Effective communication is very important in every organization because it acts as a means through which managers transfer directions and orders, establish co-ordination and develop employees. Communication barriers refer to problems or hurdles that interfere with the exchange of information between the sender and the receiver. Such problems affect the normal operations in an organization and may even lead to underperformance by employees (Lunenburg, 2010). Managers need to understand the different types of communication barriers for them to take workable steps to overcome them. According to Erven (2000), the four key barriers to communication are personal barriers, process barriers, semantic barriers, and physical barriers. An effective manager must be able to take necessary steps to overcome these four types of communication barriers. This paper describes the guidelines, tools, practices, or procedures that an effective manager would use to overcome personal barriers, process barriers, semantic barriers, and physical barriers.
Process barriers are the hindrances that occur in the course of communication. Communication is always a process that involves the transfer of information from the sender to the receiver. There should be a common understanding between the sender and the receiver for an effective communication to occur. A breakdown to the process of communication can occur if the steps of communication are blocked. Examples of process barriers of communication include lack of message clarity and sending a given message to the wrong receiver. In order to overcome process barriers to communication, the manager must identify the correct receiver of information and ensure that the message will go through the right encoder and decoder (Lunenburg, 2010). The bottom line in overcoming process barriers is maintaining message clarity throughout the communication process. In addition, the manager needs to define properly the main purpose of information and the role it will play in the communication process. Proper definition of the purpose of information will determine how the receiver reacts to the message received from the sender (Erven, 2000).
Physical barriers refer to any physical distractions that are likely to interfere with the success of communication. These are factors found in the immediate environment of the receiver or the sender. For example, communication may be interrupted by an in-coming visitor, statics on the radio, and a telephone call. A manager can avoid interruptions such as in-coming visitors and telephone calls by instructing the office secretary to keep them waiting when he or she is communicating with another person (Xie, 2013). Time and distance are also classified under physical barriers. For example, a written form of communication may take time to reach the sender due to a long distance between the source of information and its destination. Such information may be stale as a result of the delay. Physical barrier to communication that results from time and distance can be overcome by choosing the right mode of communication. The type of media chosen will determine the time that a particular message will take before it reaches the receiver (Erven, 2000).
Semantic barriers of communication are problems associated with language. These hurdles originate from the ability of the communicator as well as his or her linguistic background (Xie, 2013). Different individuals in an organization have varied literacy and educational backgrounds. For this reason, there is always a problem with communication between the managers, supervisors, unskilled workers, and skilled employees. These people may end up giving a variety of meaning to information depending on their level of understanding. Examples of semantic barriers of communication include badly expressed messages, wrong translations, and unclarified assumptions (Lunenburg, 2010). An effective manager can overcome semantic barriers to communication by using a suitable language that can properly be understood by everyone involved in the communication. In addition, the manager should clarify the meaning of every complex word used during communication in order to avoid misinterpretation by the receiver (Xie, 2013).
Personal barriers refer to individual characteristics that may interfere with effectiveness of communication. These barriers are normally influenced by organizational structure where the supervisors may not relate properly with his or her subordinates (Xie, 2013). Every organization consists of people who hold different status and position levels. Ineffective communication between the supervisor and his subordinates may prevent exchange of ideas, provision of suggestions and proper decision making. For instance, when a supervisor fails to admit errors and declines to listen to subordinates, it becomes difficult for the subordinate to give opinions that may help solve a problem (Lunenburg, 2010). Other examples of personal barriers include attitude and regard, the urge for self-satisfaction, distrust, and prejudice. A manager can overcome personal communication through orientation of new employees including newly recruited supervisor and subordinate staff. This will enable employees to understand the structure of their new organization and the proper channel that information should take in the company. In addition, a manager can train employees on various interpersonal skills and their importance in communication. This will help solve problems associated with distrust, attitude, and prejudice (Erven, 2000).