Barriers of Communication
Communication is the process of passing information and understanding from one person to another, any thing that obstructs the free flow of communication is referred to us Barrier of communication- E.g. Problem in encoding and decoding, wrong or defective communication channel, noise in the channel etc. Barrier may arise at any of the following level:
1. The sender’s level
2. The receiver’s level
3. The medium of communication.
Types of Barriers: The barriers to communication in an organization may be broadly categorized into following groups:
1. Physical barriers
2. Socio- psychological or personal barriers
3. Organizational barriers
4. Semantic barriers
5. Mechanical barriers
However, such a classification does not suggest that these are mutually exclusive. Rather, it is helpful in understanding the nature of communication barriers.
1. Physical Barriers: There are the environmental factors that also obstruct or reduces the sending and receiving of communication, such as physical distance distracting noises and other interferences difficulty arises in communicating a message, when the physical distance increases:
I. Noise: Noise is first and foremost barrier to effective communication. Noise may be caused by machines, equipment, communication device, disturbances in the time of transmission etc. noise also encompasses many other factors such as the sender may use ambiguous or confusing signal. The receiver may misinterpret the message. Thus communication is likely to be spoilt due to noise.
2. Socio-psychological or personal Barriers: There are certain socio psychological factors which restrict the free flow of communication. They are the attitude and opinions, status consciousness, ones relations with fellow workers, seniors, and junior’s etc. family background. These restrict participative communication:
I. Motives, attitudes, judgments, emotions, and social values of people from the part of the personal barriers. Psychological distance is also developed with this.
II. Individual Differences: There are differences in the motives, attitudes and sentiments of the people. So this causes problems in encoding and decoding other’s sentiments, attitudes and motives.
III. Differences in interest: The interest of people also differs. A problem may be important for one person but may not carry weight for another. The ideas, question, attitudes, feelings etc of other party may represent an obstacle to one’s own personal goal.
IV. Division of People: Communication is ideas and viewpoint also gets affected by the division of people into classes, castes and communities.
V. Difference of view points: Communication suffers when there are differences in view point of the different people.
VI. Lack of planning: Good communication never happens but has to be planned. When people take it lightly and communicate without planning it turns into mis communication or mal communication.
VII. Cultural barriers: Due to difference in the cultural background the same word, phrases, symbols, actions etc. may mean different to different group of people. Mis understanding may take place due to this.
VIII. Emotions: Self control is essential in effective communication. Messages are likely to be distorted when it is influenced by emotions of both sender and receiver.
IX. Poor retention: when people forget the messages reaching them, the need arises to repeat the message using more than one media of communication for the same message. It should also be noted that about 80% of the messages is lost in each transmission.
X. Poor listening: Poor listening defeats the very purpose of communication. It leads of poor retention and incomplete messages reception. Receivers should be encouraged to be attentive listeners.
3. Organizational Barriers: Organisational barriers arise due to defects in the organization structure and the communication system of an organization:
I. Hierarchical distance: Downward communication promotes hierarchical distance. The chances of information being filtered are more at this structure, because there are several layers. Information received from the top may not reach at bottom in the same shape. The information gets coloured which brings hierarchical distance.
II. Diversion: Diversion of information is also one of the causes which brings barrier to communication process. For example sometimes a manager diverts the information meant for one person or group to another.
III. Colouring: Information are also coloured by the manager intentionally with a view to twist the situation in their favour. For example, an office may quote his subordinate wrongly, to spoil his career or his chance of promotion or his image in the eyes of the boss.
IV. Status barriers: Status is a barrier of communication in a formal organization. Organizational interaction and communication are influenced by the status and the expectations.
V. Goal conflicts: Goal conflict acts as communication reducers. Different goal lead to bifurcation of interest. Due to this communication suffers.
VI. Filtering: Filtering means manipulation of facts by the sender in such a way that the receiver it favourably. This happens more often in case of upward communication when the subordinates try to please their boss. The result is communication of incomplete or bias information.
