing the message only to a few basic details; and
(c) Omission- It represents deletion of all or part of the message.
We must be careful about these barriers in communicating the message.
Answer 6. Barriers and Gateways to Communication:
Communication is an exchange of facts, ideas opinions or emotions by two or more persons. A receiver must understand the message sender tries to get across. The chief aim of communication it to influence others by conveying meanings that will be understood and accepted by the receiver.
In the process of interpersonal communication, we come across a number of obstacles, pitfalls or barriers in the transmission of meaning or messages between two or more people.
These are usually noted in a faulty system of communication:
Barriers to Communication # (1) Lack of Sound Objectives:
If objectives are vague, imprecise or if they omit essential information, we will have failure in the company-wide communication programme.
(2) Faulty Organisation:
When authority-responsibility relationship is not clearly defined when the chain of command is too long, when the span of control is too wide, when delegation is poor and defective, when too much emphasis is given to stick rigidly to the formal channel of communication, we have poor communication system in the organisation.
Barriers to Communication # (3) The Tendency to Evaluate or Judge:
The major barrier to mutual interpersonal communication is our natural tendency to judge, to evaluate, to approve (or disapprove) the statement of the other person or the other group. This tendency to be evaluative is very common in those situations where feelings or emotions are deeply involved. When our feelings and emotions are stronger, there will be two ideas, two feelings, two judgements, missing each other in psychological space.
Each person would make a judgement, an evaluation, from his own frame of reference. For instance, when you have listened to a heated discussion, you often go away thinking, “Well, they actually were not talking about the same thing”. And they were not. In fact, there was no communication at all. This tendency to react emotionally to any meaningful statement by the forming an evaluation of it from own point of view is, we repeat, the major barrier of interpersonal communication.
Barriers to Communication # (4) Too Many Assumptions:
A receiver may make too many assumptions and may be too quick in evaluating the meaning because he may be a poor listener.
Barriers to Communication # (5) Use of Technical Language:
In the specialist fields, e.g., computers, operations research, psychology, systems analysis, advance management science, advance economics, etc., we have the technical jargon or vocabulary. This creates a severe obstacle in communication.
Barriers to Communication # (6) Receiver’s Background:
The different educational and social backgrounds of receivers or audience cannot help in creating effective understanding or flow of communication.
Barriers to Communication # (7) The Atmosphere:
The environment or atmosphere may not be normal and in that case ever innocent remarks may be given wrong interpretations.
Barriers to Communication # (8) Status:
When a message passes up or down a channel of command, we may have protective screening between a subordinate and superior. A subordinate tells his boss what the boss likes to hear and he will omit unpleasant information. He may even cover up his own weaknesses. . Thus his report will be distorted. Each superior may withhold part of the information that he feels his subordinates need not know and he may put his own interpretation.
Barriers to Communication # (9) Oral Communication:
When an order or an instruction is not written down, people may take undue advantage and do nothing.
Barriers to Communication # (10) Sensitivity of Emotions:
Feelings and emotions may supersede logical and rational behaviour. In communicating upward, subordinates find it very difficult to communicate their feelings in words. But they can communicate their feelings and emotions by actions. It is true that actions speak louder than words. People do many things which may not correspond at all with what they say. If behaviour and words disagree, the behaviour is a more reliable guide than the words.
Answer 7. Barriers of Communication:
When someone says, ‘this is a communication problem,’ what does that mean? There can be no precise answer to this question. It may so happen that the sender is unable to properly convey the message, or it may be wrongly received, or that the communication passed through so many persons that it got distorted, or some other reason. The important point is that – a manager must understand the source of the communication problem, so that it can be appropriately dealt with.
The principal barriers to effective communication are- noise, poor feedback, a wrong mental attitude, insufficient or lack of attention to work selection, delay in message transmittal, physical separation of the sender and receiver, and lack of empathy or a good relationship between the sender and receiver.
Let’s examine each of these barriers and possible steps to overcome them. As we conduct this examination, we should remember that any two or more of these barriers may occur in combination.
