Barriers to Effective Communication

What is Effective Communication?

Effective communication is a two-way process of sharing and receiving information through verbal and non-verbal means. since an effective communication objective can be achieved only when both sender and receiver have achieved their goals and created a mutual understanding with each other.

What is Effective Communication?
What is Effective Communication?

Communication is directly influenced by the ability to articulate issues concisely and convey them to receivers in words and phrases they are familiar with so as to persuade them to the intended course of action.

Barriers to Effective Communication

Barriers to effective communication refer to those obstacles or problems that arise at different stages of the communication process. Communicating can be more of a challenge than people think. There can be many things that can stand in the way of effective communication.

Barriers to Effective Communication
Barriers to Effective Communication

As mentioned above, effective communication is a two-way process but there are a number of factors that may disrupt effective communication and affect the overall interpretation and understanding of what was communicated.

A number of problems can arise at different stages of the communication process. These can relate to any of the elements involved. It is therefore important to understand some of the factors that affect communication so that a message can be sent across with minimal misunderstanding and confusion.

Barriers to Effective Communication

The factors which can act as barriers to effective communication process are discussed below:

Semantic Barriers

The problem arising from the expression or transmission of meaning are called semantic barriers. Semantic refers to the systematic study of the meaning of words and signs. Simplicity, clarity, and brevity reduce semantic barriers to communication.

The following are the semantic barriers to communication:

Use of language: Poor choice of words or weak sentence structure also hampers communication. The same goes for inappropriate punctuation.

Words with different meanings: Communication is mainly carried through spoken and written words. But some words convey different meanings to different people. People interpret the same words differently due to differences in their economics.

Badly expressed message: When the message is not formulated and presented in the proper manner, the receiver fails to comprehend it and misunderstanding occurs.

Psychological Barriers

Psychological barriers to communication involve people‘s emotions perceptions and selectivity. Psychological barriers are also referred to as emotional barriers, emotional barriers play an important role in the communication of a message.

Following are the emotional barriers to communication:

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.

Non-attention: When the receiver is preoccupied with some important work he/she does not listen to the message attentively. this behavior of non-listening is one of the major psychological barriers.

Different comprehension of reality: Reality is not an absolute concept; it is relative to different persons. As a result, our abstractions, inferences, and evaluations are different.

Cultural differences: People coming from different cultural backgrounds have different references for understanding the same message; therefore, there may not be clarity in understanding.

Organizational Barriers

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:

Organizational policy: Organizational policies determine the relationship among all the persons working in the enterprise.

Organizational rules and regulations: Organizational rules become barriers in communication by determining the subject matter, medium, etc. of communication.

Status relationships: In organizations, all the employees are divided into many categories on the basis of their level. The sender and receiver of a message may or may not be of equal status within a hierarchy. This formal division acts as a barrier in communication especially when the communication moves from the bottom to the top.

Organizational facilities: Organizational facilities mean making available sufficient stationery, telephone, translator, etc. When these facilities are sufficient in an organization, the communication will be timely, clear, and in accordance with the necessity.

Personal Barriers

The barriers that are directly connected with the sender and the receiver are called personal barriers. From the point of view of convenience, they have been divided into two parts:

Barriers in Superiors

Some barriers in communication may arise from the superior‘s side because of hierarchical relationships with subordinates. These barriers are:

Attitudes of superiors: The attitude of superiors towards communication in general, or in any particular direction affects the flow of messages in different directions.

Fear of challenges to 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.

Lack of confidence in subordinates: Top-level superiors think that the lower-level employees are less capable and, therefore, they ignore the information or suggestions sent by them because of that the self-confidence of the employees is lowered.

Lack of time: Sometimes superiors do not have the time for day-to-day communication and many issues remain pending.

Barriers in Subordinates

It is not only the superior who hampers the smooth communication process, sometimes, but it is also the subordinate, who acts as a hindrance to effective organizational communication.

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. Thus, the subordinates, by not clarifying the facts, become a hindrance in communication

Lack of proper incentive: Lack of incentive to the subordinates creates a hindrance in communication. The subordinates may think that their suggestions or ideas are not given any importance.

Physical Barriers

Physical impediments include hearing disabilities, poor acoustics, and noisy surroundings. It is also difficult to listen if you are ill, tired, or uncomfortable. You cannot listen if you cannot hear what is being said.

Following are the physical barriers to communication:

Noise: The word noise is used to refer to all kinds of physical interference like poor handwriting, a weak telephonic network, etc. different types of noises that can hamper communication are:

  • Physical noise
  • Technical noise
  • Social noise
  • Psychological noise

Time and Distance: Time and distance also act as barriers to communication. Sometimes mechanical breakdowns render communication facilities ineffective.

Selection of Communication Channels: Before choosing a communication channel, it should be seen whether the channel is appropriate for a particular purpose and the person/receiver the sender has in mind.

Lack of Feedback: Feedback is important as it enables confirmation of understanding to be made by both parties. The process of communication is not said to be complete until there is feedback.

How to Overcome Barriers to Communication

Following are some of the measures of How to Overcome Barriers to Communication:

Listen Actively

The listener should attempt active listening. This means paying close attention to the speaker’s words not merely hearing what the speaker has to say but interpreting it from the speaker’s point of view as well.

Use Clear, Straightforward Language

By using clear and straightforward language, you are preventing needless confusion and misinterpretation. Avoid using idioms, slang, and other languages that may be misinterpreted.

Raise Speech Volume

The speaker can raise her voice if she believes the listener cannot hear her well.

Eliminate or Reduce Noise

Detect the source of the noise. If it is possible to eliminate the noise, consider whether its removal is practical. For example, the speakers can reduce outside noises by closing the windows or moving toward an inner area of the building.


The importance of feedback in any process of communication can hardly be overemphasized. Seek out feedback on your speeches and presentations from friends, family members, colleagues, well-wishers, participants, organizers, and even critics. In fact, more than praise, it is constructive criticism that really helps in overcoming deficiencies. A good speaker takes the feedback seriously and makes a conscious effort to improvise and refine content and delivery.

Choice of Communication Channels

choosing the proper channel of communication for effective communication is important if one wants quick feedback from the receiver, the sender needs to select appropriate communication channels considering the message and the receiver’s state of mind.


Anyone wishing to be a good communicator should make it a point to observe the other speakers closely their postures and gestures, choice of words and use of language, voice modulations, examples and stories, pauses and punches, their beginning and closing, and so on.


What is Effective Communication?

Effective communication is a two-way process of sharing and receiving information through verbal and non-verbal means.

What are the barriers to effective communication?

5 Barriers to Effective Communication:
1. Semantic Barriers
2. Psychological Barriers
3. Organizational Barriers
4. Personal Barriers
5. Physical Barriers

What are the semantic barriers to effective communication?

The problem arising from the expression or transmission of meaning are called semantic barriers. The following are the semantic barriers to communication:
1. Use of language
2. Words with different meanings
3. Badly expressed message

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