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5 barriers to effective communication at workplace

by | Sep 17, 2022 | Corporate Grooming, Life Coaching

How often do you hear this phrase – ‘Communication is the key’?

Its cliché, yet true.

Being able to communicate is easy for few, and a biggest challenge for others. After all, we communicate every day, then why is to so complicated and frustrating when we have to interact with people?

The reason could be most times when we are emotionally and personally invested too much into the situation, that miss out on communicating very effectively. Besides, we are probably encountering one of the barriers of the communication that can affect both personal and professional relationships. 

Effective communication eliminates confusion, improves overall productivity, streamlines collaboration, and boosts personal morale.

Sounds great, right?  But here’s the catch, being able to effectively communicate isn’t always easy for everyone, and that is totally understandable. As each individual face different experiences and situations in their daily lives, it depends on what extent the person can push him/herself towards overcoming barriers to effective communication.

If you are finding it challenging to communicate in a work setting or if you are an organization finding some unknown disturbance created within the teams, then here are seven common barriers of communication that might stand in your way. Let’s further discuss about each one-off them and figure out how you can overcome them. Let’s dig in.

1.Cultural Barrier

A team with diverse backgrounds always tends to have a solid foundation for the idea generation process. A diverse team is where people with different cultural backgrounds, race, generations, and more come together to achieve a common goal. This also means they tend to have certain set of presumed set of values, ethics, preferences, and work norms. Its great to have diverse teams in a work setting, as it helps you as an individual to expand your knowledge levels and grow both personally & professionally. 

But the most common challenge that organizations with diverse teams’ experience is the cultural differences in terms of communication skill. Some employees may find themselves not being able to fit in with the culture of an organization. It is indeed a challenge to effectively communicate with someone when you aren’t able to understand or relate to what they are trying to communicate. 

How to overcome 

If cultural communication barriers exist in real, then its time to find ways to navigate these and create a more harmonious environment. 

Let your employees create a user manual that shares information about how to work with them and communication preferences, in terms of receiving feedback.

The most effective method, is to form an understanding of the group’s expectations and rituals, as knowing them would help in building harmonious relationships among the team members and contribute towards shared objectives.

2.Physical Barrier

High walls and closed cubicles – No.1 culprits that often create obstacles in effective communication keeping team members far apart. Distance can be a barrier. Research have shown that proximity is very crucial for building more cohesive teams, yet workplaces often stifle with a range of physical communication barriers, such as, – office dividers, closed doors, separate areas for employees based on hierarchy levels, etc. 

Recent times, with the rise of COVID work from home has added further communication barriers. 

How to overcome

Changing the complete physical architecture of the office might be a strenuous task right now, if your office represents what’s mentioned above. But there are few alternatives that you can adopt to steer your team around these barriers.

Plan a process while communicating among the teams. For instance, for immediate requests instant messaging can be used and whereas for status updates emails can be of great help. Create a standard ground rule for all the employees to follow, this can create a more correspondence. 

Always keep your office door open for people to approach, creating a sense of hierarchies will lead to formation of unions which isn’t really a good luck for an organization. Also, create some collaboration spaces for employees to gather around share their ideas, and brainstorm together.

3.Language barriers

Having to share common understanding of a situation or problem when both of you don’t speak the same language is highly challenging. Its not just about different dialects, its about the jargons too. If a HR team member is using terms like ‘succession planning’ & ‘benchmarking’ to accounts team then confusion is unavoidable.

How to overcome

If language is being a major barrier at workplace, then using a professional translation serve can help in bridging the gap to an extent. Also, always make sure to think from the other person’s perspective and try to explain a work or situation as simple as possible and avoid complex acronyms. 

Visual aids can be used to represent whatever you are trying to communicate. As they can authenticate the information to an extent.

4.Gender Barrier

Stereotypes are the most common problem faced in a work setting. Making general assumptions about how both genders communicate isn’t a news.

To improve work relationships, its suggested to pay close attention to any discrepancies how different genders communicate in a work setting. Having a clear understanding can help you in shaping your communication approach towards them.

How to overcome

Do not jump into assumptions. Make an impression after you get to know them, learn about each other regardless of gender differences. 

Encouraging feedbacks for each team member can help in addressing the barriers and work together in resolving them. 

There’s nothing to be ashamed of, have an open conversation of gender bias if you are finding one. Being transparent can do good to a great extent than turning a blind eye to it.

5.Emotional Barrier

Most times our emotions control the way we communicate with others. If you are anxious or angry then you will have a hard time in processing the information that’s been communicated to you. There’s a common saying that – “Never let your emotions overpower you”. But at times its unavoidable.

How to overcome

Emotions are a natural phenomenon. Instead of supressing an emotional issue its better to approach it together as a team and work towards dealing with them.

When the situation is getting heated, it is better to take a break for the conversation to gather your thoughts and deal it with a more matured way. Because anger makes us say things that most times we do not meant to say. 

Use your key the right way!

Communicating in a matured and effective manner is challenging at workplace, as there are varied mindsets gathered around working towards a common goal. 

Having communication barriers is common, its time for your organization as a team to address the issues and deal with it together as a team. Identify, understand, and steer around them. This will help your overall team synergy and help in growing onto a new level.