Barriers in communication – let’s study them thoroughly

Communication barriers and ways to overcome them

The purpose of this paper – To identify communication barriers in business communication and describe ways to overcome them.


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Branch of the Regional State Budgetary Professional Educational Institution

“Ryazan Pedagogical College” in Kasimov

(Branch of Regional State Budgetary Educational Institution “Ryazan Pedagogical College” in the town of Kasimov)

on the theme :

Communication barriers and ways to overcome them

D.Sh. Burnasheva, the student of the group 3F of the speciality – Physical training

Teacher G.I. Abramova

1. Communication barriers – main aspects

1.1 The concept of communication barriers and their main causes

1.2 Classification of communication barriers

1.2.1 Communication barrier “authority

Communication barrier “avoidance” 1.2.2.

Communication barrier “miscommunication” 1.2.3.

2. Techniques for overcoming poor communication

2.1 Rules and principles of building effective communication

We are all constantly in situations of communication – at home, at work, on the street, in transportation; with close people and complete strangers.

And, of course, a huge number of contacts into which a person enters on a daily basis requires him to fulfill a number of conditions and rules allowing him to communicate while maintaining personal dignity and distance in relation to other people.

Communication is peculiar to all higher living beings, but at the level of man it acquires the most perfect forms, becomes conscious and mediated by speech. In human life, there is not even the shortest period when he is outside of communication, outside of interaction with other subjects.

In communication there are: content, purpose, means, functions, forms, sides, types, barriers. The definition of the latter concept is devoted to our study.

The relevance of the problem of “barriers” of communication is due to a number of factors. First of all, the presence and expansion of the sphere of influence of such types of professional activity, the existence of which is associated with the system of “man-human” relations. It is obvious that in the sphere of business, pedagogy, engineering work, etc. it is impossible to exist effectively when the relationship is difficult. Developing and solving the problem of “barriers” is of practical importance for increasing the effectiveness of communication and joint activities. Recognition of “barriers” in the early stages of their manifestation contributes to optimization of joint activity.

The object of research – communication barriers

Subject of research – ways to overcome communication barriers

The purpose of this work is to identify communication barriers in business communication and describe ways to overcome them.

The objectives of the work include:

1. to substantiate the features of communication barriers

2. identify ways to overcome these barriers.

The structure of the work includes traditionally two chapters, as well as an introduction and conclusion. The first chapter provides a theoretical rationale for the causes of communication barriers due to the nature of business communication, listing their types.

The second chapter is devoted directly to methods for overcoming barriers and the resulting interpersonal conflict.

1. Communication barriers – main aspects

1.1 The concept of communication barriers and their main causes

Communications are connections between functions, divisions of management system, between people. Communications – interactions, bilateral efforts, without which joint activity is impossible, it is the first condition of existence of any organization [6, p. 25].

Realization of communications is the connecting process necessary for any important managerial action, – planning, organization, motivation, control, decision-making.

In the process of communication there may be various kinds of obstacles or barriers.

A communication barrier is a psychological obstacle in the way of adaptive information between partners in communication [16].

In the dialogue of people of different nationalities, for example, there may be a language barrier, and in the passage of the radio signal – radio interference.

In communications between a manager and a subordinate as interferences and barriers may serve as status differences between a manager and a subordinate, or the desire to hear only what one wants to hear. In a conversation, distractions, misinterpretation of information received by the recipient, and semantic problems (giving different meanings to the same words) can also be interferences. All interferences and barriers distort the transmitted signal, so it is important for the communicator to make sure that the recipient understands the information correctly. For this purpose, a feedback channel is included in the communication system. In a conversation, the feedback channel can be, for example, a brief retelling of what the recipient has heard. With the help of feedback the communicator can assess how effectively the communication is carried out.

Conventionally, the following causes of barriers in communication can be distinguished:

  • The complexity of the content of the message (related to speech, words, gestures, body movements);
  • Unusualness and complexity of the form of the message;
  • problems with the means of communicating the message;
  • poor feedback;
  • information lag, and others.

1.2 Classification of communication barriers

At least three communication barriers and their various modifications are possible in the process of business communication:

  1. “authority”;
  2. “avoidance”;
  3. “misunderstanding”.

The first two provide protection from the source of information, the last provides protection from the message itself.

