Barriers to communication – Why communication may be unsuccessful

Barriers to communication

Barriers to communication

There are a variety of reasons inter-personal communication may be unsuccessful. In many instances, messages (what is being said) could not be received in the manner the sender intended. Therefore, it is essential that the communicator obtain feedback to confirm that the message is understood clearly.

Affective listening, clarification, and reflection could be helpful. However, the proficient communicator should also know the obstacles to effective communication and the best ways to overcome or avoid these obstacles. There are many obstacles to communication, and they can happen at any time during the process of communication.

Obstacles could lead to your message becoming blurred, and thus you could waste either time or money through confusion and confusion.

Effective communication is about getting past these obstacles and communicating the message clearly and concisely.

Common barriers to communication

Jargon is the use of words—complex, confusing, or technical terminology.

  • Taboos and barriers to emotional expression. Certain people might have difficulty expressing their emotions, and some subjects might be considered off-limits or considered taboo.
  • A lack of focus, divergence, interest or insignificant news for the listener. They can be viewed as obstacles to listening.
  • Perspectives and perceptions differ.
  • Physical impairments, such as speech problems or hearing difficulties.
  • Physical obstacles in non-verbal communication. Inability to recognize the non-verbal signals or gestures, postures, and body language generally could make communication less effective.
  • Language differentiators and the difficulty of comprehending accents from different cultures.
  • The resulting prejudices and expectations could result in incorrect assumptions or stereotyping. People tend to believe what they listen to rather than the actual content of what they hear and then jump to wrong conclusions.
  • Differential cultural philosophies – The standards of social interactions vary widely across different cultures, as does the manner the expression of emotions is done. For instance, the notion of personal space is different between cultures as well as between various social situations.

A proficient communicator should be aware of the barriers and attempt to lessen the impact of these barriers by continuously reviewing, understanding and giving relevant feedback.

A classification of barriers to communication

Language Barriers

Language and the ability to communicate can be a barrier to communication. Even when using the same language, the language employed in a message could create a barrier in the event that it is not comprehended by those who are the listener(s). For instance, an email that contains many jargons of specialized use and abbreviations may not be easily understood by someone who’s not conversant with the language employed.

Regional colloquialisms, expressions and dialects could be misinterpreted or perceived as offensive.

Psychological barriers to Communication

The state of mind of communicators can affect how the message is delivered or received, as well as how it is perceived. For instance, if a person is feeling stressed, they could be distracted by personal issues and are less receptive to the message than if they weren’t stressed.

Anger is another sign of a psychological blockage in communication. When we’re angry, it’s easy to speak in ways that we later regret and to miss the words of others. In general, people who have low self-esteem might be less assertive and consequently might not be comfortable speaking up. They might feel uncomfortable sharing their feelings or may interpret negative subtexts in the messages they receive.

Physiological Barriers

Physical barriers can result from the physical condition of the receiver. For instance, a person with hearing impairment may not comprehend the whole of a conversation, particularly in the presence of significant background noise.

Physical Barriers

One example of a physical obstacle to communication is the geographic separation between the sender(s) as well as the receiver(s). Communication is typically simpler over shorter distances since there are more communication channels available with less tech needed. While modern technology can be used to diminish physical obstacles, the benefits and disadvantages of each channel must be understood in order that the appropriate channel can be utilized to overcome physical obstacles.

 Systematic Barriers to Communication

Communication barriers that are systemic may exist in organizations and structures that have inadequate or ineffective communication systems or information systems or an insufficient knowledge regarding the roles, responsibilities and expectations associated with the communication. In these organizations, people might be unsure of their roles in the process of communicating and thus not be aware of what they are expected to do.

Attitudinal Barriers to Communication

Attitudinal barriers are the behaviours or attitudes that block people from effectively communicating. The barriers to communication arising from attitudinal beliefs could be the result of personal conflicts, poor management, and resistance to change or inability to motivate. Effective receivers of messages must try to overcome their own attitudes to enable efficient communication.

Ineffective listening

Communication can break down as a result of poor listening. This can be due to various reasons, including:

  • It is normal to think of a reply while the other person is talking. This is a sign that we’re not truly listening to all the words being spoken.
  • Even the most attentive listeners are at risk of scrutinizing the content of the speech before realizing the message speakers are trying to convey. As a result, preconceived notions are formed, and opinions have been drawn regarding the meaning of the speaker that could be incorrect.
  • There are times when you think about other issues, perhaps in a subconscious way, like “What will I serve for the meal?”, “Will I be able to finish this homework?” or “I hope I don’t have to be late picking the children up”. When we are in these situations, we can be distracted and don’t pay all-encompassing attention to what’s being spoken.

