Barriers to Effective Communication
Language:The choice of words or language in which a sender encodes a message will influence the quality of communication. Meaning has to be given to words and many factors affect how an individual will attribute meaning to particular words. It is important to note that no two people will attribute the exact same meaning to the same words.
Cultural Differences: Given some dramatic differences across cultures in approaches to such areas as time, space, and privacy, the opportunities for miscommunication while we are in cross-cultural situations are plentiful. Social and geographical differences make communication more complex. What is acceptable in one culture may be taboo in the other.
Internal and External Noise:External noise refers to those created by the medium or channel, for example, a bad telephone connection or a noisy air conditioner could make listening difficult. Internal noise refers to some ‘hot buttons’ that may exist in the mind of the speaker and the listener. These hot buttons could be triggered off by any or all of the following:
- Defensiveness: distorted perceptions from one’s past
- Assumptions:assuming others see situation same as you, has the same feelings as you.
- Perceptual Biases: people attend to stimuli in the environment in very different ways. We use shortcuts to organize data. Invariably, these shortcuts introduce some biases into communication. Some of these shortcuts create self-fulfilling prophecies.
- Stereotyping: this is when we assume that the other person has certain characteristics based on the group to which they belong without validating that they in fact have these characteristics.
- Interpersonal Relationships: how we perceive communication is affected by the past experience with the individual. Perception is also affected by the organizational relationship two people have. For example, communication from a superior may be perceived differently than that from a subordinate or peers.
- EmotionalState: A person’s emotional state could affect the way they communicate. For example, one may be an extremely prolific speaker but if the person is under severe stress—physical or mental—it could have an impact on how they talk. Therefore, not only is it important to understand how each one of us operates under stress but also how it affects our relationships with others.
To overcome these barriers and become more effective, one needs to understand and develop a style of communication that includes active listening, providing constructive feedback using the right words and positive assertion. The following units will discuss each one of these parameters in detail.
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