Effective Communication

communication barriers

Effective communication occurs when information sharing results in a desired effect, such as eliciting change, generating action, creating understanding, or communicating a certain idea or point of view. This effect also ensures that messages are not distorted during the communication process. When the desired effect is not achieved, factors such as barriers to communication are explored, with the intention being to discover how the communication has been ineffective.

Barriers to effective communication can retard or distort the message and intention of the message being conveyed which may result in failure of the communication process or an effect that is undesirable. They include filtering, selective perception, information overload, emotions, language, silence, communication apprehension, gender differences and political correctness. Another common barrier is a lack of ‘knowledge-appropriate’ communication, which occurs when a person uses ambiguous or complex legal words, medical jargon, or descriptions of a situation or environment that is not understood by the recipient.

Attitudinal barriers come about as a result of problems with staff in an organization. These may be brought about by 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 simply resistance to change due to entrenched attitudes and ideas.

Another problem stems of the use of ambiguous words or phrases. Words sounding the same but having different meaning 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. 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.

There are also physiological barriers resulting from individuals’ personal discomfort, caused—for example—by ill health, poor eyesight or hearing difficulties. Cultural differences come into play for people who have experienced different social and religious environments. For example: words, colors, and symbols have different meanings in different cultures. In most parts of the world, nodding your head means agreement, shaking your head means no, but not in all.

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