Overcoming Barriers to Communication: General Advice


What Are the Barriers of Communication?

First off, what are communication barriers? Barriers to communication are difficulties which are caused by natural, social and psychological factors that arise in the process of human interaction.

cross-cultural communication barriers

People are complex and sensitive recipients of information, having their own desires, feelings, and life experience. The information they receive can cause a variety of internal reactions that amplify, distort or completely block the information that they receive.

The correct perception of information largely depends on the difficulties that may or may not be present. If there is a difficulty, a piece of information is distorted or loses its original meaning, and in some cases, a recipient does not receive it at all. Such difficulties increase the psychological distance between partners, they can reduce the level of mutual understanding, mutual trust and, as a result, the effectiveness of their interactions.

The first general principle of human interaction states that it is impossible to achieve effective communication due to the barrier of the subjective interpretation of the meaning of information. This barrier exists for the reason that all the messages received pass through the personal experience of a person, their education, background, knowledge, attitudes, prejudices, hopes, fears, likes and dislikes, desires and expectations at the time when the information is transmitted. As a result, a person hears not the same thing that was said, but what they think was said. A person who tries to convey information believes that if they are well aware of what they want to say, and convey it to others, their words will be understood by the addressee with the same meaning that they put into them. To destroy this difficulty, it is necessary to constantly clarify the way in which your information was received.

The second general principle of human interactions states that a person’s attitude and predisposition towards their interlocutor can also create some issues. If an interlocutor causes a feeling of mistrust or hostility, then it is also transmitted to the information provided. In this case, the information will not be perceived as significant. The authority of an interlocutor plays a large role in the eyes of their partner. If a person is respected, then there will be fewer difficulties in their interactions and assimilation of information, and vice versa, if a person is not respected, a partner will feel the unwillingness to listen to them at all.

Let’s now look into all the types of barriers of communication.

Types of Communication Barriers

  • Cultural obstacles

These include all difficulties that arise during interactions that are based on background, culture, religion, upbringing and etc. People come from different backgrounds and cultures, and they have their own traditions, stereotypes, and values, so there is a place for misunderstanding and conflicts.

  • Interpersonal obstaclesovercoming communication barriers

These include all conscious and unconscious difficulties and obstacles that arise between individuals who come into contact with each other. In this situation, it should be noted that the participants of these interactions are not aware of these obstacles and difficulties themselves. The degree and nature of their awareness also vary.

  • Physical obstacles

Physical barriers to communication are not as prominent, and they are not that problematic, they include various noises, time, distance, environment, technical problems, and various others barriers of communication that are external in nature.

Cultural Barriers to Communication

These are quite prominent barriers to effective communication. Due to cultural differences between people, human interactions are not always effective. These are called cross-cultural communication barriers. It is a fact that effective interactions are the key to success in personal and business relationships. In the absence of understanding between two people, the actions will not be in tandem with real motives. Most of all, the reason for the lack of effective interactions between two people is cultural differences between them.

People coming from different countries cannot find solace in interactions with each other. When two foreigners get together, their ways of thinking clash. Let’s say that you are a man from Eastern Europe and you invite an American woman on a date, she will probably not appreciate your gallantry as well as your attempts to look after her, despite the fact that this is completely normal to you.

Interpersonal Communication Barriers

The phonetic obstacles are associated with speech imperfections, which include:

  • Speech that is too quiet caused by a combination of excitement and improper breathing, which is hard to hear from a distance of just a few meters. If a message is not of particular importance to an interlocutor, then they will not listen to it. Even if an interlocutor is interested, the likelihood of misunderstanding is quite high;
  • Speech that is too fast: when a person runs marathon through their sentences, it makes it difficult for listeners to follow their thoughts, especially when a person is reading a text;
  • Speech that is too monotonous that lulls attention;
  • Noticeable pauses, “Uh ... ugh,” “well,” “you know";
  • Swallowing words: it is when a person gets more and more silent as a phrase gets to its end, which makes it harder for listeners to hear every word that was said, which increases the risk of misunderstanding.

The semantic obstacles of misunderstanding are associated with differences in value systems (thesauruses) of participants in communication. This is a more common problem than the problem of slang and jargon. Very often, misunderstanding arises due to the fact that the same word has different meanings, and disputes arise without an objective basis, it is rather based on the conflict of perception of the same exact word. To verify this, you can ask a few people what love is. Some will say that this a long-term relationship between two people, while others will say that this a feeling that you feel towards people that are close to you. Both of them will be right. The words are ambiguous, and the thesauruses of the participants of human interactions are different. It is necessary to constantly clarify what meaning an interlocutor puts into one or another term.

The stylistic obstacles of misunderstanding can destroy normal interpersonal interactions. It occurs when an interlocutor’s style of speech does not match the context of an interaction. Thus, the scientific style of speech is inappropriate in the context of a working-class audience.

These were some communication barriers in the workplace, now let’s look into some emotional barriers to communication.

Psychological Barriers to Communication

  • Logic

Such an obstacle arises when the logic of reasoning, which an interlocutor offers, not coincides with the logic of another person. In psychological terms, it can be argued that there are many logics systems of evidence. Gender can be one of the reasons for the existence of personal barriers to communication between two individuals. There are "male logic" and "female logic." Male logic most often coincides with the formal logic that Aristotle introduced yet, and female logic differs from formal logic, but it is logical in its own way. In psychology, studies of female logic have only just begun.

  • Negative emotions

Emotions are a person's subjective reaction to the effects of internal and external stimuli, manifested in the form of pleasure and displeasure, impulses, fears, interests. Not all emotions are obstacles in human interactions, but there are some emotions that can turn out to be obstacles. Emotional obstacles arise as a result of persistent negative emotions. Such emotions include suffering, anger, disgust, scorn, fear, shame, guilt and bad mood in general. In accordance with these emotions, one can identify their personal obstacles.

  • Suffering

This communication obstacle is usually caused by tragic events, physical pain, severely low self-esteem, dissatisfaction with their social status, etc. As a result, there is a decrease in the level of sociability of a person who is suffering, and those who come into contact with them. This also comes down to personal experiences, if a woman had a pretty bad divorce in the past – she may never be able to trust men again, or at least she will find it really hard to do. It is one of the most common barriers to effective communication in marriage.what are communication barriers

  • Anger

This obstacle is particularly difficult to overcome since anger causes actions that interfere with normal human interactions, insults, etc. The stronger the anger is, the more often people use it in their interactions with other people.

Let’s now answer the question of how to overcome communication barriers.

Overcoming Barriers to Communication

When we talk about overcoming communication barriers, it is first necessary to determine their cause. To do this, you can pass a test or try to identify a problem independently. Interpersonal obstacles are the most common ones. They are associated with the acquired experience of a person, their habits and intentions. Such barriers have the following reasons:

  • different goals of communication;
  • poor awareness of an interlocutor;
  • a difference in moral positions;
  • mismatch of communication styles.

Another important aspect of overcoming barriers to communication is that it is necessary to compare your goals and those of your interlocutor, to know your opinions on any given subject. You need to make it clear that you will not sacrifice your interests, but you are ready to compromise. If there is a clear lack of information in your conversation with other people, you should ask them to clarify a few things for you. If a partner or a colleague does not understand the subject of conversation at all and is just wasting your time, you should politely leave a conversation.

In the case when a partner has an unacceptable ethical position for you, you should not try to re-educate them. If an interaction is inevitable, it’s better not to touch the taboo subject. It is necessary to accept any style that partner brings to a dialogue, but only if it does not cause irritation and does not impair the sense of your dignity.

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