A. Barriers on the Part of Sender:
Barriers to Communication # 1. Faulty Planning:
The pre-requisite of effective communication is accurate planning. The message should be properly planned and then delivered. The contents of the message should be drawn after considering all the aspects. Which channel links are to be adopted needs to be planned out in advance. A poorly designed message loses all its worth.
Barriers to Communication # 2. Vague Presumptions:
At times the person giving the message leaves gaps in the message presuming that the receiver of the message will understand what he actually wants to convey. But it is not necessary that the receiver shall also interpret the message in the same manner as the sender presumes. This may lead to confusion and chaos.
For example- a senior officer gives a call to the junior stating that on certain days he would be out of town assuming that the junior shall make necessary staying arrangements for him. The junior receives this message assuming that senior manager is simply informing him of his absence and that all staying arrangements were already taken care of by the senior himself.
Barriers to Communication # 3. Semantics:
Semantics is the science that deals with the meaning of words. Words seldom mean the same thing to two persons. Symbols or words usually have a variety of meanings. The sender and the receiver have to choose one meaning from among many. If both of them choose the same meaning, the communication will be perfect. But this is not so always because of differences in formal education and specific situations of the people.
Strictly one cannot convey meaning, all one can do is to convey words, and the same words may suggest quite different meanings to different people, e.g., Profits may mean to management efficiency and growth, whereas to employees, it may suggest excess funds piled up through paying inadequate wages and benefits.
Since the meaning conveyed by the sender’s words depends upon the experience and attitude of the receiver, one way to penetrate the word barrier is for the sender to strive to speak or write in terms of the receiver’s experience and attitude.
Barriers to Communication # 4. Poorly Expressed Contents:
The sender of the message may be clear about the thoughts in his mind hut poorly chosen words or omission of important links, leads to misunderstandings in the group.
Barriers to Communication # 5. Emphasizing the Wrong Part of the Message:
May be you can think of an advertising campaign which has been so successful with some new style or gimmick that everyone is talking about it. However, no one has actually noticed what product is being advertised.
Barriers to Communication # 6. Inconsistent Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication:
We think of language as the primary medium of communication, but the non-verbal messages we give, enhance the meaning conveyed by the words. Any inconsistency in the verbal and non-verbal message distorts communication. For example- a boss replying ‘good morning’ greeting of a subordinate using harsh tone (may be because of some personal preoccupation) sends a wrong signal to the subordinate.
Barriers to Communication # 7. Emotional Factor:
Emotions like prejudice, fear, aggression and threat distorts the communication. For example- an employee may twist the facts before his boss out of fear of being scolded by him.
Barriers to Communication # 8. Status Effect:
This occurs when one person is considerably higher in the hierarchy than another. The person at the top gives the message. People at the bottom take it literally and follow it as an order or diktat. The top people may not have intended to pass it on literally. This leads to confusion.
Barriers to Communication # 9. Filtering:
Filtering is the deliberate manipulation of information to make it appear more favourable to the receiver. For example- when a manager tells his boss what the boss wants to hear, the manager is filtering information. The organization culture encourages or discourages filtering by the type of behaviour it emphasizes through rewards.
The major factor contributing to filtering is the number of levels in an organization structure. The more vertical levels in the organization hierarchy, the more opportunities there are for filtering.
B. Barriers on the Part of Receiver:
Barriers to Communication # 1. Distraction:
You are physically very attracted to the person who is talking to you. As a result, your attention is directed to his deep blue eyes rather than what he is saying. There is no physical noise that prevents the message from reaching you.
You hear it, but you don’t decode it. Or think of when you watched the TV news, the reporter was standing outside No. 10 Janpath, but behind him the policeman outside the door was picking his nose. As soon as the reports over you realize you haven’t a clue what it was about.
