Effective communication is a powerful tool within any organisation. Although it may sound simple, there are many barriers that can prevent effective communication. They could be physical, linguistic, technological or emotional, but no matter the cause, these barriers need to be addressed. Poor communication can result in misunderstood instructions, lower productivity and frustration for both management and workers. By understanding the different types of barriers, you can begin to improve communication in your organisation.
The most obvious barrier that can prevent effective communication is a physical one. This could be due to office locations in different buildings or a poor office layout that makes it difficult for workers to communicate. Other examples of physical barriers are staff shortages, poor technology or environmental distractions, such as noise, bad lighting and temperature. Once these physical barriers have been removed, you can begin to look at other, nonphysical factors.
Differences in language between cultures is a common barrier for global operations. However, there is more to language barriers than simply speaking different languages. Individuals' ability to communicate appropriately and clearly can also affect communication. Inappropriate language should not be used in the workplace, and instructions should be delivered in a way that is clear to everyone.
The technological infrastructure of a business can also affect communication. Some people may not be as computer-literate as others, finding it difficult to send and receive information via e-mail. These individuals need to receive the appropriate training and guidance to improve their technology skills; otherwise, the chain of communication is broken from that employee's contact base.
If an employee feels scared, nervous, unhappy, defensive or even overconfident, she may present barriers to effective communication. For example, an overconfident employee might not listen properly to instructions or even disobey them and do things her own way. Learning the different personalities of the employees will allow you to address these issues and break down potential emotional barriers.