These and other forms of listening to that are not effective can cause miscommunication and breakdowns in communication.

The most common barriers to listening

There are many factors that get out of the way of listening. It is easy to fall into bad habits of listening. Obstacles to listening with effectiveness and poor listening habits are:

Trying to listen to multiple conversations at the same time

This can include turning on the television or radio while trying to listen to someone talk, or in contact with someone else and conversing with an individual in the space, and getting distracted by predominant noise within the immediate vicinity

You are focused on a particular part of their speech, apart from what they’re saying.

You may, for example, find them attractive/unattractive, and you are therefore concentrating on that. Maybe you don’t like the sound. You might think about arguing with them and quickly critique them, whether out loud or within your head. You may also be able to hear their voice as distracting, or perhaps if they speak with an accent that is regional and you are able to listen to it instead.

You’re uninterested in the issue or topic being debated, and you become bored.

It can be seen by not being focused and easily distracted, fiddling around with your fingers, hair or even a pen or looking out the window or looking at objects that are not related to the speaker.

Your physical demands could cause you to be distracted

For instance, you could feel unwell, feeling tired, hungry, thirsty, or may need to use the toilet.

 The user is either identifying or sympathizing, rather than empathizing.  

You are aware of what you are hearing, but you’re not in the position of your speaker. It is not an identical concept to empathy. You can sympathize when you are at a loss for the circumstances of someone else. To feel empathy is to put yourself in the shoes of the other person. Since the majority of us engage in an extensive internal dialogue that we use to spend a significant amount of time focusing on our own thoughts and feelings, which can make it difficult to shift the center of attention from “I” or ‘me’ to ‘they or the word ‘you’. Effective listening means being open to other people’s perspectives and trying to be empathetic.

You are predisposed or biased because of a particular reason.

You might be taught to think that the views of the speaker are incorrect, possibly due to something they say or your own personal thoughts or experiences or an earlier encounter. Effective listening means being open to the opinions and ideas of other people. It doesn’t mean that you must agree, but it is important to try to listen and try to understand

You make your own judgments, and this impacts your ability to listen.

If, for example, you determine that the speaker isn’t well-educated or able to speak, you might think there’s no reason to pay attention to the things their thoughts are. It is possible that you are correct in your judgment; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should conclude that a) they don’t have a valid argument for raising or that) that you shouldn’t be courteous to them by taking the time to listen.

You’re preoccupied with something else.

If we’re occupied with a lot to think about, we may not pay attention to what’s being said because we are too focused on the things we’re thinking about. This is especially relevant when we’re overwhelmed or anxious about issues. The key to effective listening and interpersonal abilities, more generally, is to be able to keep an open mind to be able to comprehend why people have different opinions about the world around you and then use that knowledge to understand better the thoughts of the person speaking.

Signs that are non-verbal of poor listening

The signs of inattention when listening can be seen in:

Inability to make eye contact with the person speaking People who are in contact with the speaker are likely to make eye contact. The absence of eye contact could be an indication of shyness.

A posture that is not appropriate such as slumped over, leaning back, or’ swinging’ over the chair and leaning forward against tables or desks, and/or an unsteady posture. People who pay attention are inclined to lean just a little toward the speaker.

Being distracted – fidgeting, doodling, looking at a watch, yawning. Inappropriate facial expressions and absence of head nods. An active listener is likely to nod their head typically in the hopes of encouraging the speaker to pay attention. The absence of head nods could be a sign that listening isn’t taking place. This is also true of facial expressions. Observant listeners utilize smiles as feedback mechanisms and to demonstrate their interest.

Rapid changes in the topic – listeners who are distracted might suddenly be thinking about something completely unrelated to the topic and then attempt to shift the conversation to the new topic.

The term “selective” listening is when the listener believes they have heard the key aspects. They cut out the information they consider important and cease listening or get distracted.

Daydreaming It can happen when the listener is able to hear something that triggers an unrelated series of thoughts within their head. They get disoriented by their ‘world and take on a ‘far away appearance.

Advice Beginning to give guidance before they fully comprehend the issues or issues of the person speaking.

Exercise: ineffective listening

This test will require you to become completely sincere with yourself. Find a moment when you weren’t listening to your surroundings effectively. Consider the reasons for this. What were barriers to effective listening present? What behaviors were you aware of displaying (or trying to avoid)?

I hope that you must have gained substantial practical knowledge about communication skills – we will meet once again in Advance Communication Skills Course shortly

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