Barriers to Effective Human Communication

Physical barriers
Physical barriers are often due to the nature of the environment. An example of this is the natural barrier which exists if staff are located in different buildings or on different sites. Likewise, poor or outdated
equipment, particularly the failure of management to introduce new technology, may also cause problems. Staff shortages are another factor that frequently causes communication difficulties for an organization. Distractions like background noise, poor lighting, or an environment that is too hot or cold can all affect people’s morale and concentration, which in turn interfere with effective communication.

System design
System design faults refer to problems with the structures or systems in place in an organization. Examples might include an organizational structure that is unclear and therefore makes it confusing to know who to communicate with. Other examples could be inefficient or inappropriate information systems, a lack of supervision or training, and a lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities which can
lead to staff being uncertain about what is expected of them.

Attitudinal barriers

Attitudinal barriers come about as a result of problems with staff in an organization. These may be brought about, for example, by such factors as poor management, lack of consultation with employees,  personality conflicts which can result in people delaying or refusing to communicate, the personal attitudes of individual employees which may be due to lack of motivation or dissatisfaction at work,
brought about by insufficient training to enable them to carry out particular tasks, or just resistance to change due to entrenched attitudes and ideas.

Ambiguity of words/phrases
Words sounding the same but having different meanings can convey a different meaning altogether. Hence the communicator must ensure that the receiver receives the same meaning. It is better if such words are avoided by using alternatives whenever possible. Individual linguistic ability the use of jargon, and difficult or inappropriate words in communication can prevent the recipients from understanding the message. Poorly explained or misunderstood messages can also result in confusion.  However, research in communication has shown that confusion can lend legitimacy to research when persuasion fails.

Physiological barriers
These may result from individuals’ personal discomfort, caused—for example—by ill health, poor eyesight, or hearing difficulties.

Presentation of information
Presentation of information is important to aid understanding. Simply put, the communicator must consider the audience before making the presentation itself and in cases where it is not possible, the presenter can at least try to simplify his/her vocabulary so that the majority can understand.
Wow! How many of these communication mistakes are small business owners making? “Simply put, the communicator must consider the audience….” What if we really understood people? How much more effectively could we communicate with them? What if we truly understood human behavior? What if we understood the needs, wants, and desires of others?  When I started my business I didn’t want to know about human behavior.  I just wanted to make my customers happy. However, I learned that understanding human behavior is the key to marketing, sales, customer service, and leadership.
In order to communicate better, it is important to understand others.  Each of us has a different way of communicating. Understanding these communication styles helps us to connect better. I am grateful for the various behavior assessment programs that are available as they have helped me understand myself and others so I can communicate more effectively.  There are a number of programs available, and we use an in-depth program in my training systems, but the DISC Profile is a simple tool that has been especially helpful to me over the years. I will share a bit about that later.

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