Common Communication Barriers In The Workplace

Communication is why the human species has surpassed the days of living in the trees and has advanced into the space age. Communication is the golden key to existence on our beautiful planet. Everyone and everything survives by communicating with one another. The real key is in understanding how to communicate effectively as well as efficiently. There are primarily two types of communication in humans, namely verbal communication and non-verbal communication. Humans use both of these types all over the world. While verbal communication is all about ‘what’ is said, non-verbal communication is about ‘how’ it is said. 

Although all the parties involved in the communication are aware of ‘what’ is being said and ‘how’ it is being said, there still remains ample opportunities for miscommunication. These miscommunications result from various ‘communication barriers’, which effectively hinder the process of communication or tend to misguide a certain portion of the participants. If we understand some of the common barriers in business communication, we can address them and communicate easily. 

  • Lack of confidence

We all know how it feels to have butterflies in our stomachs after standing in front of a group of people for the first time. Even after a few times, one might feel the same jitters. In the office settings, this can lead to some of the people, lacking confidence, staying quiet. Lack of confidence can create communication barriers. People might feel shy, awkward, or uncomfortable while talking to coworkers. This can result in hampered workflow and missed opportunities for better, efficient solutions. 

  • Ambiguity

In business communication, it is extremely important to be as precise as possible. Since business communication happens between a larger group of people than say, friends or relatives, it is important to ensure that every person has understood what you want to communicate. Keeping things unclear leads to confusion, misunderstanding and almost always disrupts the workflow. Unclear communication leads to losses and missed opportunities in business. 

  • Body language

According to a study by Dr. Albert Mehrabian, humans communicate 7% of information through spoken words and a whopping 93% through non-verbal communication or body language. Body language includes voice, tone, body movement, posture, and gestures. When you are communicating in person, you should pay attention to how you are speaking. Unwarranted gestures, angry or dissatisfied tone of voice, disinterested posture are all examples of bad non-verbal communication, which is a huge communication barrier. 

  • Inattentive listening

We sometimes have a tendency of ‘zoning out’ from conversations we are disinterested in. it also happens when you can’t really grasp what is going on but are unable to ask questions about it. The noise in our head starts getting louder and louder and potentially distracts us from paying attention to the speaker. This is a major red flag. It creates confusion, at times, results in ineffective practices and misguided opinions. Paying attention to the speaker, practicing mindfulness, and asking questions when you are in doubt can help you in case you feel like you are slipping away from the conversation. 

  • Organizational structure

Every organization functions differently. Every company has a hierarchy, and internal communication in the company relies on the smooth functioning of the same. While it is understandable that the higher ranks will have lesser time to spend in organizational communication. However, it is important to check and relay the information correctly and truthfully all the way to the lowest ranks in the company. If the organization has an unclear structure and no norms for internal communication, it will definitely prove to be counter-productive.