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Barriers to Effective Communication in Organisations

Paper Type: Free Assignment Study Level: University / Undergraduate
Wordcount: 3230 words Published: 17th Nov 2020

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There are many aspects of my writing which I ought to improve to receive a better grade in my work, for example in my reflective essay the introduction was very weak. It was brief and I had not gone into much detail, I should have expanded on issues the hotel was facing, discuss the hotel and reflect on my team experience in more detail and add more theories to support my claims. My writing in the essay needed more theory, what it lacked the most was my ability to link the theory effectively to the ideas. During my essay, the 5 stages of group development was mentioned, in order for this to be better, I must link how each stage was experienced during my group work. Thus, when writing my essay it is important that there is a clear example to support each theory I apply.

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Using the tutor feedback, I identified another aspect of writing that needed to be improved. I could have improved my analysis by completing an in depth analysis of my feelings and thoughts through the reflective work using the Gibbs model. A key weakness was that the topics and points throughout the essay were very brief without going into much detail and analysing skills. This note will help me to prepare for my next assignments, because now I understand that my analytical skills need to be shown more in-depth in order for me to improve.

My conclusion in my reflection wasn’t in much detail as I had not expanded on any specific action that I could take in to ensure my next experiences with griuo work. I could raise any concerns I have to from the beginning to ensure that I open a door of direct communication between my team and I. While reflecting, I found that the problems or issues faced within the group were due to a lack of communication and letting issues fester for too long. I could take an official role as a leader or make sure that we have one so everyone has a clear understanding of what is going on, instead of arguing and having no direction. This will help the group to work more efficiently.

In order to improve for my next essay, it is important that I use references both intext and bibliography, I did not to use academic sources, so I can get better by doing more research and literature reading so that I can be more  able to write a deeper analysis of a topic.

Essay Plan

Introduction; I will be discussing different barriers which can affect communication. Communication, this is the process in which people exchange information with one and another using different mediums that can be verbal or non-verbal. Communication cycle this theory proposed by Argyle, who believed communication is an interpersonal skill that one can learn the theory which sets out to understand and explain, predict how communication occurs between people in one-to-one situations. I will be discussing the importance of communication in organisation, different organisation and how they communicate with each other, why is it essential for organisation to communicate effectively. The barriers which affect why individuals don’t not communicate effectively and the reason for this barrier. Different examples of ineffective communication in organizations why they are ineffective methods of communication, relating it to communication theories.  Also provide examples in ways manger can ensure that there is effective communication within organisation.             

Paragraph 1-We communicate through different mediums Face-to-Face Communication or even through technology such as text and email and written communication. There are theories such as Laswell Five Ws which if followed correctly is effective methods of communication. Barriers which can affect communication mention such as environmental e.g. noise.

Paragraph 2- discussing the importance of written communication and how there are barriers in written communication for example letter sent to colleagues is proofread so there are less chances for silly mistakes. Using the communication cycle how each stage is important why written communication can hinder a person understanding of message.

Paragraph 3- Talk about how culture is barrier of communication for example the use of direct versus indirect in western cultures seems acceptable to have direct methods of communications whereas in non-western culture it is not. Using example from HBR.

Paragraph 4 -Discuss how language is barrier of communication when doing international business, as lack of fluency can hinder effective communication it is important that both individual understand the message the other one is trying to say. An example is HBR when Korean would speak in Korean instead of English.

Paragraph 5- Discussing how our lives have become based in using ICT, which is information, communication and technology. For example, we used devices such as laptops and smartphones. It is form communication technology allowing us to communicate by phone using text and email. Also helps us manage information like calendars, or access our information using the internet. Using theory such as Suler suggest that natural as it gives people time to think of their answers.

Paragraph 6- Organisational structure is barrier of communication as many large corruptions have thousands of employees, therefore having a long communication chain can lead to distorted interpretations of the message when it reaches the last person

Conclusion; How to overcome these barriers


This essay will be discussing the main barriers which can affect communication within organisations, the importance of communication, how different organisations communicate with each other, and why is it essential to communicate effectively. Communication is a process in which people exchange information with one another using different mediums (ThoughtCo, 2019).There are two main ways to categorise communication, non-verbal and verbal. Non-verbal communication includes: facial expressions, eye contact, gestures and movements. Written word and oral exchanges are the most commonly used forms of communication within organisations. There are many barriers that lead to ineffective communication, such as the physical, psychological, cultural differences and varying perception of reality. These will be explored in detail.

