“Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again.” – André Gide (French author and winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1947).
Sometimes, somewhere between the moment someone speaks and another responds, communication becomes broken.
We’ve all been there. A conversation, or even an online chat or string of mobile texts, leads to a terrible misunderstanding and all of a sudden all hopes for reaching an agreement go right out the window. What happened?
Most Common Barriers to Effective Communication
1. Physical Barriers: this has to do with poor or outdated equipment used during communications, background noise, poor lighting, temperatures that are too hot or too cold.
2. Attitudes: emotions like anger or sadness can taint objectivity. Also being extremely nervous, having a personal agenda or “needing to be right no matter what” can make communications less than effective. This is also known as “Emotional Noise”.
3. Language: this can seem like an easy one, but even people speaking the same language can have difficulty understanding each other if they are from different generations or from different regions of the same country. Slang, professional jargon and regional colloquialisms can even hurt communicators with the best intentions.
4. Physiological Barriers: ill health, poor eyesight or hearing difficulties, pain.
5. Problems with Structure Design: companies or institutions can have organization structures that are not clear, which can make communications difficult. Also to blame for faulty communications are bad information systems, and lack of supervision or training of the people involved.
6. Cultural Noise: people sometimes make stereotypical assumptions about others based on their cultural background.
7. Lack of Common Experience: it’s a great idea to use examples or stories to explain a point that is being discussed. However, if the speaker and the audience cannot relate to these examples because they do not have the same knowledge or have not shared the same experiences then this tool will be ineffective.
8. Ambiguity and Abstractions Overuse: leaving things half-said, using too many generalizations, proverbs or sayings, can all lead to communications that are not clear and that can lend themselves to misinterpretations.
9. Information Overload: it takes time to process a lot of information and too many details can overwhelm and distract the audience from the important topics. Keep it Simple, Sweetie.
10. Assumptions and Jumping to Conclusions: This can make someone reach a decision about something before listening to all the facts.
All of these barriers to effective communication can either distract those involved or otherwise hinder your communications. Make sure they’re not in the way of making your point crystal-clear!
Here are also some great books on the subject that you may want to check out:
|Can’t Get Through: Eight Barriers to Communication||The Psychology of Persuasion: How To Persuade Others To Your Way Of Thinking|
Other Useful Resources:
Wikipedia – Barriers to effective human communication