Barriers to Communication # 2. Poor Listening and Instant Interpretations:
Listening requires patience. It demands full attention and self-discipline. It requires the listener to avoid making premature judgment of what another person has to say. Usually, people have a tendency to judge what is said, whether they agree to it or not. Besides, when the message is long, after a while people start losing interest and hence stop listening. Due to this tendency, the message transmission gets hindered. Hence, listening with empathy should be practiced in the organization to ensure effective communication.
Barriers to Communication # 3. Emotional Constraints:
How the receiver feels at the time of receipt of a communication message will influence how he interprets it. The same message received when you are angry or distraught is likely to be interpreted differently in comparison to when you are in neutral disposition.
Barriers to Communication # 4. Closed Mind:
Some individuals have closed mind towards receiving new information. The closed minded person says in essence – “My mind is made up. Don’t bother me with the facts. I want what I want.” Sometimes this type of person even before reading or hearing the documented facts unjustly labels them as distorted.
Barriers to Communication # 5. Filtering:
Our personal interests act as a filter through which communications are received. We listen to what we want to hear, shutting out what we don’t want to hear. Our personal desires can very easily color or exaggerate the meaning of what we hear or read.
Barriers to Communication # 6. Distrust:
When a receiver of the message views the sender with distrust, he doubts the credibility of the message, irrespective of its contents. Thus the message is never well taken.
Barriers to Communication # 1. Insufficient Time Period:
Whenever communication is made, sufficient time period to understand and digest the message needs to be given. Moreover, communication may bring in changes. These changes affect different people in different manner. Besides, to realize the impact/implication of the message is time consuming. However, managers are usually hard-pressed for time. This leads to disruption in the communication channels.
Barriers to Communication # 2. Loss During Transmission and Poor Retention:
When the message gets transmitted from one person to the other, it becomes less accurate. Different individuals tend to add their perception to it. Besides, the message may not be retained thoroughly in the memory. Hence it is advisable to repeat the message with follow-up and also use more than one channel to communicate the same message again.
Barriers to Communication # 3. Barriers due to Organization Structure:
The organization structure has an important influence on the ability of the members of the organization to communicate effectively. These days the organization structure of most big enterprises is complex involving several layers of supervision and long communication lines. Organization structure creates problems because communication may breakdown at any level of supervision due to faulty transmission.
Barriers to Communication # 4. Cultural Barriers:
The culture shapes behaviour and understanding of a person. It can be defined as a set of values, beliefs, norms, customs, rules, and codes with which a person can identify himself. Culture differs in nations, even within a nation, you may find different regional cultures (the best example being India), the difference in age (like a 20 year old and a 70 year old) may also be the cause of difference in culture.
Communication is largely affected by differing cultures of the communicators because the same language and symbols may have different meaning for them. For example- in Chinese language the words “Coca-cola” means “bite the head of a dead tadpole”. Similarly colors and body language can convey quite a different message in one culture than in other. For example- in Japan exchanging business cards is an important ritual.
People especially give and receive cards with care rather than taking it one handedly and stuffing it in your pocket. One U.S. businessperson lost a deal in Japan because of his inattention to the Japanese businessmen’s cards was taken as a measure of the lack of attention he would give to their business.
Answer 8. Barriers to Communication:
There are certain factors that impede the proper flow of communication. All those factors that adversely affect the effectiveness of communication may be called barriers to communication.
The barriers to communication may be classified into:
External Barriers are usually in the following forms:
(i) Semantic Barriers:
These baiters arise at the stage of encoding or decoding in the process of communication. These barriers are often due to linguistic capacity of the sender and receiver.
Badly Expressed Message:
If the message is not expressed clearly and precisely and when the right word is not used at the right place, it may not convey the proper meaning that the person has in mind.
(ii) Faulty Translations:
Managers are often required to translate the messages into a form suitable to their superiors or subordinates. Unless one has good linguistic capacity, he cannot do this job well.
(iii) Specialist Language:
Technical personnel and other experts usually fall into the habit of using their own technical jargon which others outside their group fail to understand. This hinders the communication to a large extent.
The emotional or psychological state of a person also influences the communication.