1.2.1 Communication barrier “authority

By dividing all people into authoritative and non-authoritative, one trusts only the former and refuses to trust the others. Thus, trust and distrust are sort of personified and depend not on the characteristics of the information transmitted, but on the person who speaks. For example, the elderly listen poorly to the advice of the young.

Attributing a person to authority depends on the following factors:

  • social position (status) , from belonging to a real “authoritative” group. Psychologist P. Wilson showed students of different college classes the same man. In one class, the psychologist presented the man as a student, in the second – as a lab assistant, in the third – as a teacher, in the fourth – as an associate professor, and in the last – as a professor. After the guest left, students were asked to determine his height and that of the experimenter as accurately as possible. It turned out that the height of the stranger steadily increased as his social status increased, while the height of the psychologist did not change. Interestingly, the gap in the height of the stranger from the first to the last grade was 14-15 cm;
  • attractive appearance (whether hair is neat, combed, ironed, shaved, buttoned, etc.)
  • benevolent attitude to the addressee (a smile, affability, simplicity in addressing, etc.);
  • competence;
  • sincerity, and if the listener trusts the speaker, he/she perceives and remembers the conclusions very well and practically does not pay attention to the course of reasoning. If he has less trust, he has a cooler attitude toward the conclusions, but he is very attentive to the arguments and the course of reasoning.

Communication barrier “avoidance” 1.2.2.

A person avoids sources of influence, and avoids contact with the person he or she is talking to. If avoidance is not possible, he makes every effort not to perceive the message (not paying attention, not listening, not looking at the interlocutor, using any pretext to stop the conversation). Sometimes they avoid not only the sources of information, but also certain situations (for example, the desire to close their eyes when watching “scary places” from horror movies).

So how to overcome this barrier? It has been found that most often the barrier is due to some degree of inattention. Therefore, only by managing the attention of the interlocutor, the audience, can this barrier be overcome. The main thing is to solve two interrelated problems:

  1. attract attention;
  2. to keep attention.

Our attention is most influenced by the following factors: the relevance and importance of the information, its novelty, non-standard presentation, surprise, intensity of the information, the soundness of the voice and its modulation.

Attract attention is possible by using three basic techniques. These include:

  • reception of a “neutral phrase”. At the beginning of a speech, a phrase is said that is not directly related to the main subject, but certainly for some reason has meaning, significance, value for the interlocutor or for all present (where are you from, the last movie you saw, a television program, a book you read, hobbies, etc.);
  • the “enticement” technique. The speaker says something that is difficult to perceive, for example, speaks very quietly, monotonously or illegibly, and the listener has to make a special effort to understand something. This effort implies concentration of attention. As a result, the speaker “draws” the listener into his or her “net. In other words, the speaker provokes the listener to apply the methods of concentration himself/herself, and then he/she uses them;
  • the technique of eye contact. The speaker looks around the audience, looks intently at someone, selects several people in the audience and nods at them, etc.
  • The problem of maintaining attention is no less important It is solved by a number of techniques. The most important of them are the following:
  • the method of “isolation”: when taking the interlocutor aside, secluding himself, closing doors and windows in lecture rooms, making remarks to the speakers. This is why the speaker is more disturbing to the lecturer than the sleeper;
  • the method of “imposing of a rhythm”: constant change of voice and speech characteristics, i.e. speaking louder and more quietly, faster and slower, expressively, “with a pressure”, or vocalized, or neutral, the speaker as if imposes his sequence of attention switching on the interlocutor. This method eliminates the monotony of sound;
  • the method of “accentuation”: the use of various service phrases designed to attract attention, such as “Please pay attention”, “It is important to note that…”, “It is necessary to emphasize that…”, etc.

Communication barrier “miscommunication” 1.2.3.

Often the source of information is trustworthy and authoritative, but the information “doesn’t get there” (we can’t hear, see, or understand it). Why does this happen and how can these problems be solved?