Communication is essential in business because it helps business attain the gaols they put forth. Effective communication helps to nurture good working relationship between employees and their superiors, improves productivity and morale within organisations

Oral, the most common type of communication within organisations, is usually face to face and the speaker and listener are both physically in one place. In oral exchanges, ineffective communication can be caused by several reasons. For example, on a construction site, a manager will give an order to their employees, but due to environmental distractions (e.g. noise), the message received can be distorted  This can be prevented by using Laswell’s five-level of communication, which when followed correctly, is an effective method of communication. It is referred to as the ‘Five Ws’; who should be told, why should they be told, what they should be told, where they should be and who should have control of the communication process. (Communication Theory, 2019) In order to overcome barriers such as noise, it is essential that individuals determine the best environment ‘where they should be told’ because this has an impact on how they will receive the message. Also ‘who should control communication’ is an important part of effective communication within an organisation, particularly the relationship of a manager and direct reports. It is important when setting tasks to employees, that the manager should deliver it to them directly so that misinterpretation of the workload is prevented.

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Moreover, written communication is a frequent type of communication which is used within organisations, through letters, text or email. Ineffective communication can be by missing words, grammatical or spelling errors in letters or emails. Therefore, the reader may not understand the message, which can make can lead to people feeling frustrated and annoyed with the sender and interpret their actions as carelessness; believing they have not taken the time to communicate clearly. Ensuring that all emails and letters sent out have been thoroughly proof-read can prevent relationships between colleagues becoming damaged. The communication cycle described can be characterised into six stages, described in the Michael Argyle theory. Stage one: an individual thinks of an idea. Stage two, they think of a way to word this message, this stage can cause ineffective communication if an individual has difficulty expressing their thoughts. This may be prevented by face to communication because they can adapt their language immediately. Stage three, the message is said to another individual.  Stage four, at that point the message is acknowledged. Stage five, the individual who has the message attempts to decode it e.g. when an individual is not concentrating the message can become distorted when someone mishears a vital word in the sender speech and therefore will not be able to communicate effectively; Stage six, lastly the message is understood by the receiver e.g. body language and immediate response is how the sender will be able to know they have understood the message however when they use telecommunication it is not possible for the sender to be able to know whether they understood the message which can hinder effective communication. In this communication cycle, the barriers towards effective communication feature significantly in the last two stages, Argyle declared that interpersonal interaction is an ability that could be learned (King, D. and Lawley,S, 2019). Therefore, if organisations have trainings so that there is an agreement on the communication styles, communication can become more effective.

Furthermore, culture can also be a barrier of communication, as people’s awareness of cultural differences can affect the communication flow between individuals especially in an organisation where there is a lot of diversity. A Harvard Business article focussed on managing multicultural teams  states that cultural preferences can dictate the directness of communication. In western culture, direct communication is preferred, this means that non-westerners are easily able to understand messages. On the other hand, westerners have difficulty understanding other cultures that may communicate in a more indirect manner. The example used in the article highlighted how an American manager leading a project in Japan had difficulties working with Japanese colleagues. For example, the Japanese workers would say “yes” as a signal to illustrate that they were paying attention to what she had to say. Nevertheless, the manager would interpret this as agreement. This direct and indirect methods of communication had led to a strain in the professional relationship as she believed the difference in their communication caused disruptions and disturbances to project operations. She pointed out the cultural differences to her manager, and as a result,  her Japanese colleagues were being offended. This cultural practice of reporting to senior management was out their norm. This case study shows that culture has a real influence on how we communicate effectively as an American manager said she felt ‘isolated physically and socially ‘by her team. This hinders effective teamwork because individuals are unable to communicate when there are tension and unresolved issues (Brett, Behfar and Kern, 2019)

Similarly, another important barrier to effective communication is language, both in the form of accent and fluency. As English is the most common language used in business to communicate, it can be difficult when someone is not fluent and is unable to understand and grasp what is being said. In business, people will tend to be overlooked, despite having superior qualifications, if their fluency of speech is not up to par.  Lack of fluency in speech can be interpreted as an unwillingness to try to communicate effectively. Also, an organisation cannot fully utilise everyone’s potential knowledge, if there are team members that have an accent that is difficult to understand or are less able to articulate their points because they lack fluency. This can be prevented using technology such as translation apps. Furthermore, to improve communication between those with different language backgrounds, it is important that people always speak in the language that they are everyone can speak and understand. The Harvard Business Review article mentioned previously, cited an incident where a group from the USA and Latin American were negotiating a business deal with the Koreans. Everyone was speaking in English, but the Koreans would often start speaking in Korean. This was perceived as offensive by the other parties involved and they decided to retaliate by discussing current events in Spanish. This was a foreign language to the Koreans, and this indirectly communicated to the Koreans that their behaviour was not appreciated. This situation illustrates how the use of language can also have negative and positive connotations and the importance of being mindful of the circumstances.  (Brett, Behfar and Kern, 2019)

