Although we start communicating with others at a very young age, social psychologists estimate that there is a 40 to 60 percent loss in meaning that occurs between the time a message is sent and received. Understanding the basic barriers in communication is the first step in becoming a better communicator.
Identify physical barriers to communication. Some of these barriers include distractions like a loud work environment, poor lighting, inappropriate temperature and poor or outdated equipment. Some physical barriers such as noise make communication impossible while others, such as an environment that is too hot or too cold, have the potential to affect morale and make effective communication difficult.
Find deficiencies in organizational design. Deficiencies in organizational design cause barriers in communication because they make it unclear who people are expected to communicate with in order to effectively and efficiently solve a problem. In organizations, a chain of command that is not established or lack of management supervision often leads to a lack in clarity regarding roles and responsibilities. In the workplace, this leads to a staff that is uncertain of what is expected of them.
Recognize barriers that are based on attitude. These barriers generally are a consequence of deficiencies in organizational design. Lack of training or supervision may lead to lack of motivation in employees, which in turn leads to a deficiency in job satisfaction and poor production rates.
Discern psychological barriers. People who are having personal problems or are distracted generally are not as receptive or responsive to the information they are receiving.
Understand cultural differences. Different cultures communicate differently. Effective communication in a multi-cultural environment requires the ability and willingness to translate the motives, aspirations, basic values and assumptions that fuel problems, habits or modes of communication.
Notice different linguistic abilities between communicators. The choice of words that a person uses is received and deciphered through the listener's filter based on his own experiences and abilities. Language is a symbolic means of communicating and there is a lot of room for distortion and misunderstanding.
Pinpoint physiological barriers such as misreading non-verbal cues. Those cues are anything from body positioning and body language to the person's tone of voice.
Be aware of other barriers to communication such as selective hearing, a hesitation to be candid or informal, lack of trust, defensiveness and stereotyping.