Effective Communication is crucial for success in the workplace. Communication is key for team collaboration and cooperation. Individuals, teams, and organizations get better results when there is good workplace communication.
Communication can be verbal, non-verbal, or written. Verbal communication is through speaking, for example, face-to-face conversation, telephone call, or voicemail. Non-verbal communication includes the use of facial expressions, hand gestures, and eye contact. Written communication includes written words, for example, e-mails, letters, or reports.
Characteristics of effective communication are timeliness, accuracy, and completeness. Communication is accurate when it is free of errors and is in sync with work values and expectations. Communication is complete when all the required information has been communicated to the receiver. Timelines ensure information is available as and when required to make effective business decisions.
What are Communication Barriers?
Communication barriers can harm personal and professional life. Barrier’s impact effective communication by disrupting the quality of the message that reaches the recipient. The barrier to effective communication can result in confusion as the recipient may not appropriately perceive the message that is sent. Incorrect messages can lead to wrong decisions and loss of business.
Some Common Barriers to Effective Communication
The barriers to effective communication can be of many kinds and occur at different stages of the communication process. Let us look at some examples of these barriers:
Not giving the listener enough context
Context can be oral, written, or non-verbal. The context should be sufficient for the listener to understand what is being communicated. A lack of information can lead to a wrong interpretation of the message communicated.
Making assumptions about your audience
Perceived assumptions about the targeted audience distort the message. Before the communication process, knowledge should be obtained about the audience’s perception level. As everyone perceives the message differently, it is important to keep it simple.
Letting emotions overtake your message
Topics like terrorism, poverty, inequality, and politics let the sender’s emotions overtake the message. Anger, frustration, and humor can impact the way the message is communicated. The sender’s words might not accurately communicate what they are trying to convey.
Thinking that words are the only way to communicate
When nonverbal cues are absent or used incorrectly, the audience is misinformed about the message. Things like sitting and standing posture, use of hands, and facial expressions are equally important as verbal communication.
Not using the right tone for your audience
The tone of words should be appropriate for the audience. The message’s tone shouldn’t hurt the recipient’s feelings. Speaking too loudly can seem unpleasant, whereas speaking too softly might render the speaker inaudible to the listener.
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List of Communication Barriers
To overcome a barrier, it is first important to understand what the different barriers to communication are. Here are the most common communication barriers:
Physical barrier is the most common barrier which occurs due to the geographic distance between the sender and receiver(s). The best communication mode is face-to-face when both sender and receiver are in the same place. There are many more components to a face-to-face conversation than just words. Face-to-face components include gestures, body language, and facial emotions, among other things.
The physical barrier has only increased with social distancing and a hybrid working environment. Even though current technology has lowered the physical barrier, in-person communication still has its benefits.
Perception is how we analyze things around us to understand information. Every person sees things differently which leads to perception barriers. Causes of perception barriers are lack of motivation, inadequate management, aversion to change, or personality difficulties. The sender should study the audience and positively communicate the message. A wide range of interpretational sets shouldn’t be allowed in a message.
Emotional intelligence in a person determines the capability with which he/she communicates. A sender may not be comfortable expressing himself/herself on emotional topics which make the actual message received different from what was supposed to be received. Emotional IQ is increased if we have a deeper grasp of our own inner emotions and when we appreciate other people’s feelings.
Differences in languages and unfamiliar accents lead to linguistic barriers. People living in the same geographical area may also speak different languages due to different religions.
Even when using the same language, the sender’s phrases may operate as a barrier if they are technical for the recipient to comprehend. It is always recommended to use simple words and to avoid using jargon, abbreviations, and religious terms when communicating.
Culture barriers come with the use of words, expressions, and actions that have different meanings in a different culture. A word that might not be offensive in one culture could be considered slang in another. For example, US organization workspaces have a culture of referring to people by their first name and this may be considered disrespectful by a non-US workspace.
Information Overload Barriers
While it is important to transmit information completely, too much information can also lead to a barrier. When overloaded with information, we worry that we will not be able to remember everything. The chances of information overload are greater when the communication includes messages that are new to the receiver.
How to Overcome Barriers of Communication?
The first thing to keep in mind while dealing with a communication barrier is to maintain your composure. Anxiety can only make it harder to overcome a barrier. Let us dig deeper and go through other tips to overcome the barriers to effective communication.
Plan the Communication
Think about what you have to communicate. Identify the objective of communication. Without knowing the objective, the sender’s communication is going to be casual and will not get the receiver’s attention.
Keep the Message Consistent
The message should be per the purpose of communication. It is advisable to prepare a list of points on what you have to speak about and keep points in logical order.
Keep it short and simple – Avoid using words that can lead to multiple interpretations. Keep the message short and up to the point. Avoid unnecessary wordings that can create confusion for the receiver.
Focus on the Content of the Message
The content of the message should be relevant to the receiver. The receiver is going to lose interest if the message is not valuable to him/her. If the mode of communication is written, the message should be free from grammatical and spelling errors.
Effective listening is expected from both sender and receiver. Careful listening builds trust and makes the other person believe that their words are important. So whenever next time you are in a conversation, free your mind from all the distractions and listen carefully to obtain maximum input and benefit from the conversation.
Do not Interrupt the Speaker
Wait for your chance before your interrupt the speaker. It is considered unprofessional in a working environment to always interrupt others when they are speaking.
Make communication receiver specific
Before the communication starts, study the cultural, language, and perception beliefs of the other person. The entire structure of communication should be receiver friendly.
Select Appropriate Method of Communication
The method can be written or oral depending upon the context of communication. Non-verbal communication can only be used in the face-to-face method and not the written text method.
In the communication process, feedback assures the sender that the receiver has received and successfully interpreted the message. Feedback confirms that the receiver has properly understood the meaning of the message received. Without feedback, the communication process is not completed.
Parties in the communication process should seek suggestions to improve the process. To make communication effective, the sender and receiver should identify and regularly work on their weaknesses.
The importance of Communication in the workplace cannot be undermined. Essaying the art of communication is key to success at work. Whenever you face a difficult situation while communicating, we recommend you make the most of the above tips.