The following are some emotional or psychological barriers:
(i) Premature evaluation- People often jump to conclusion even before the message is completely communicated. This discourages the sender and may even give him a feeling of futility.
(ii) Existence of preconceived notions.
(iii) Inattention due to lack of interest.
(iv) Distrust in communication- If the receiver does not trust that sender for any reason, he does not pay the required attention to the message and he does not believe in the message received.
(v) Fears- (a) Fear of misinterpretation of message by the receiver. (b) Fear of distortion: sometimes the message of the sender is filtered when it reaches the receiver. This is also known as loss by transmission, (c) Fear of exposing oneself to criticism, (d) Information is held back deliberately by the sender with the feeling that some action will be taken against him if he expresses his opinion frankly. This is known as fear of reprisal.
(vi) Poor retention by the receiver because of his inability.
(vii) Defensive behaviour- Employees have a tendency to become defensive when they feel they are being threatened. In such circumstances, they tend to stop listening to the sender’s message.
Organisational policies, rules and regulations, status relationships also affect the effectiveness of communication. For example, a frank feedback cannot be expected from the subordinate because of the existing superior-subordinate relation.
Personal barriers can again be classified into two types:
(i) Barriers in superiors and
(ii) Barriers in subordinates.
(i) Barriers in Superiors (Barriers from Superiors):
(a) Attitude of Superiors- If the superior has an unfavourable attitude to the subordinate’s act of giving message; adequate information cannot flow from the subordinate to the superior.
(b) Lack of Confidence in Subordinates- The information from the subordinate does not interest the superior when he lacks confidence in him.
(c) Lack of Awareness of Importance of Communication- The manager does not understand the communication with the subordinate if he doesn’t know the importance of it.
(d) Insistence on Proper Channel- Superiors always insists on the subordinates giving the information through proper channel and this definitely discourages him to furnish the factual information.
(ii) Barriers in Subordinates (Barriers from Subordinates):
(a) Unwillingness to Communicate- Subordinates are often reluctant to provide information for the fear that a piece of information may have adverse effect on the attitudes of the superiors.
Even if they provide information, they modify it in such a manner to protect their own interest.
(b) Lack of Proper Incentive- If a novel suggestion made by a subordinate does not evoke any attention of the management, this experience will keep him away from conveying anything in future.
Despite these barriers, some managers communicate effectively? Hence, we shall study the measures of effective communication.
The analysis of the communication process involves the following four elements- Communication can be made effective through the effective use of these elements.
(i) The content- It calls for clear thinking about objective (must be definite), message (frank and sensible), wording (accurate, clear, convincing and untwistable) and presentation (planned, appropriate and effective).
(ii) The system must be clearly defined and recognised.
(iii) The technique- It involves selection of the most appropriate technique. The techniques are oral, written, graphic and psychological.
(iv) The media- The media of communication are personal contacts, meetings, conferences, telephone talks, letters, reports, minutes, notices, handbooks, periodicals, schedules, balance sheets, organisational charts, attitude, gestures, expression, inflexion, etc.
A proper regard for content, system, technique and medium will help to communicate effectively. But there is no substitute for real basic elements of good communication, viz. honesty, sincerity, clear thought and simplicity.
Further, clear thinking is necessary primarily to all successful communication and decision-making. The mental process involved in clear thinking covers- (a) Collection of all relevant information; (b) Sorting out facts from opinions and inferences; (c) Checking the facts, opinions and inferences and (d) Evaluating the information and drawing conclusions from it.
The American Management Association (AMA) suggested Ten Commandments for effective communication.
(i) Clarify ideas before attempting to communicate;
(ii) Examine the process of communication;
(iii) Understand the physical and human environment when communicating;
(iv) In planning communication, consult with others to obtain their support as well as the facts;
(v) Consider the content and the overtones of the message;
(vi) Whenever possible, communicate something that helps or is valued by the receiver;
(vii) Communication to be effective requires follow-up;
(viii) Communicate messages that are of short-run and long-run importance;
(ix) Actions must be congruent with communication; and
(x) Be a good listener.