Unlike a few decades ago, the current culture is fully entrenched in the use of ICT, which is information, communication and technology. This included devices such as laptops and smartphones. This form of technology allows communication to occur by phone using text and email. It also is used to manage information in calendars, or access information using the internet. Technology can be a barrier to effective communication because exchanges can be interpreted differently depending on how they interact; face to face or through emails and text. The online disinhibition theory suggests that individuals will regulate their behaviour online and can have more restraint then they would face to face, hence someone’s full character cannot be seen. (Suler, J. (2004). The asynchronous nature of online communication allows people the time to think of their reply and answer when they are ready, whereas face to face communication does not afford the luxury of pondering answers. This can improve communication because people are more able to think about what they want to say, nevertheless, it prevents individuals from building relationships which may lead to ineffective communication.

Additionally, another barrier which can lead to ineffective communication is an organisational structure of companies. As many companies have complex style it can lead to ineffective communication. When companies are extremely large, employees may not all see each other or are unable to communicate directly. In addition, communication can become ineffective, when the chain of communication is very long. This is very common in large corporations with thousands of employees. Often messages will be passed on so many times, each time the original meaning can be lost, and the last person may not receive the whole message. An example can be when Yahoo CEO sent an internal memo which implied if everyone who works doesn’t not do it from the offices, they should resign. This was received negatively by employees, however the initial intention was too boost moral as HR manger said, ‘you can feel the buzz in the office’. This shows how having a large business it is important that you make your message clear so when it is pass on to others, they are all able to come to the same conclusion. (Grossman, 2019)

Also another barrier is informal communication within organisations such as ‘grapevine’ this is a term used often, and the practice of this phenomena can hinder effective communication within organisations because negative opinions may reach individuals that were not the intended recipient. This can stop individual from communicating with a colleague because they believe they have not be honest or are hiding something from them. This limits communication between colleague limits workplace productivity. In order over this barrier is to have ethical guideline and policy in place to limit gossip and rumours.

Overall there are many barriers which lead to ineffective communication within organizations. One area discussed is written communication how it can lead to individuals not understanding clearly what the message is trying to say. In order to avoid this written communication needs to be checked thoroughly so that the receiver understands the message that is being sent. Also, culture can be a barrier of communication as cultural differences become apparent. Western culture uses a more direct method whereas non-western culture uses indirect methods of communication, in order for an organisation to overcome they need to be aware of these differences. In addition, other cultural barriers discuss is language, making sure that everyone has a common language which they can communicate with is essential. Technology can be a barrier of communication as you are not aware whether the person has understood the message you were trying to say and as you are not able to see their response through facial expressions or their body language. Furthermore, the essay highlights how organizational structure can lead to barriers of communication as the larger the chain of communication the more likely the message being sent can be lost and therefore misinterpreted. It is important that CEO and managers are aware of this and send messages with no room for a different interpretation. Also, the ‘grapevine’ can cause mixed messages to be received by people, therefore this can hinder effective communication within organisations. To conclude there are numerous reasons for ineffective communication, but a strong culture and clear corporate policies can prevent them from hindering work activities.


  • King, D. and Lawley,S. (2019). Organizational Behaviour (3 ed.). Oxford: Oxford Universty Press.
  • Suler, J. (2004). The online disinhibition effect. Cyberpsychology & behavior,7(3), 321-326.
  • Grossman, D. (2019). Yahoo poorly communicates new “in office” policy to employees. [online] Yourthoughtpartner.com. Available at: https://www.yourthoughtpartner.com/blog/bid/57809/Yahoo-poorly-communicates-new-in-office-policy-to-employees [Accessed 10 Dec. 2019].
  • Brett, J., Behfar, K. and Kern, M. (2019). Managing Multicultural Teams. [online] Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/2006/11/managing-multicultural-teams [Accessed 10 Dec. 2019].
  • Communication Theory. (2019). Lasswell's model. [online] Available at: https://www.communicationtheory.org/lasswells-model/ [Accessed 10 Dec. 2019].
  • ThoughtCo. (2019). Learn the Art of Communication and See How It's Used Effectively. [online] Available at: https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-communication-1689877 [Accessed 10 Dec. 2019].


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