Beware of Barriers in Communication

Communication is the accurate transfer of thoughts from the mind of one individual to the mind of another and his/her acceptance of those thoughts.  Therefore, effective communication is dependent upon the degree of understanding and acceptance that occurs between the sender and receiver of the message.

Barriers of Communication

All too often, the communication does not achieve the desired results because barriers to the communication process exist in others and us.  The principle barriers can be grouped into three broad categories: –


Physical barriers are environmental factors, which actually prohibit or limit the extent of communication, such as, distance, lack of time, noise, and external disruptions, such as, failure of mechanical equipment, etc.


Psychological barriers arise from personal differences in perspective between persons communicating with each other. Emotions, social values and differences in position in the organizational hierarchy can contribute to psychological distances between people that are as great as physical distances. In upward communication a subordinate may hesitate to tell his supervisor unfavorable news because he fears it may affect his relationship with his superior. For this reason the upward communication may be considerably slower than communication flowing downward.


Semantic barriers arise because much of what people say is subjective. Words and symbols, except in technical language, seldom have a single meaning, and they are not everything that is said based exclusively on facts. Words, such as, great, small, good and bad, are open to interpretation by the listener or reader. Thus, the intended meaning of a comment by the source may not be the same as the meaning accepted by the receiver.

Whenever we communicate, we need to be aware that these barriers may exist and to plan how to overcome them in the way we communicate.

Overcoming the Barriers:

There are three main ways in which the sender can help overcome the barriers to communication.

  1. EMPLOY FEEDBACK: This means making the communication a 2-way process.  Asking questions to check understanding or gain other input from the receiver.  In written communication feedback is not immediately available and this is a disadvantage of the method.  The only way to get feedback is through discussion before you write.
  2. KNOW YOUR RECEIVER: Consider educational background, knowledge of subject and interest in it as well as any information you may have on his/her personal feelings towards you as the sender.
  3. PLAN YOUR COMMUNICATION:  Ask yourself:
  • WHY am I communicating?
  • WHO is the receiver?
  • WHAT is the message?
  • HOW should I communicate?
  • WHERE should it be made?

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