Barriers in Communication

Topics: Communication, Nonverbal communication, Barrier Pages: 5 (1064 words) Published: October 2, 2012
Communication barriers

There are various barriers in communication that are commonly faced in organisations. Before we go right into the barriers of communication, we must first understand the meaning of communication.

Communication is defined in many different ways. It is defined as sharing of ideas among two or more people through verbal and non-verbal communication. Examples of verbal communication is communicating face-to-face or through telephone. While non-verbal communication is through email, letters, memos and more written forms.

Now we will discuss some of the examples of barriers to communication gathered from various articles.


Noise is the biggest common barrier in communication. It can be internal and external. It acts as an interference that occur during a communication process and prevents us from listening effectively. Here are the examples of internal and external noises. Internal noise begins with the person himself. For example, instead of noises that can be heard, internal noise occurs in a person’s mind. Noises that can be heard, such as a construction which is in working progress or traffic noise, are the examples of external noise.

Information Overload

In communication, we are prone to getting information. But sometimes it can be too much of an information. Otherwise known as information overload. This means that when there is too much information, it can exceed one’s ability to process. When one does not process the given information, there will be a barrier.

Cultural Differences

A barrier to intercultural communication happens when the behaviour of an individual is different from your own (Chaney and Martin 2000). However, it is not only the cultural differences that cause a communication barrier but the inability to recognize and understand the cultural differences. A number of barriers to communication have been identified in the literature, including the following by Hodgettes and Luthans(2003), Deresky(2002a) and Ferraro(2002):

Linguistic – Differences in the languages spoken, in the use of vocabulary, in the attribution of common meaning, intonation patterns, and expressions that may be incomprehensible.

Cultural – Differences in attitudes and values, social systems and orientation to the group and family, workplace relationships, religious beliefs, and levels of ethnocentrism and “otherness”

Perceptual – A tendency to view other cultural through one’s own cultural lens and have limited and/or incorrect views of other cultures, and a tendency to make judgments and to stereotype people

Experiential – A lack of similar life experiences and a reluctance to accommodate change or new cultural experiences

Nonverbal - Differences in the use of nonverbal codes and signals in the communication process (body language, gestures, eye contact, touch) and the interpretation of these codes

Physical preferences – Differences in approaches to time, space, environment, comfort and needs

Emotional – Personal feelings (negativity about new experiences), the stress that often accompanies communication between people of different cultural backgrounds because of the high degree of uncertainty, and culture shock.

Trust and Credibility

Lack of trust is a huge barrier to effective communication.
For example, if a company starts to suspend employees after telling them that suspension would not occur, those employees will probably not believe anything else their managers tell them. Communicating with someone whose trust has been broken requires time to talk to the person to listen to their worries and stressing the importance of the long-term relationship. Before asking for opinions or asking for their cooperation, wait until trust has been restored.

Lack of credibility prevents the listener from fully receiving your message. The receiver can hear your words but won’t believe you or acknowledge your perspective because they question your knowledge base....

References: Time, Trust & Credibility, Filtering – Mieke Witsel, Drs. (Amsterdam), M.A. (Amsterdam), M.A.C.E., F.R.S.A. 2008 Communication in Organisations
Cultural Differences – Judith Dwyer. Communication in Business 3rd Edition
Emotion – Bovée Thill. 1997 Business Communication Today 6th Edition
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