Communication is essential not only in business, but in everyday life. There are many different reasons why people fail to communicate effectively, but this essay will focus on four different barriers to communication. These barriers are process, personal, physical, and semantic barriers.
Process barriers are an initial failure of communication between the sender and the receiver. The sender is the person communicating or “sending” a message to another person, the receiver. The receiver listens or “decodes” the message that the sender is trying to broadcast. When a process barrier occurs it happens for a number of reasons, including but not limited to information overload, fear of criticism, language differences, preoccupation, and failure to ask if understanding has occurred. In order to combat process barriers as a manager I would employ such tactics as clarifying my message to ensure that the receiver understands the message I am trying to convey, conduct meetings or one-on-one conversations in an area conducive to conversation versus an area packed with distractions and unneeded noise, ensure that the message I intend on delivering is simple, concise, and to the point, use appropriate translators when needed for language differences, and always ask the person or persons I am communicating with if they have understood the message as well as ask them to repeat what I have stated in their own words to ensure understanding.
Personal barriers are barriers pertaining to the sender and receiver themselves. Forms of personal barriers are personal experience, filtering, and personal distance. Personal experience encompasses what the sender or receiver has actual experience in. This can cause problems if the person you are communicating with has no understanding of the concept that you are talking about because they have no experience with the matter. Filtering is when the receiver only sees or hears what they are emotionally tuned in to, which means if the receiver sees or hears that the message that is being conveyed does not pertain to them then they will “tune” it out. This can be caused when the person you are communicating with feels that they have no interest or stake in what you are communicating. Personal distance occurs when the receiver of the communication harbors feelings of resentment or rage at the sender.
This can be caused when a manager patronizes an employee instead of talking to them in a respectful manner. In order to combat personal barriers I would ensure that the message that I am conveying is within the receivers’ experience, and if it is not to ensure that information, training or education is provided to make sure that the person has the ability to understand the conversation. In the case of a cultural difference, as a manager, I would feel that it was my duty to try to understand their culture to ensure that I will be understood, and they will properly receive the message without any unintended insult. To combat filtering I would try to inspire a sense of ownership in the topic that I am discussing with the person or persons I am discussing it with.
When someone has a sense of ownership about something they strive to understand it and work harder to achieve the goal behind it. By doing this it will help to keep the receivers’ focus on the message I am transmitting. To combat personal distance I would ensure that I always treat everyone, especially the persons I am communicating with, with respect. By treating everyone respectfully it helps combat any resentment that can occur. To also combat personal distance I will always ask my receivers for their feedback to ensure that any questions, concerns, or understanding issues can be handled appropriately.
Physical barriers are barriers that can be caused by noise, incorrect media, and physical location. Examples of physical barriers are a television in the background, a telephone call during a meeting, using email or a memo instead of face-to-face or video conferencing, and geographical location of the sender or receiver. To combat physical barriers I would ensure conversations take place in a quiet area without distractions to ensure that the conversation can remained focused upon by both sides. During meetings I would institute a no phone policy to make sure that focus remains on the discussion at hand. As a manager I would make sure that the media I am presenting is correctly formatted for the receivers, such that important messages not be sent via memo or email, but instead with face-to-face meetings.
Face-to-face conversations should be used as much as possible because it allows both the sender and receiver to make sure that the message is understood, and any feedback is achieved. In addition face-to-face meetings allow nonverbal messages to be received which can be helpful in decoding messages. When faced with geographical location differences I would try to use video conferencing as much as possible for important discussions to ensure that the messages are properly encoded and decoded. When not communicating via video conference appropriate use of email will be used, but always making sure that the email conveys the correct message and that it is open-ended allowing for feedback.
Semantic barriers are barriers caused by word usage, words that have multiple meanings, and jargon. When communicating with people using words that have multiple meanings a misunderstanding can occur. Also, using technical jargon with people who are unfamiliar with the process or the technical language can cause problems with transmitting and receiving messages. In order to combat semantic barriers as a manager I would be sure to used clear and concise language to ensure that there is no confusion with what I am trying to confer. If a message needs to be transmitted that involves a process that the person I am communicating with is unfamiliar I will be sure to use layman terms or provide an adequate explanation that will ensure understanding. Another method I will employ will be to ask the receiver if they understand, have questions, and if they could explain my transmission in their own words to ensure understanding.
Communication barriers present a real issue in business, and can cause potentially big problems between co-workers, suppliers, vendors, and customers. In order to combat process, personal, physical, and semantic barriers of communication one must make sure that they are adequately communicating their transmission, and ensure that the receiver completely understands by offering them the opportunity to use feedback. By limiting the amount of distractions present when trying to communicate, and listening as well as transmitting successful communication is possible.