Usually four barriers to misunderstanding are distinguished:

Phonetic (phoneme – sound),

Semantic (semantics – the meaning of words),

Stylistic (stylistics – style of narration, correspondence of form and content),

Phonetic barrier of misunderstanding

Occurs in the following cases:

  • When speaking in a foreign language;
  • use a large number of foreign words or special terminology;
  • When they speak quickly, incomprehensibly and with an accent.
  • To overcome the phonetic barrier, you need:
  • Articulate, intelligible, and loud enough speech, without a shorthand;
  • consideration of the audience and the individual characteristics of people (the worse a person knows the subject, the slower to speak, the more necessary to explain in detail, people of different nationalities speak at different speeds: in the North and in the middle zone – slower, in the South – faster; young children and the elderly do not perceive fast speech, etc.);
  • availability of feedback to the interlocutor, to the audience.

Semantic barrier of misunderstanding

Occurs when phonetically the language is “our”, but in terms of the transmitted meaning is “alien”. This is possible for the following reasons:

  • any word usually has more than one meaning;
  • the “meaning” fields are different for different people;
  • slang words, secret languages, images and examples frequently used in a group are often used (for example, the meaning of the words “feather”, “cabbage”, etc. in thieves’ slang is significantly different from their true meaning).
  • The occurrence of the barrier can be explained as follows: we usually assume that “everyone understands as I do,” while it would be more correct to say the opposite – “everyone understands in his or her own way.
  • In order to overcome the semantic barrier, it is necessary to:
  • speak as simply as possible;
  • to agree in advance about the same understanding of some key words, concepts, terms, if it is necessary to explain them at the beginning of the conversation.

Stylistic barrier of misunderstanding.

Occurs when a person is obliged to understand and reflect in some response or action only that verbal address, which is subordinate to the established grammatical structure. Otherwise, when there is a mismatch between form and content, a stylistic barrier occurs.

In other words, if the style of presentation is too heavy, too lightweight, in general, does not correspond to the content, then the listener does not understand it or refuses, does not want to understand. The main thing in overcoming the stylistic barrier is to properly structure the information conveyed.

There are two basic rules of structuring information in communication: the frame rule and the chain rule.

The frame rule is based on the psychological law of memory operation, discovered by the German psychologist G. Ebbinghaus (this law is often called the “row factor”). Its essence is that the beginning and the end of any information series, no matter what it consists of, is stored in memory better than the middle.

The frame in communication is created by the beginning and the end of the conversation. For efficiency of communication, forthcoming conversation, conversation it is expedient at the beginning to specify the purpose, prospects and supposed results of communication, and at the end of the conversation to summarize, show the retrospective and note the degree of achievement of the goals. And in primary communication the most important part is the beginning, and in repeated business communication – the end of the conversation. In the second case people are not so interested in how the negotiations, conversation passed, as how they ended.

The chain rule is based on the assumption that the content of communication cannot be a shapeless pile of diverse information, it must be somehow lined up, connected in a chain, “listed. Any chain, ordering, connecting, organizing content, like a frame, performs two tasks at once: first, it helps to improve memorization, and second, it helps to structure information in accordance with interlocutor’s expectations.

The following variants of enumeration are possible:

  • simple enumeration – “first, second, third…”;
  • ranking – “first the main thing, now the constituent elements, finally, the less important…”;
  • a logical chain – “if this is that, then we can assume that…, and therefore…”. The logical construction of the message should lead the interlocutor from attention to interest, from interest to main points, from main points to objections and questions, from objections and questions to a conclusion, and from a conclusion to a call to action.

The Barrier of Logical Misunderstanding

Occurs if a person, from our point of view, says or does something in contradiction to the rules of logic. Then we not only refuse to understand him, but also emotionally perceive his words negatively. In doing so, we implicitly assume that there is only one correct logic, that is, ours.

Every person thinks, lives and acts according to his own logic, but in communication, if only these logics are not correlated or if a person does not have a clear idea of his partner’s logic, a barrier of logical incomprehension arises.

  • It is possible to overcome the logical barrier if the following conditions are met:
  • Consideration of the logic and life position of the interlocutor. For this purpose it is necessary to imagine approximately the position of the partner, interlocutor (who he is, what positions he stands on, etc.), and also individual and social-role features, as acceptability or unacceptability of this or that logic for the partner basically depends on his initial orientation;
  • proper reasoning.

Thus, barriers in communication are not the result of conscious, arbitrary and directed protection against the impact of information. Their action is contradictory.

The system of barriers is like an automated security system: when a security alarm goes off, it automatically closes off the approaches to the person; otherwise the human brain and psyche could be traumatized by the content or volume of information.

