Whilst we are taking responsibility for our relationships and being response-able through our communication with others, it is also helpful to be mindful of some of the common communication barriers that we may bump into from time to time. When we effectively communicate we overcome barriers and send clear messages.Here are some things for you to think about.
The use of language
Jargon only ever works when absolutely everyone in the conversation understands it - so the solution is to leave it out wherever possible. Equally, different interpretations of words can seriously affect the meaning of a statement and ultimately the overall understanding in a conversation. Colloquialisms are okay amongst a group of friends who grew up in the same place but not so in a group of colleagues who might be from different parts of the world. For example, growing up in Yorkshire, we go would to the shop for ‘some spice’ meaning sweets which might be candy to someone from America! We would also say that something was ‘right cracking’ meaning ‘very good’ - not easily translatable in any language!
Your or their skills
A lack of skills can lead to misunderstanding, confusion, as well as time wasting and not achieving required outcomes - poor listening and/or inability to ask the most appropriate type of question seriously undermines effective communication.
Lacking the ability to concentrate on what is being said or to pay full attention to the speaker means a lot of good communication is lost. One of the reasons for this might be the inability to find a way to be interested in the other persons contribution. Finally how able you are at managing your emotions is also another potential barrier. People who cannot think clearly because they are upset or angry are not communicating at their best at that point in time.
Points of view
Different viewpoints that are not explained, explored and understood will get in the way of effective communication. As soon as you are aware of differences, being interested enough to find out why they may think differently to you is a great starting point.
A lack of skills, interest and differing perceptions may lead to the barrier of...
Expectations that are not explained, explored and understood often lead to assumptions about what someone else wants or believing that they have understood exactly what you want, only to find out later that is not the case. Any personal prejudices that you or the other person has may lead to false assumptions about what the other person might, believe, think, or say so you don’t really listen and miss reaching the correct conclusion.
Where you communicate
The physical environment that we are communicating in can create literal barriers such as not being able to see someones, gestures, facial expression and general body language, or not being able to hear because of poor acoustics or a noise from the next room. These barriers interfere with our ability to communicate effectively.
Different cultures, different ways
We have all been on holiday to a country for the first time and noticed they do things differently. Our business world gets more global every day. The mix of people in organisations means we have the opportunity to work with a whole range of people from different cultures. Taking time to understand different cultural norms of how people interact such as handshaking, cheek kissing, how close is considered comfortable to stand near someone etc. can ensure no misunderstand or embarrassment.
Upfront awareness of potential barriers allows us to spot them as they are introducing themselves into our communication. We are then able to move around, under or over them. As we reflect on what went well, what went less well and the reasons for all of this, acknowledgement of any barrier and an action plan to address it may give us the opportunity to eliminate them completely.
One personal barrier that you may want to think about is stress and how that impacts on the quality of our communication and therefore on our relationships. We will take a look at this in our next instalment “Taking the Stress out of Communication”.
Download our Listening Skills assessment on the right to start improving your communication skills today, and contact us for more information on how to develop professional relationships through effective communication.
Denise Campbell, Learning Professional
Passionate about working with leaders and managers who want to contribute significantly in their own area of work and inspire those they work with to deliver the goals they are collectively responsible for.
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