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Communication Barriers and How to Overcome Them

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We all strive to use effective communication skills every day; face to face, on the phone, via email, SMS and by letter. Unfortunately, barriers to effective communication constantly arise. According to research conducted by US firm Garter, 70% of mistakes at work are due to poor effective communication skills.

There are numerous communication barriers that prevent us from getting our message across, understanding other people’s messages and resolving conflict.

There are 4 main categories of communication barriers:

  1. Physical communication barriers such as social distancing, remote work, technology or noise.
  2. Perceptual communication barriers result from bias, stereotypical assumptions and beliefs.
  3. Emotional communication barriers result from emotions that interfere with our ability to convey or hear a message such as mistrust, fear or frustration.
  4. Language-communication barriers refer to how we speak both verbally and nonverbally and include things such as mumbling, lack of clarity and mixed messaging.

The first 3 barriers are good to be aware of. We need to try and utilise effective communication skills and conflict management face to face as much as possible, when we are in a positive frame of mind and not experiencing negative emotions and creating barriers to effective communication, and we need to challenge any biases and beliefs that may be affecting our conflict resolution strategies and business communication. The 4th category will form the focus of this article.

It’s important to remember that people have different communication skills and styles. For example, while some people may be highly detailed and specific when communicating, others may tend to generalize. This can lead to misunderstandings, information overload for some, anxiety, lack of clarity and poor conflict resolution in the workplace. Understanding your own and others’ preferences and learning how to modify your message accordingly is a key skill.

We also need to ensure clarity. This means checking that both parties are aligned and have the same understanding. Reducing communication barriers with the skill of summarising is particularly important here.

Messages need to be consistent and timely so that everyone shares a common understanding and they don’t miss out on vital updates or key information to help them perform their task adequately.

Effective ommunication skills will always be two-way, upward communication that should be encouraged via practices such as ongoing engagement with staff and forums for communicating improvements, ideas and feedback as well as conflict resolution. Employees who feel heard are 4.6 times more likely to perform better at work.

Teams who communicate effectively in the workplace may see as much as a 25% increase in their productivity. In order to minimise communication barriers, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What might get in the way of effective communication with this person?
  • How can I adapt or compensate accordingly?
  • What do they need to know?
  • How do I check we have the same understanding?

Communication barriers can never be completely eliminated. However, there are ways to reduce their negative consequences and make communication more streamlined and effective. Our communication courses teach effective communication skills and we also offer difficult conversation training. If you would like more information or to attend communication courses on communication barriers and effective conflict resolution, please contact JEM Training on 1300 850 959

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JEM Management Training

JEM Management Training designs and delivers flexible, in-house management training courses to help  organisations in Perth engage their staff fully in the workplace.

As time is often limited, JEM Training offers flexible half-day management training courses which focus on a specific area of management expertise. These short courses build upon each other over a period of time, chosen by you, to provide ongoing management development.

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