Barriers to Effective Communication

Published in


July 26, 2022


Milan Kordestani

Entrepreneur, writer, and founder of 3 purpose-driven companies oriented toward giving individuals control over their own discourse and creation. Milan works to produce socially positive externalities through a mindset of social architecture.

Hi! I'm Milan, an LA based founder and writer, architecting impact-first businesses.

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Communication is the essence of humanity. Our ability to understand each other's thoughts and feelings is what makes us human.

However,  because we have a tendency to interpret things in our own way, the way we intend our thoughts to be perceived by others is not always how they see them.

Effective communication involves overcoming any obstacles that stand in the way.

If you believe you’ve conveyed a message thoroughly but the other party doesn’t understand it, it’s your responsibility to clear up any confusion and avoid communication barriers.

What Is A Communication Barrier?

Barriers can hinder efficient communication and impede the flow of information. It's important to identify these issues and fix them.

Communication barriers can be anything that hinders the efficient exchange of ideas between two parties. They impede the flow of information and create misunderstandings, leading to hostility.

It's important to identify and fix these issues to enable conversation without any hiccups.

Types of Communication Barriers

Linguistic Barriers

Language is the most important and impactful aspect of communication. It’s what allows us to share information, express ourselves, and reach out to others.

However, linguistic barriers can occur when people speak different languages, dialects and accents. There's no silver bullet for the linguistic barriers you may face.

You can help by being more considerate of someone who is having trouble understanding you.

Give them time to adapt to your way of communicating, rather than getting frustrated at them for not understanding you or writing the conversation off entirely.

Psychological Barriers

Barriers to communication vary widely, including social anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and speech disorders.

The most common psychological barriers are personal and, therefore cannot be overcome with a simple conversation.

For example, someone with low self-esteem will find even a two-minute interaction difficult.

Someone with depression might talk even less and you’ll have to put in conscious effort to get them to converse.

Those with communication barriers need extra care and sensitivity when talking to them. Be gentle, and make them feel safe enough to participate in the conversation.

Emotional Barriers

The ability to interact with others and understand what they are going through is based on your emotional intelligence or emotional maturity.

A person who has a high emotional IQ will have better interpersonal relationships.

To get past the emotional barrier in a conversation, be self-aware and create an emotional balance in your communication.

This way, you won't come off as exceedingly needy or indifferent to the other person's comments.

Cultural Barriers

Different regions have different cultures offering a different ways of life. From their dressing style to behavior, everything varies with a change in the region.

Being culturally sensitive to your teammates can go a long way. When communicating with someone from a different background, treat them with respect, communicate clearly and encourage them when they respond.

This will help build their confidence and trust in you, while avoiding barriers to communication.

Three Common Communication Barriers Employees Face in the Workplace

Almost 96% of employees believe empathic communication enhances retention rates in the workplace.

Empathy lays the foundation for a positive tone in teams and boosts job satisfaction.

But most workplaces don’t have an empathic approach to communication, and employees face various barriers to communication each day that hinder their productivity.

To create a healthy work environment for your employees and yourself, you must identify and eliminate these common barriers to effective communication.

Here are three of the most common communication barriers that arise in the workplace and how to resolve them:

  • Information Overload

When delegating tasks, focus on the key project points to avoid information overload. Sharing every detail about the project will cause confusion and unnecessary delays in the team.

The leader must practice concise communication to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

  • Industry Jargon

In every industry, there is a specific way of communicating.

Industry-specific jargon can be beneficial for communicating inside the office’s premises and steer clear of barriers to effective communication.

However, this language can be challenging for outsiders to understand. When you have teamwork and collaboration with other industries or hire new employees, make sure to avoid using inside language.

  • Language and Cultural Barriers

Because employees may speak different languages and have different perceptions native to their cultures, this can create rifts in the workplace. To foster effective communication, consider others' ways of thinking and cultural backgrounds.

Workplace communication is founded on active listening and thoughtful questions.

Listen mindfully, ask meaningful questions, and provide constructive feedback to make your coworkers feel acknowledged.

Civil Discourse To Help Overcome Communication Barriers

Civil discourse is an inclusive form of communication in which each individual expresses their opinions without incurring judgment.

The true essence of civil discourse lies in understanding each other's views and presenting respectful disagreement to achieve common ground.

Civil discourse at the workplace helps everyone to actively present their unique ideas. It’s a great way to overcome communication barriers in your team.

Here are a few tips to help you create a civil workplace environment:

  • Present relevant facts and statistics
  • Give insightful feedback. Welcome constructive criticism with open arms  
  • Ditch your preconceived notions. Actively listen and form an opinion
  • Be ready to change your perception based on newly-acquired information and keep your mindset flexible
  • Adopt a solution-oriented approach and seek a common ground for everyone’s best interest

Final Verdict

Effective communication is essential in today's highly technological and informational environment.

While many still struggle with their communication skills, the inability to communicate effectively will hold them back in their careers and social and personal relationships.

Developing communication skills can open the door to better relationships, greater career opportunities, and a more confident sense of self.

 As you gain experience, you'll become more confident and effective in your communication, while staying away from numerous barriers to communication.

 All new skills take time to refine, but you can develop good communication skills with the effort and practice of refining those skills.