However, sometimes barriers also play a negative role. For example, heavily stated but necessary information is not perceived or is perceived with distortions, incompletely. A person who knows the solution, but has no authority may not be heard. To resolve this contradiction, it is possible to know the socio-psychological characteristics of the barriers listed, and how to overcome them.

Communication barriers

Barriers to communication are called obstacles to effective communication, which are caused by natural, social and psychological factors that arise in the process of communication.

People are elements of communication, they are complex and sensitive “recipients” of information, with desires and feelings, life experiences. The information they receive is capable of eliciting a variety of internal reactions that amplify, distort or completely block the information sent to them.

The correct perception of information depends largely on communication barriers, which may be present or absent. If a barrier appears, then the information is distorted or loses its original meaning, and in some cases the recipient does not receive it at all. Communication barriers make more psychological distance between partners, can reduce the level of mutual understanding, mutual trust and, as a result, the effectiveness of the communication process.

Classification of communication barriers

The first general principle of communication states that it is impossible to achieve effective communication because of the barrier of subjective interpretation of the meaning of information. This barrier appears because all messages received pass through the personal experience of the communication partner, his education, background, knowledge, inclinations, prejudices, hopes, fears, likes and dislikes, desires and expectations at the time of the transfer of information. As a result, the person hears not what was said, but what he thinks was said. The person who was trying to convey information believes that if he has a good idea of what he wants to say and communicates it to others, his words will be understood by the recipient with the same meaning that he put into them. In order to break down this barrier, it is necessary to continually clarify how the other person understood the meaning of what was said.

The second general principle of communication states that the barrier to communication is often the psychological phenomenon of the communicator’s own perception and attitude. If the communicator causes a feeling of distrust or dislike, it will be transmitted to the information he is communicating. In this case, the information will not be perceived as meaningful. The communicator’s authority in the eyes of the partner plays an important role in the emergence of the barrier. If authority is high, there will be fewer barriers to successful communication and assimilation of information, and vice versa, low authority causes reluctance to listen to his opinion.

In addition to those barriers that have already been named, other barriers can be found in the literature on business communication.

Barriers of socio-cultural difference

Barriers of socio-cultural difference between communication partners. Due to the existence of social, political, religious, and professional differences, the interpretation of different concepts and ideas in the communicated message may differ.

Barriers of misunderstanding

Barriers of misunderstanding arise in situations where the information the communicator was trying to convey has been misinterpreted for some reason. They consist of phonetic, stylistic, semantic, and logical barriers.

Phonetic barrier.

It is related to speech deficiencies, which include:

  • Too quiet speech, which is caused by a combination of excitement and improper breathing. Such speech is already hard to hear at a distance of several meters. If a message from such a communicator is not important to the interlocutor, he will not even try to listen. But even in the case where the communication partner is interested, the probability that the information will be misunderstood is quite high;
  • too fast speech. The rapid pace of speech impedes the possibility of following the speaker’s thoughts, this is especially noticeable if he or she is reading a text;
  • Very monotone speech, which makes you sleepy;
  • noticeable pauses (“uh, uh,” “well,” “known”);
  • word swallowing. If your voice falters toward the end of a sentence, listeners will have to listen especially hard because they have difficulty hearing every word. This naturally increases the risk of error.

Semantic Barrier.

This barrier refers to the different systems of meanings of concepts and terms (thesauruses) of the participants of communication. It is only possible to exchange information qualitatively if the partners speak the same “language”. The level of understanding is influenced by social, age, political, cultural and other differences. Most often, misunderstandings arise due to the fact that the same word is interpreted from different points of view, there are disputes that have no objective basis, which are associated with different understandings of the meanings. To be sure of this, you can ask several people what an idealist is. Some will answer that it is a person with ideals, while others will say that he is a supporter of idealism. In this case, both definitions are true. Words are polysemous, and the thesauruses of the participants of communication are different. It is always necessary to clarify with what meaning the interlocutor uses a term.

Stylistic barrier.

He is able to destroy the normal interpersonal communication. It appears when the style of speech of the communicator does not correspond to the situation of communication or the style of speech and the current psychological state of the communication partner. Thus, a scientific style of speech is inappropriate in a working audience, or formal business style of speech in a situation of confidential conversation.