VII. Insufficient period for adjustment: People take their own time to adjust. When the purpose of communication is to bring about changes, sufficient time should be given to the employees to adjust themselves to ensure communication.
4. Semantic Barriers: Semantic means the relationships of signs of their reference. Semantic barrier arises from the disadvantages of the symbolic system. Symbols have got number of meaning and one has to choose any one of them according to the requirement of communication. Hence, a meaningful distinction should be made between inferences and facts.
Semantic refers to the study of relationship of words and signs. It arises from the disadvantage of symbolic system. Symbol or the language is the most important tool of communication which has to be used very carefully:-
I. Words with different meaning: Some words convey more than one meaning. When the receiver assigns a different meaning to a word than what the sender intended, there occurs mis-communication.
II. Denotation and connotation: Words have two types of meaning. Denotation and connotation. Denotation is the literal meaning of the words connotation are the suggestive meaning of the words. Connotation is the suggestive meanings of the words. Connotation may be positive or negative.
III. Offensive style of communication: Badly expressed messages lose their impact. Offensive style of communication leads to communication breakdown causing loss of time and money.
IV. Wrong assumptions: Communication should not be based on assumption as it may lead to wrong interpretation. All possible efforts should be made to clarify assumptions.
V. Selective perception: many a time the message is decoded by the receiver in a way which may be selective. In other words most of the receivers protect their own interest and expectations leading to a particular type of feed back which becomes a communication problem.
5. Mechanical Barriers: Mechanical barriers include inadequate arrangement for transmission of news, facts and figures. Example poor office layout and defective procedure and the use of wrong media led to poor communication.
I. Information overload: Excess of communication is called information overload. Brevity is the soul of communication. The receiver cannot comprehend and absorb beyond his mental capacity. His mind will remain closed for the excess part of the communication. Therefore one should be brief and to the point.
II. Loss of transmission: When messages are transmitted from person to person they are filtered. In other words they are diluted and distorted on the way. In oral communication about 30% of the information is lost in each transmission.
Steps to overcome the barriers of communication in an organization
In order to remove barriers to communication an open door communication policy should be prepared and followed by managers at all levels. The superiors in the organization must create an atmosphere of confidence and trust in the organization so that the credibility gap may be narrowed down. Major efforts in this direction are:
1. Two-way communication: The organization’s communication policy should provide for a two-way traffic in communication upwards and downwards. It brings two minds closer and improves understanding between the two parties the sender and the receiver. There should be no communication gap.
2. Strengthening Communication Network: The communication network should be strengthened to make communication effective. For this purpose the procedure of communication should be simplified, layers in downward communication should be reduced to the minimum possible. Decentralization and delegation of authority should be encouraged to make information communication more efficient.
3. Promoting Participative Approach: The management should promote the participative approach in management. The subordinates should be invited to participate in the decision making process. It should seek cooperation from the subordinates and reduce communication barriers.
4. Appropriate Language: In communication certain symbols are used. Such symbols may be in the form of words, pictures and actions. If words are used, the language should be simple and easily comprehensible to the subordinates. Technical and multi-syllable words should, as far as possible be avoided. The sender must use the language with which the receiver is familiar.
5. Credibility in Communication: One criterion of effective communication is credibility. The subordinates obey the orders of their superior because they have demonstrated through their actions that they are trustworthy. They must practice whatever they say. The superior must also maintain his trust worthiness. If the superior is trusted by the subordinates, communication will be effective.
6. Good Listening: A communicator must be a good listener too. A good manager gives his subordinates a chance to speak freely and express their feelings well before him. The manager also gets some useful information for further communication and can also have a better understanding of the subordinates needs, demands etc.
7. Selecting on Effective Communication Channel: To be effective the communication should be sent to the receiver through an effective channel. By effective channel mean that the message reaches its destination in time to the right person and without any distortion, filtering or omission.
8. Preventing Predictable Decision Making Errors: Predictable errors in decision making are preventable errors. And a few simple techniques can help in clear of the most common wrong turns in decision making.