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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Barriers to Effective Communication

There are a wide number of sources of noise or interference that can enter into the communication process. This can occur when people now each other very well and should understand the sources of error. In a work setting, it is even more common since interactions involve people who not only don't have years of experience with each other, but communication is complicated by the complex and often conflictual relationships that exist at work.

In a normal work environment, the following barriers can play critical role for communication
  • Language: The choice of words or language in which a sender encodes a message will influence the quality of communication. Because language is a symbolic representation of a phenomenon, room for interpretation and distortion of the meaning exists. In the above example, the Boss uses language (this is the third day you've missed) that is likely to convey far more than objective information. To Terry it conveys indifference to her medical problems. Note that the same words will be interpreted different by each different person.
  • Defensiveness, distorted perceptions, guilt, project, transference, distortions from the past.
  • Misreading of body language, tone and other non-verbal forms of communication.
  • Noisy transmission (unreliable messages, inconsistency)
  • Receiver distortion: selective hearing, ignoring non-verbal cues
  • Power struggles
  • Self-fulfilling prophecy
  • Assumptions-eg. assuming others see situation same as you, have same feelings as you.
  • Distrusted source, erroneous translation, value judgment, state of mind of 2 people
  • Perceptual Biases: People attend to stimuli in the environment in very different ways. We each have shortcuts that we use to organize data. Invariably, these shortcuts introduce some biases into communication. Some of these shortcuts include stereotyping, projection, and self-fulfilling prophecies. Stereotyping is one of the most common.
  • Interpersonal Relationships: How we perceive communication is affected by the past experience with the individual. Perception is also affected by the organizational relationship two people have. For example, communication from a superior may be perceived differently than that from a subordinate or peer.
  • Cultural Differences
  • Majority of meaning comes from Nonverbal Communication Cues.