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Barriers to effective communication


Barriers to effective communication

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       Communication is the exchange of information between individuals using verbal and non-verbal methods with the key intention of giving and receiving a message (Lunenburg, 2010). Communication barriers are factors that hinder effective exchange of information leading to misinterpretation of the message or a message not being conveyed to the recipients (Lunenburg, 2010). These barriers can be minimized by appropriate strategies that can be put in place to avoid miscommunication and enhance understanding between involved parties.

       Cultural and national differences are one of the greatest barriers to communication (Lunenburg, 2010). This involves parties or individuals of different backgrounds and beliefs coming to a mutual understanding with regards to a subject matter. This differences include race, religion, nationality and tribe. Other differences include differences in cultural and belief systems. These differences are enhanced by stereotypical thinking that the involved individuals are used to and during communication. Their judgements may be biased on this type of thought, hindering a clear communication and agreement basis. This therefore makes communication between the individuals much harder.            There is also the factor of traditional thinking that causes communication between individuals of different cultural backgrounds to be ineffective (Pennington, 2014). The traditions of people are hard to change and therefore when one party decides to communicate about the other party changing certain habits that may be hindering effective communication, the results may be disappointing. This is  because the party whose traditionalistic ideas are involved may not be able to come to terms with the other party’s views. This may result in a breakdown of communication.

         Conventional thinking may also have similar results as the traditional thinking because it is easy for a communication barrier to develop if one of the individuals involved in the communication process does not understand the core values that are rooted within the opposite party. There is the fact of logic thinking when it comes to ineffective communication that is mainly cultural and that is communicating messages that are not logically acceptable by the cultural group one is dealing with. Things that seem logical for one party may not be necessarily logical to the other and forcing these thoughts can result in the development of a communication barrier. Acceptable styles of communication are also different among cultures. Physical communication is a common example here because things like a touch can be acceptable in some communities, like hugging or touching a person’s arm when talking. These physical gestures are not acceptable by other cultures or religions as they are unacceptable mostly between people of the opposite sex and this can be misinterpreted as trespassing and thus leading to a communication breakdown (Shrivastava, 2012).

         Sometimes people are afraid of communicating some things due to cultural reasons. This is because it is a taboo to talk about certain things in some cultures even if these things are troublesome to the individual. Communicating such information to others can be difficult due to the cultural approach on the topic and talking about them can cause the person to be shunned within the community.

       Interpersonal differences can be some of the biggest barriers to communication strategies (Lunenburg, 2010). When two individuals that are not in good terms with each other try to communicate in order to come to a mutual understanding over an issue that needs to be smoothly communicated, often times  it tends to be harder because of the conflict between them. Interpersonal conflicts are defined as lack of achieving a common ground of understanding and interferes with the goal attainment of the involved parties (Lunenburg, 2010). This hinders proper communicating because for individuals to come to a better understanding and a common ground they need good interpersonal relations among themselves. The occurrence of most conflicts is associated with faulty communication. Most communication failures due to interpersonal differences can be contributed by hierarchical difference, conflicting roles and interpersonal power.

         Lack of participation between members can also be a form of a barrier since one of the party is less interested in the question at hand and does not communicate well thus causing misinterpretation and miscommunication (Pennington, 2014). People can show lack of participation by their unwillingness to take part in the discussion, dodging questions, not giving appropriate answers and lack of respect towards their partners in this situation. This hinders the possibility of a fruitful talk and is a big communication barrier. There is also the factor of lack of open mindedness between people during communication (Lunenburg, 2010). When people are not open to the different views and opinions of others and are not paying attention to their ideas, there can be a breakdown of communication and this can lead to misinterpretation. The use of nonverbal gestures for communication purposes can also be misinterpreted if the parties involved are not in the right terms. Things like a touch can be perceived as an aggressive move and not a friendly touch if the involved individuals were quarrelling.

     There are strategies that are planned to minimize these barriers to communication and if followed might be of importance and can improve communication between people.  In a situation where the barrier seems to be of cultural indifference, the involved parties would be better off if they tried to understand each other’s background well before doing or saying something that might not sit well with their partner. This is called cultural awareness and it involves having a thorough understanding of cultures and beliefs and learning the similarities and differences of all the interested parties (Brown and Bylund, 2008). It can also be solved by using ideas and approaches that are well balanced for the beliefs and cultures involved rather than being biased about ideas put forward (Brown and Bylund, 2008). Taking an interest in the opposite individual’s beliefs and seeing from their perspective also culminates in a possible good communication ground rather than forcing ideas and talking about things that are not acceptable with the involved partner. Interpersonal differences causing barriers to communication can also be solved by minimizing strategies. These strategies include; listening. Listening is key for any communication to happen. Individuals who listen to each other’s opinion rather than interfering, tend to have better communication skills and can get their information across as well (Lunenburg, 2010).  Provide appropriate feedback is important for improving communication and if possible adding constructive criticism to the information shared so that the person can benefit while communicating (Brown and Bylund, 2008). The ability to differentiate between facts and feelings during a discussion is also key for proper communication (Lunenburg, 2010). Not letting one’s personal feelings get in the way during communicating and rather opting to talk about facts is a much better strategy to minimize communication barriers caused by interpersonal differences.  Focusing on the issue rather the people involved is also a strategy that can be approached (Ellis and Beattie, 2017). Attacking the people involved directly and not putting all the energy on the subject matter is a massive barrier to communication between people with differences and these can be remedied by focusing on the issue at hand. Therefore, when communicating it is well advised that one tackles the issue at hand rather than the people involved as this smoothens the communication and  people can come to much more productive solutions.

In conclusion, communication is a very important tool that helps people to strategize, share views/ideas and come up with solutions. Communication has been the core of human interaction and has enhanced over time but will always serve the same purpose, to get across information and that is vital. When this information transmission is interfered with it is important to come up with cross cutting solutions that help smoothen the process. Effective communication is the reason people come up with innovative ideas and solutions that can save mankind therefore making it a core subject of discussion.


Brown, R. F., & Bylund, C. L. (2008). Communication skills training: describing a new conceptual model. Academic Medicine83(1), 37-44.

Ellis, A. W., & Beattie, G. (2017). The psychology of language and communication. Routledge.

Lunenburg, F. C. (2010). Communication: The process, barriers, and improving effectiveness. Schooling1(1), 1-11.

Pennington, D. C. (2014). The social psychology of behaviour in small groups. Routledge.

Shrivastava, S. (2012). Comprehensive modeling of communication barriers: A conceptual framework. IUP Journal of Soft Skills6(3), 7.