Answer 9. List of Communication Barriers
There are certain factors that become problems in the communication process. In spite of our best efforts to avoid them they arise. They lead to miscommunication or mal-communication. Because of them the intended message is not conveyed easily. They become a sort of stumbling blocks.
That is why they are called ‘barriers’. All of us, including the management of the organization, have to be careful about them. Here we are going to discuss some major barriers to communication.
Barriers to Communication # 1. Physical Barriers – Noise, Time and Distance:
The first major communication barrier is noise. There may be some disturbance in the telephone line or the loudspeaker system. The fan over our head may start making a creaking sound or the loud noise of machines in a factory may make communication difficult. Very often the TV cable may be disrupted because of unfavourable weather.
Time and distance also act as barriers to the smooth flow of communication. In a big hall the distance between the speaker and the listeners may become a barrier. Even though modern telecommunication systems are very advanced, often long distance calls become difficult.
Barriers to Communication # 2. Language/Linguistic/Semantic Barriers:
Very often the meaning of words in the mind of the sender or in that of the recipient may cause problems. There may be many different interpretations of words. There are two kinds of meaning – Denotative and Connotative. Denotative meaning is the immediate, nearest or referential meaning. It is very easily understood.
But the connotative meaning has very wide possibilities. There are many ambiguous words or words with double meaning. Moreover, some speakers or writers use j argon or unnecessarily technical words. Problems arising from them are called semantic barriers.
Barriers to Communication # 3. Socio-Psychological Barriers:
Very often people’s standing in society, economic status or state of mind may cause problems. It is a common observation that there is hardly any communication between very rich people and very poor people. One’s family background also interferes with his communication skills unless he has had adequate education and training. Such problems are socio-psychological barriers.
Barriers to Communication # 4. Organizational/Hierarchical Barriers:
It is a common observation that there is a problem of communication between the higher- ups and the subordinates. The lower level employees mostly have a hitch or hesitation in communicating with their bosses. However, the modern organizations are trying to solve this problem.
They are trying to give them a feeling of partnership in the organization. So they are now opening out. Moreover their leaders are very vocal and are acquiring immense bargaining powers.
Barriers to Communication # 5. Emotional Barriers:
Communication becomes a problem when one is very angry or overjoyed. Stress also builds up negative feelings and stands in the way of communication. Encoding and decoding are easiest when one is calm and composed.
Barriers to Communication # 6. Cultural Barriers:
People belonging to different cultures have different styles of verbal and non-verbal communication. There is a marked difference between the greeting style of the people of the Far East and those of the West.
It is also observed in their styles of writing. That is why we are advised to closely observe the different cultures of the world. Otherwise it may lead to misunderstanding or misinterpretation.
Barriers to Communication # 7. Information Overload:
There is simply too much information flowing in the organizations in the modern world. Many people are in the habit of making unnecessary telephone calls or sending in messages. There is hardly any substantial addition to information in such cases. The result is that such messages or letters are ignored and there is no feedback.
Barriers to Communication # 8. Poor Planning:
Poor planning is another barrier to communication. If we have not planned in advance we fail to make a successful presentation or speech. Poor planning also spoils a letter or a report.
Barriers to Communication # 9. Wrong or Unclarified Assumptions:
Assumptions very often become major problems. Many of us unnecessarily assume that somebody is very temperamental or biased or not a dependable person. Assumptions like this may lead to serious misunderstanding or loss of goodwill.
Barriers to Communication # 10. Poor Listening:
If we are poor listeners we may not get the intended message and that becomes a major barrier to communication.
Barriers to Communication # 11. Selective Perception:
There is a big gap between perception and reality. In other words we can say that all of us don’t look at the same thing from the same point of view. It has been observed that recipients selectively see and hear depending upon their needs, background, experience and other personal characteristics. This leads very often to problems in communication.
Barriers to Communication # 12. Goal-Conflicts:
There is perhaps always a conflict of goals between the employers and the employees. This conflict affects their communication because they are working towards the fulfilment of their narrow interests.