Logical barrier

This barrier of misunderstanding occurs when the logic of reasoning that the communicator offers seems wrong to his communication partner, contradicts the manner of evidence to which he is used to, or is too complex for him. In psychological terms, it can be argued that there are many logics and logical systems of evidence. There are “masculine” and “feminine” logics. “Male” logic most often coincides with formal logic, which Aristotle introduced, while “female” logic has differences from formal logic, but is logical in its own way. Studies of female logic have just begun in psychology. For further study of it, you can read the work of D.V. Beklemishev “Notes on female logic”.

Psychological barriers of interpersonal communication proper.

These include all conscious and unconscious difficulties and obstacles that arise between individuals who come into psychological contact with each other. In this situation, it should be noted that these obstacles and difficulties are sometimes realized and sometimes not realized by the communication participants themselves. The degree and nature of their awareness also varies.

Relationship barriers

Relationship barriers are a psychological phenomenon that appears between the participants in the course of communication. This can be a feeling of dislike and distrust of the partner himself/herself, which also extends to the information he/she transmits. When partners are friendly and sympathetic toward each other, there are no relationship barriers, and misunderstanding can always be overcome. People tend to trust more the information that comes from the people they like.

The Barrier of Negative Emotions

Emotions are a person’s subjective reaction to the effects of internal and external stimuli, manifested as pleasure and displeasure, daring impulse, fear, interest… Not all emotions are barriers to communication, but there are emotions that result. Emotional barriers result from persistent negative emotions. Such emotions include misery, anger, disgust, contempt, fear, shame, guilt, and bad moods in general. According to these emotions, personal barriers to negative emotions can be identified. These include the following barriers.

The barrier of suffering.

This barrier to communication is usually caused by tragic events, physical pain, severely diminished self-esteem, dissatisfaction with one’s social status, etc. The result is a decrease in both the level of sociability of the person who is experiencing suffering and those who come in contact with him or her.

Anger Barrier.

This barrier is particularly difficult to overcome because anger causes actions that interfere with normal communication, insults, etc. Anger is capable of doubling physical and mental energy: the stronger it is, the more actively a person uses it in words or aggressive actions.

Barrier of disgust and squeamishness

This barrier appears due to violations of simple norms of ethical behavior by other people or due to a “hygienic rejection” of the other person. It should be noted that others quickly stop paying attention to physical defects, but this does not work in relation to hygienic deviations. It is this deviation that they are unable to deal with, so they remember it for a long time, which entails a firm barrier to communication.

Barrier of disdain.

It is similar to the barrier of disgust. It tends to limit contact with a person who evokes negative emotions. Most often, contempt is aroused by a person’s immoral behavior, prejudices, negative traits (cowardice, avarice), betrayal, etc.

The fear barrier

This barrier can be called one of the most difficult barriers to overcome in human communication. With a person who acts as a source of fear, no way you do not want to contact: all sorts of avoidance, trying not to be alone with him, not to meet him, not to see him.

Barrier of shame and guilt

This barrier appears when one realizes the inappropriateness of the event as a reaction to criticism, excessive praise, flattery, courting, for fear of seeming awkward or being noticed performing an action, or from the consciousness of deep guilt before someone else, etc. In such situations, people blush, their voice changes, they look away from their communication partner, or they lower their gaze and try to avoid contact.

The barrier of bad moods

A bad mood is often a source of conflict. Such an emotional state influences the partner and interferes with his or her desire to communicate. Bulgarian psychologist F. Genov studied the causes of work conflicts. He found the following:

  • The level of emotional equilibrium in people who are engaged in administrative work is much lower than the statistical average, and decreases even more with age;
  • a bad mood of a manager greatly worsens the mood of his subordinates.

Emotional barriers also appear when, when receiving information from a communicator, one is more concerned with one’s feelings and assumptions than with the actual facts. Words have a powerful emotional charge, they cause associations, which entail an emotional reaction, even talk about the energy of the word. To overcome this barrier there are several psychological techniques, one of which is called “Calm Presence. It was presented in the work of N. Kozlov’s “Formula for Success.” It represents a view of a situation that is cleared of emotions, ambitions, and biases, when a person sees what is in front of him and hears what is being said.

It is important not only to know the basic barriers to communication, but also to learn how to successfully overcome them.

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