Improve Communication Skills

Identify and Understand Common Barriers to Effective Communication

The world is completely reliant on communication to perform even the most basic of all daily tasks. Without communication almost all daily functions would cease and the world as it is known today would grind to a halt. On any given day, one participates numerous times in the Communication Process.

Importance of Effective Communication Skills

The importance of effective communication skills becomes apparent when one looks at how much of one’s life is dependent upon communication. Think about it, every time one sends an email, updates a Facebook status, leaves a voicemail, writes a memo, makes a phone call, or rolls eyes in frustration, they are actively participating in the communication process.

And those are just a few examples of the many times and ways people communicate on a daily basis! At any stage during the communication process misunderstandings and conflict known as miscommunication can occur. With these things in mind, it is clear to see why effective communication free of misunderstandings is a necessary and valuable skill.

Barriers to Effective Communication

Miscommunication happens because of barriers that can arise at any stage during the communication process. A communication barrier is anything that gets in the way of the purpose of communication or causes people to misunderstand each other, information, or a message. Learning to recognize and identify various communication barriers is the first step toward minimizing misunderstandings and building effective communication habits.

Physical Barriers is any physical thing that hinders effective communication between one person/group and a second person/group. A physical barrier can be an actual physical structure or distance. Examples include walls, desks, cubicles, doors, yelling down a hallway, or being located in different buildings or rooms. Physical barriers are also anything that causes distractions or breaks concentration. Examples include background noise like radio or ringing phones, poor lighting, seating, or temperature that is too hot or cold.

Perceptual Barriers is any individual perception that causes intended message to be received incorrectly causing barrier to effective communication. No two people view the world exactly the same. Each person has different ideas, thoughts, behaviors, mentality, experiences, and backgrounds. When people communicate, they formulate words to transmit messages based on their own perceptions. The receiver can perceive and interpret actions and words very differently than the sender intends and vice versa. This makes effective communication very tricky!

Psychological Barriers are any emotions or personal feelings that cause misunderstandings that hinder effective communication. A person’s emotion at the time the message is communicated can impact how it is sent or received. Fear, mistrust, happy, sadness, anxiety, and anger are all strong emotions that can heavily influence communication if one lets it. If one does not trust a co-worker because of some deceit, one will hold back and not communicate what is truly thought.

Gender Barriers is any misunderstanding or confusion in intended message caused by male and female differences resulting in communication barriers. Each gender has distinct ways of communicating that often cause misunderstandings. Each gender’s communication style is based on the brain’s structure and how information is processed. Men are direct, logical, task-oriented, analytical, and assertive with a “report” type style of communicating. Women focus on bonding, feelings, are relationship-oriented, intuitive, and submissive with a “rapport” type communication style.

Language Barriers are any differences in language like slang, jargon, translations, dialects, or semantics that hinder effective communication. Companies, schools, clubs, and even some neighborhoods often have their own group specific lingo and assign unique meanings to many words. Miscommunication occurs when people from different areas or companies are communicating and assign different meanings to words or are unfamiliar with the terminology.

Cultural Barriers are any barrier to communication that occurs during the communication process attributed to differences in culture. Every country in the world has a unique history and culture. Growing numbers of people are communicating with people from other countries. Different linguistic and cultural backgrounds impact communication. Understanding other cultures will help lessen miscommunication. In America, splitting the bill on a date happens frequently and is not a big deal. However in other countries it is viewed as disrespectful.

Effective communication is when the receiver hears and understands the exact message the sender intends to transmit and feels the information at the end of exchange is clear. Effective communication can only take place when barriers to communication are eliminated during the communication process. By identifying the common barriers that impact communication, one can begin to understand the reasons for miscommunication and conflict. Recognizing communication barriers is the first step in overcoming them and improving communication skills.

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