Communication is the process through which information is transferred from the sender the receiver via a given medium. Under normal circumstance, the expectation is that the receiver will successfully decode the message and send it back to the sender as feedback (Mehrabian, 1971, p. 9).
In order to operate at an efficient level, all organizations need effective communication. On the other hand, workplace communication has not always been easy. This is because the workplace constitutes individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds and aspirations (Mehrabian, 1971, p. 15).
It is the wish of every organization therefore that effective communication would thrive in the working environment. However, there are various challenges that might be encountered in the process. If at all we wish to achieve effective communication, there is need to convey information in a clear and unambiguous manner. This means that there should be no distortion of messages.
On the other hand, if your message is not well received then you are facing a barrier to effective communication. These barriers to effective communication have always acted as roadblocks to our personal and professional lives (Barnlund, 2008, p. 19).
An effective communication barrier remains one of the greatest challenges that organizations have to encounter in their day- to- day operations. It has been proven that there is a 50% to 70 % loss of meaning to messages conveyed from one individual or group of individuals to another (Barnlund, 2008, p. 25).
This therefore helps to explain why there are various barriers to effective communication in any given organization. These barriers may vary from different organizations in relation to how they handle communication. They include; physical barriers, emotions, language, lack of subject knowledge and stress.
Physical barrier to communication can be viewed from different perspectives. It may be in the form of a large working area that is physically separated from the other (Barnlund, 2008, p. 28). As a matter of fact, it will not be easy for communication to take place because on most occasions, individuals may end up not relaying their messages well.
There are also other distractions that may cause physical barriers in a given organization, such as noise. Noise does not allow effective communication to thrive because there will be a lot of distractions that may lead to distortion (Mehrabian, 1971, p. 23). The environment might not facilitate effective communication in a broad perspective. This can be the office environment an individual is exposed to, such as the allocation of tasks and other things.
Language becomes a barrier to effective communication when people cannot understand each other while communicating (Berlo, 1997, p. 18). This is especially the case when there is an inability to converse in a language that is understood by both the sender and the receiver within an organization. People can sometimes write or speak in a language that is not understood well by another individual and this means that there will be some misunderstanding in as far as communication is concerned.
There should be a common language either in written or spoken from, and such a common language should be understood by everybody within the organization. Although this can be achieved, nevertheless, it has been complicated by the fact that there are some organizations that operate on a global market. Such organizations are normally exposed to different language and cultural backgrounds that end up hindering effective communication in a broad way (Berlo, 1997, p. 25).
Emotions have also proved to be a barrier to effective communication in different perspectives of an organization. If one’s emotions are engrossed he/she will not be in a good position to express or converse in an understandable way, and this will create a big misunderstanding (Schramm, 1994, p. 11). In such a situation, one will have a big problem in understanding what others are saying or still they will not be in a good position to listen carefully to what is being communicated.
Emotional interferences vary from individual to individual depending on their personalities. In some scenarios, it might be necessary for organizations to ensure that they understand their employees well and in the process come up with good mechanisms that will facilitate communication (Schramm, 1994, p. 18).
Lack of subject knowledge has also come out as a barrier to effective communication in different ways. It is quite obvious that if one is not in a good position to understand a subject knowledge, he will not be able to convey or explain what a particular message was meant or intended for. If both the receiver and sender are not in a position to understand the subject knowledge, then it is obvious that they will not communicate well and this will be a barrier to their communication (Berlo, 1997, p. 35).
Stress has also been mentioned as a barrier to effective communication in many organizations. It is undeniable that an individual may not communicate well if he/she is under stress. Employees might be subjected to stress depending on the tasks that they have been assigned to accomplish. This means that if an employee is under a lot of stress he/she might find it hard to understand a message and this will lead to distortion (Schramm, 1994, p. 23).
It can be explained that in times of stress, our psychological frame of mind will depend on different things. This can be our experiences, beliefs, values and goals which may make us not to realize the essence of effective communication (Schramm, 1994, p. 29). All these barriers to effective communication must be deal with for organizations and the society to reap the full benefits of communication. An effective and active listening process seems like the only remedy to triumphing over barriers to effective communication.
Possession of the right skills of listening acts as the foundation to becoming a good listener. This means that they should strive to become effective listeners. Effective listening can not be done concurrently with speaking but should be enhanced for good communication to take place (Handel, 1989. P. 12).
There is need for one to cultivate the right skills of listening through being quite attentive at social engagements and in conversations in order to achieve maximum benefits. In any given society, most people prefer talking to listening. There is a common feeling that people will prefer to be approved, understood and appreciated from what they say rather than what others say (Handel, 1989. P. 16).
Conversely, speaking helps individuals to express their thoughts and desires. People will always see a lot of advantages in speaking rather than listening to what others are saying (Handel, 1989. P. 18). The importance of listening has therefore been ignored save for academic and professional fields (Schramm, 1994, p. 31).
It is important to cultivate the right direction that will guide us on when to talk and listen. Effective listening should be cultivated not out of fear of speaking but the desire to have good communication skills. It should be understood that we don’t listen to impress others but rather to have a good understanding of the individuals we are communicating with.
People who are good in communication have always attested to the fact that it is very important to listen than to talk. When an individual listens attentively, he/she will be in a good position to understand the situations at hand, people and the world around thereby forming a good opinion and judgment. This will result in good communication that will enhance our relations (Handel, 1989. P. 22).
To achieve effective listening, we must be able to concentrate on what others are saying. On the other hand, we must also be in a good position to send a non verbal message that we are actually interested in what others are saying and in real sense listening to it (Handel, 1989. P. 26). In addition, it also necessary that we avoid early evaluations when people are talking so that we can listen to them well and get what they really meant.
Effective listening demands that individuals avoid being defensive when they are conversing. This will enable them to listen to each other well and enhance communication. It is also good to practice paraphrasing so that you can easily give out information that will be understood by the recipient (Handel, 1989. P. 28). This can also be enhanced by listening for feelings that will enable us to have a good judgment.
Barnlund, D. C. (2008). A transactional model of communication. New Jersey: Transaction.
Berlo, D. K. (1997). The process of communication. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.
Handel, S. (1989) Listening: An Introduction to the Perception of Auditory Events. Cambridge: MIT Press
Mehrabian, A. (1971). Silent Messages. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth
Schramm, W. (1994). How communication works: The process and effects of communication. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press.