A communication barrier is anything that prevents you from receiving and understanding the messages others use to convey their information, ideas, and thoughts. The problem of communication arises because various obstacles may entirely prevent a communication, filter part of it out, or give it incorrect meaning. These obstacles are known as communication barriers. These barriers may operate in organizational communication as well as in non-communication may be grouped as semantic barriers, emotional or psychological barriers, organizational barriers, and personal barriers, organizational barriers. Some of these barriers operate in all types of communication while others may be more relevant for organizational communication.
Semantic is the science of meaning, as contrasted with phonetics, the science of sounds. All communications are symbolic, that is, these use symbols that suggest certain meanings. Semantic barriers arise from limitations in the symbols with which are communicate following types of semantic barriers are more prominent.
1. Symbols with different meanings: Communication symbols usually have a variety of meanings, and we have to choose one meaning from many. In verbal communication, a particular word may have a variety of meanings. non-verbal symbols may also convey different meanings to different persons. In such a situation, often there is a possibility that the receiver of the symbols may attach quite a different meaning as compared to intended by the sender and communication breaks down.
2. Badly expressed messages: Lack of clarity and precision in a message makes it badly expressed. Poorly chosen and empty words and phrases, careless omission, lack of coherence, bad organization of ideas, awkward sentence structure, inadequate vocabulary, platitudes, numbering repetition, failure to clarify implications are some common faults found in this case.
3. Faulty Translation: A manager receives much information from his superiors and subordinates and he translates it for all the employees according to their level of understanding. Hence, the information has to be molded according to the understanding or environment of the receiver. If there is a little carelessness in this process, the faulty translation can be a barrier in communication.
4. Unclarified assumptions: Certain uncommunicated assumptions underlie particularly all meanings. Though a message appears to be specific, its underlying assumptions may not be clear to the receiver.
5.Technical Jargon: Generally, it has been seen that the people working in an enterprise are connected with some special technical group who have their separate technical language.
Their communication is not so simple as to be understood by everybody. Hence, technical language can be a barrier to communication. This technical group includes industrial engineers, product development managers, quality controllers, etc.
Emotional or Psychological Barriers
The importance of communication depends on the mental condition of both parties. A mentally disturbed party can be a hindrance in communication. Following are the emotional barriers in the way of communication.
1. Premature Evaluation: Sometimes the receiver of information tries to dig out the meaning without much thinking at the time of receiving or even before receiving information, which can be wrong. This type of evaluation is a hindrance in the exchange of information and the enthusiasm of the sender gets dampened.
2. In attentions: The pre-occupied mind of a receiver and the resultant non-listening is one of the major chronic psychological barriers. It is a common phenomenon that people simply fail to react to bulletins, notices, minutes, and reports.
3. Loss by Transmission and Poor Retention:
When a message is received by a person after it has passed through many people, generally it loses some of its truth. This is called loss by transmission. This happens normally in the case of oral communication. Poor retention of information means that with every next transfer of information the actual form or truth of the information changes.
According to one estimate, with each transfer of oral communication, the loss of the information amounts to nearly 30%. This happens because of the carelessness of people. Therefore, the lack of transmission of information in its true or exact form becomes a hindrance in communication.
4. Failure to communicate: It is quite an accepted fact that managers often fail to transmit the needed messages. This might be because of laziness on the part of the communicator or assuming that “everybody knows” or procrastination, “hogging” information, or deliberately embarrassment.
Organizational structure greatly affects the capability of the employees as far as communication is concerned. Some major organizational hindrances in the way of communication are the following:
1. Organisational Policies: Organisational policies determine the relationship among all the persons working in the enterprise. For example, it can be the policy of the organization that communication will be in the written form. In such a situation anything that could be conveyed in a few words shall have to be communicated in the written form. Consequently, work gets delayed.
2. Rules and Regulations: Organisational rules become barriers in communication by determining the subject matter, medium, etc. of communication. Troubled by the definite rules, the senders do not send some of the messages.
3. Status relationships: Under organizing all the employees are divided into many categories based on their level. This formal division acts as a barrier in communication especially when the communication moves from the bottom to the top.
For example, when a lower-level employee has to send his message to a superior at the top level there is a lurking fear in his mind that the communication may be faulty, and because of this fear, he cannot convey himself clearly and in time. It delays the decision-making.
4. Complexity in Organisational Structure: The greater number of managerial levels in an organization makes it more complex. It results in a delay in communication and information gets changed before it reaches the receiver. In other words, negative things or criticism are concealed. Thus, the more the number of managerial levels in the organization, the more ineffective the communication becomes.
5. Organizational Facilities: Organisational facilities mean making available sufficient stationery, telephone, translator, etc. When these facilities are sufficient in an organization, the communication will be timely, clear, and by necessity. In the absence of these facilities, communication becomes meaningless.
The above-mentioned organizational barriers are important in themselves but some barriers are directly connected with the sender and the receiver. They are called personal barriers. From the point of view of convenience, they have been divided into two parts:
Barriers Related to Superiors
1. Fear of Challenge of Authority: Everybody desires to occupy a high office in the organization. In this hope, the officers try to conceal their weaknesses by not communicating their ideas. There is a fear in their mind that in case the reality comes to light they may have to move to the lower level,
2. Lack of Confidence in Subordinates: Top-level superiors think that the lower-level employees are less capable and, therefore, ignore the information or suggestions sent by them. They deliberately ignore the communication from their subordinates to increase their own importance. Consequently, the self-confidence of the employees is lowered.
Barriers Related to Subordinates
1. Unwillingness to Communicate: Sometimes the subordinates do not want to send any information to their superiors. When the subordinates feel that the information is of negative nature and will adversely affect them, an effort is made to conceal that information.
If it becomes imperative to send this information, it is sent in a modified or amended form. Thus, the subordinates, by not clarifying the facts, become a hindrance in communication,
2. Lack of Proper Incentive: Lack of incentive to the subordinates creates a hindrance in communication. The lack of incentive to the subordinates is because their suggestions or ideas are not given any importance. If the superiors ignore the subordinates, they become indifferent towards any exchange of ideas in the future.