Effective communication is essential for both personal and organizational success. Unfortunately, many barriers to effective communication exist in the workplace. This article looks to identify some of the most common barriers of communication that exist in places of work. It does, in a limited way, suggest ways some of the hindrances to better communication can be removed.
Most people take communication between individuals for granted. Afterall, we have been doing it from the first days of our birth. But the office or workplace has certain dynamics that often create effective barriers of communication.
Communication at the most basic level is one of the simplest of actions. It is the barriers that often people create between people that stand in the way. With that said, let's look at the most common barriers of communication in the workplace.
It might be surprising to some that there are physical barriers to communication at the workplace. This could be the manner in which the office is laid out in space as well as hindrances like cupboards or screens that prevent people from making eye contact.
There could be barriers that are put up to organize the workforce into groups or hierarchies as well.
Research has shown that when people are in close proximity to each other, they tend to communicate more effectively and naturally. So, the right step toward rectifying this situation in a workspace is to remove physical barriers to people getting closer to each other.
Perceptual barriers refer to the different doctrines and dogmas that people often harbour within themselves. This would be more evident in a multicultural set up than otherwise. These are best to be seen as cultural barriers that can be overcome.
The right step to break down perceptual barriers is to cause maximum interaction between groups of people in the same organization. This could be done by having family get togethers and such gathering which is bound to break down the walls. Once people understand that basically all humans have issues with each other; this could be the first step to establishing better lines of communication between each other.
One of the main reasons people have emotional barriers is because they have uncontrolled fear, suspicion and mistrust of other people. Often the root causes of the emotions as described here could be childhood upbringing that forced people to behave in a particular way toward another.
The solution to overcoming emotional barriers is to bring each person to see the other as a fellow human being. At heart all humans have a common bondage that simply cannot be broken. That is what needs to be stressed at this point.
The root cause of cultural barriers in life and in the workplace is the manner people had their early formative years. Certain views and patterns of thinking gets ingrained in each individual. This is most commonly manifested as groupism within an office.
A widely travelled person is bound to display the least of cultural barriers. The solution is to get workers of an office to travel as much as possible, at least during the holidays and off-season. Facilities like concessional travel only facilitate this process.
In large countries, there would often be more than a single language used to communicate daily. The differences in people’s first language can create communication barriers in people. People often mistake this for chauvinism but at the heart of it is the language and cultural barrier that is working.
The senior staff members in an office can effectively coordinate to break down language barriers by using just the appropriate language to communicate official messages. People are then bound to follow the lead set by the seniors and thus bring down the language barrier.
All people irrespective of their upbring, would display some sort of gender bias at the office or work space. So, people of the opposite gender are not encouraged to interact with each other. More over this gender discrimination, if you may call it, would saturate to the highest levels of the organization.
One of the positive steps that the management of any company can take toward a gender-neutral workplace is to have a blend of the sexes right through the hierarchy of the company. Thus, it would not be seen as strange that women should occupy some spaces and men the others.
When people start working in an office, the first thing that they must do is to break down barriers that are already existing among them. This can be done in various ways as has been outlined in the article above. But more importantly, in a multicultural workspace, everyone needs to give the other the space.
Despite the best efforts by management, it is seen that a certain bit of communication barrier does exist even in the most proactive of workplaces. This is best to be viewed as being diverse than to attribute it to barriers in communication.