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The barriers to business communication are anything that interferes in the communication process as a consequence of which the message may not be received by the receiver as was intended by the sender.
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What are barriers to communication
The barriers to business communication may also be defined as obstructions or blockades or hurdles, stoppages and bottlenecks ineffective system of communication.
The figure below shows the concept of an obstacle to communication.
Noise as a Barrier
“Noise” is the disruption or hindrance in communication process anywhere along the way as shown in figure 1.5. It can occur at any point in the communication process.
Noise can be the sound of someone coughing, a truck driving by, or two people talking close at hand. It can also include disruptions such as a letter being lost in the mail (either traditional or electronic), a telephone line going dead, or one of the participants in a conversation being called away before the communication process is completed.
Perceptual and Language Differences
Perception is in general how each individual interprets the world around him. People generally want to receive messages which are significant to them.
Example: A person is on leave for a month due to personal reasons (family member being critical). The HR Manager may be in confusion whether to retain that employee or not, the immediate manager might think of substitute because his team’s productivity is being hampered, the family members might take him as an emotional hold.
Managers are bordered with a pool of information. It is necessary to control this information flow else the information is likely to be misinterpreted or forgotten or overlooked. As a consequence, communication is less effective.
At times we just not listen, but only hear
Example: A traveller may pay attention to one “NO PARKING” sign, but if such sign is put all over the city, he no longer listens to it. Therefore, repetitive messages should be dismissed for effective communication.
Frequently in an organization, the targets have to be achieved within a specified time period, the failure of which has adverse consequences. In a haste to meet deadlines, the formal channels of communication are shortened, or messages are partially given, i.e., not completely channelled. Thus ample time should be given for effective communication.
Emotional state at a peculiar point of time also affects communication. If the receiver feels that communicator is angry he understands that the information being sent is very bad.
Complexity in Organizational Structure
Greater the power structure in an organization (i.e. more the number of managerial levels), more are the chances of communication getting lost. Only the people at the top level can see the overall picture while the people at low level just have knowledge about their own area and a little knowledge about other areas.
Human memory cannot function outside a limit. One can’t always retain what is being told especially if he is not interested or not attentive. This leads to communication collapse.
Overcome Barriers To Communication
How to overcome barriers in communication? Constant work is required to overcome barriers which unconsciously sneak up in the process of communication. Barriers can be overcome if sufficient effort is put into the communication process and it is wanted that communication be effective and efficient.
Following are some of the measures to overcome barriers to communication:
- Fostering good relationships: Strong relationships must be forged between the employer and employee in order to avoid misunderstandings and accept each other’s view in order to remove the barriers and to help proper communication in the organization.
- Purposeful and well-focused communication: Communication should be purposeful and aimed at an individual. At the end of the communication, the receiver should not be left to feel that communication had been meaningless or useless.
- Coordination between superiors and subordinates: In case, the superior thinks at a level, which is different from that of the subordinate and vice-versa, it will impact the effectiveness of communication. Thus, there should be good and proper coordination and co-operation between the superior and subordinate for effective communication.
- Avoid technical language: Specialized language should be avoided. Efforts should be made to use language commonly understood by the receiver and sender of the message. There should be the least use of technical jargon in the communication process.
- Accuracy: There should be accuracy in the message to be carried between both parties for the communication to improve its effectiveness.
- Feedback: The selective percept of receiver should be minimized through proper feedback. The drawback of selective perception should be explained to minimize the barriers.
- Clarity in message: The message to be transferred should be clear, practical accurate and without any equivocalness.
- Communication of organizational philosophy: Efforts have to be made in a planned way to sensitize people with organizational philosophy. It should be properly communicated to its employees so that it allows proper attention in their day-to-day communication.
- Flat organizational structure: The organization should have a clear-cut and simple organizational structure. Tall hierarchical structures should be removed, and changed to flat structures to avert excessive control of information. Wrong information transferred to anyone in the organization can prove detrimental. Proper restyle of organizational structure will trim down the status gap.
- Division of labour: There should be a proper division of labour between people in order to reduce information overload and keep delay in information transfer.
- Minimize semantic problems: People use either the same word in different ways or different words in the same way. One will be surprised to know that there are 15 different meanings of the word ‘charge’ in the English language. They also occur when people use jargons or professional shorthand which they expect others to understand, or use language that is outside the other’s vocabulary.
- Organization policies: The organization should devise its policies in such a way that it will give full advantage to all members of the organization.
- Proper communication channels: If one wants immediate action from the receiver, there is no need to send a lengthy discussion report. One can pick up the telephone or go to his office to tell him what to do.
- Right feedback: Although one-way communication is quicker, two-way communication is more exact.
Thus, in order to communicate effectively, there is a need to overcome all barriers to business communication and also develop skills to improve existing communication abilities.
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