Barriers in communication can cost a company money, prevent innovation and even negatively affect employee morale. When management and employees are unable to speak with and understand each other, understanding of corporate culture breaks down on both ends. For efficient, healthy workplaces, all employees must understand the barriers to effective communication so they may be overcome.
One prime example of a barrier to communication is attitude. It can rear its ugly head for all sorts of reasons, including lack of organisation, poor leadership, a failure to get employee buy-in and even just differing personalities. When attitudes get in the way of communication, people refuse to listen to one another and may allow emotions to get in the way of corporate progress.
When communication is hampered by attitude, it can bring down employee morale and even spread disinformation. It also makes employees resistant to change and less likely to embrace new training and other opportunities.
State of Mind
People bring all sorts of issues to the workplace that have little or nothing to do with their actual jobs. Personal troubles, family issues and other problems may all affect a person's ability to communicate effectively. According to Scotland's JISC Regional Support Centre, people who are more content are frequently more receptive to information, and when people are sad or distracted, they are less likely to be effective communicators.
Language and Culture
While it seems a bit obvious, speaking different languages can often lead to barriers in communication because people simply cannot understand one another. At the same time, there can be barriers when people speak the same language but come from different cultures and educational backgrounds. To communicate effectively, an individual must ensure he is speaking clearly and using the most universal concepts available in order to get his message across. This is where it becomes vital to ask questions and confirm others understand what you are trying to communicate.
There are all sorts of physical barriers that get in the way of effective communication. Loud noises, chaotic workplaces and even outdated technology can slow down or stop employees from communicating with one another. Old computers with outmoded technology may make it frustrating to send e-mails or instant messages; outmoded phone systems may break down or lack voicemail technology that allows people to leave messages or return calls. Shabby and dirty workplaces also decrease communication because they lower morale.