Five strategies to overcome communication barriers at work

(Last Updated On: January 19, 2023)

Communication is how the world progresses, and it has been crucial for the survival of our species.

It may be one of the basic human skills, but the importance of communication cannot be over-emphasised.

It strengthens our dealings with people and helps us build rapport with them. Through communication, we even learn from older generations and apply their knowledge.

When you create and pass meaningful messages from one person to another, you can be said to be communicating.

Communication can be done through various means, and it can be in the form of oral or verbal communication, mainly speech or non-verbal communication, which includes body language, signs, gestures, writings, and graphics.

Because communication and civil discourse are crucial, how we do it matters.

Issues arising from ineffective communication can greatly affect our lives.

Therefore, overcoming any obstacle hindering us from effectively communicating our message, feelings, or thoughts is important.

Many of our day-to-day activities rely heavily on effective communication, from simple greetings and waving to a friend at the end of the street to telling the waiter how you like your coffee or discussing with your colleague at work.

The process would be much easier if we understood civil discourse definition and dialogue.

So you see, it is important to ensure that no barriers prevent our messages from reaching the recipient the way we intend.

Communication barriers can lead to our messages being misunderstood or misinterpreted.

Miscommunication is an unpleasant scenario, especially in the workplace, where different people with different backgrounds, ambitions, personalities, plans, and communication styles must interact to achieve organisational goals.

Often these personalities, communication styles, and backgrounds can create a barrier to effective communication in the workplace.

Miscommunication in the workplace can result in job hazards or loss of resources.

Organisations need to take effective communication seriously. Non-prioritisation of effective communication skills in a company can lead to a huge loss of revenue.

Most businesses with at least 100,000 employees reported an average loss of $62.4 million annually due to poor communication between and to employees.

On the other hand, companies record good things when they view effective communication as important and set up measures to realise it.

A CMSWire report shows that more than 95% of employees agree that communication affects their capability to work effectively.

McKinsey also reports that teams that are well connected saw their productivity increase by 20 to 25%.

These surveys clearly show that effective communication is crucial to the development of a company.

To ensure that communication around the company, whether from the organisation to the team or between team members, is effective, removing any barrier hindering effective communication is advisable.

Here are five approaches that can be useful in resolving emotional, physical, or linguistic barriers to communication in the workplace.

 

Create an Open Communication Policy

In many organisations, senior employees or managers operate in a cloud of superiority. It is indirect or ineffective when they give instructions or communicate to fellow employees.

To break this barrier, these companies must create a communication culture that involves training employees to communicate effectively and listen actively.

 

Emphasise On Active Listening

Active listening is an important part of every effective communication training and a necessary tool in civil discourse and dialogue.

Active listening involves listening to what the speaker is saying, comprehending and acknowledging the information shared.

Miscommunication usually occurs when the listener feels that they have understood what the message is when in reality, they haven’t.

This miscommunication can be from either the listener or the speaker.

However, with active listening, the receiver can show that the message has been received by rephrasing the message so that the parties involved agree that the information has been shared effectively.

 

Promote Teamwork

Older employees often create a sort of hierarchy that can hamper the exchange of information in the organisation.

When this hierarchy has greater access to information, the organisation suffers.

To enable easier access to information, this barrier to effective communication caused by the hierarchy of older employees should be struck down by the company, and an atmosphere of teamwork should be created in the workplace.

 

Utilise Effective Communication Channels

We can use various communication channels to convey our messages like email, face-to-face meetings, Zoom meetings, manager-to-group meetings, etc.

Before using any channels to pass information, there are a few things to check, like whether the intended recipients can access the information, whether the channel can retain their full attention, and so on.

 

Dismantle Physical Barriers

To optimise effective communication between team members, the company should set up the work area in a way that doesn’t hinder communication.

This doesn’t mean that the company has an open area. Still, removing some physical structures that reduce access to communication, like high cubicle walls, is important.

 

Final Thoughts

Ensuring effective communication in the workplace has been shown to improve productivity and positively impact employees.

So, no doubt, creating an open communication policy, promoting teamwork, dismantling physical barriers, and other approaches will help limit communication breakdown in the workplace if properly implemented.

 

Nicholas Mushayi is a consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd

 

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