BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION
No matter how good the communication system in an organisation is, unfortunately barriers can and do often occur. This may be caused by a number of factors which can usually be summarised as being due to physical barriers, system design faults or additional barriers.
Physical barriers are often due to the nature of the environment.
Thus, for example, the natural barrier which exists, if staff are located in different buildings or on different sites.
Likewise, poor or outdated equipment, particularly the failure of management to introduce new technology, may also cause problems.
Staff shortages are another factor which frequently causes communication difficulties for an organisation.
Whilst distractions like background noise, poor lighting or an environment which is too hot or cold can all affect people's morale and concentration, which in turn interfere with effective communication.
System design faults refer to problems with the structures or systems in place in an organisation.
Examples might include an organisational structure which is unclear and therefore makes it confusing to know who to communicate with.
Other examples could be inefficient or inappropriate information systems, a lack of supervision or training, and a lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities which can lead to staff being uncertain about what is expected of them.
Attitudinal barriers come about as a result of problems with staff in an organisation.
These may be brought about, for example, by such factors as poor management, lack of consultation with employees, personality conflicts which can result in people delaying or refusing to communicate, the personal attitudes of individual employees which may be due to lack of motivation or dissatisfaction at work, brought about by insufficient training to enable them to carry out particular tasks, or just resistance to change due to entrenched attitudes and ideas.
OTHER COMMON BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION INCLUDE:
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Psychological factors such as people's state of mind. We all tend to feel happier and more receptive to information when the sun shines.
Equally, if someone has personal problems like worries about their health or marriage, then this will probably affect them.
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Different languages and cultures represent a national barrier which is particularly important for organisations involved in overseas business.
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Individual linguistic ability is also important. The use of difficult or inappropriate words in communication can prevent people from understanding the message.
Poorly explained or misunderstood messages can also result in confusion. We can all think of situations where we have listened to something explained which we just could not grasp.
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Physiological barriers may result from individuals' personal discomfort, caused, for example, by ill health, poor eye sight or hearing difficulties.
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Presentation of information is also important to aid understanding.