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Communication can be classified or defined as a two way process of reaching mutual understanding in which participants not only exchange information but also share and create meaning in the information which is being sent (BusinessDictionary.com (2013)).Sehgal and Khetarpla (2006;2) Defines it as the ability to convey opinions ,feelings ,body language or signs .Communication is not only concerned with letters or a mere phone call it is mostly concerned the fact that whatever message is sent is clearly understood by both the sender and the receiver of the message where the contents of are clear and not jargon or any technical language, this can be termed as effective communication
It is important to note that there is no substitute to communication thus with this it is essential to note that communication is an important aspect in a business organization and an organisation cannot afford to communicate.
However communication is not always effective at all times, it is not always a smooth process this is because contrary to the major components of the communication process is the existence of barriers that hinder effective communication. A barrier or barriers to communication are those obstacles, situations, conditions or factors that prevent or hinder an effective process of communicating. Lahman and Dufrane (2010). Brounstien, Bell and Smith (2010) define a barrier as anything that prevents your audience from understanding your message as a barrier to effective communication
To start with there are organisational barriers to communication and these are barriers that arise due to the structure of the organization. These barriers arise in an organization due to say distance among employees with respect to their different functional tasks and with respect to their department that may be found within an organization for example the accounting department, sales department and other departments. Departmentalization can be a barrier in that a message should follow a certain route and cannot be passed directly and that can disturb the flow of the message .Hopkins L (2002-2011)
If in an organization there is weak delivery of a message whether the message is coming from top management, departmental or even any employee .As long as this message does not have meaning and punch it is not reach its destination whether it is very important, impressive or even sad it is not understood because of poor delivery . Sehgal and Khetarpla (2006)
Still under organization barriers to communication, organizational barriers may arise due to a distracting environment in which the message is being conveyed in. For example workers are assembled by the directors for a very important announcement were in the process half the employees cannot understand or cannot hear clearly they start talking among themselves and this creates a distraction in the communication process or in the process of receiving the message the employees cell phones keep on ringing during the delivery of the message and this would also cause distractions. (Safari books online (08/10/2013))
In some organizations communication is barred by the fact that the wrong medium to convey the message is used for example a message meant for a department of say maybe 200 plus employees and such a message is sent to one of the employees via email and the assumption is that the message will be conveyed to all, in this case a notice on the notice board would have been more effective. It however is not always the case that message will reach everyone thus use of a wrong medium in the communication process can be a barrier to effective communication. (Hopkin (2002-2011))
All the above mentioned fall under organizational barriers to effective communication and other organizational barriers to communication include passing a message to the wrong audience, sending a mixed message, use of the wrong medium to convey the message
The second classification of barriers to communication is the physical barriers where Sehgal and Khetarpla (2006) referred this to be the channel and media barrier. Effective communication can be disrupted or hindered by the existence of distance within the organization (between sender and receiver) for example in the case where employees are located in different areas of the workplace building were one is in the 2nd floor of the building and the other in the 3rd floor one may be reluctant to pass on the message or were workers are situated at different sites altogether this distance can hinder the process of sending and receiving of messages ( Sehgal and Khetarpla (2006))
Environmental conditions can also act as a physical barrier in communication under this aspect we talk about whether the place where the message is being conveyed is conducive for one to concentrate and clearly receive the message without any distraction, for example in a cold room the message receivers will concentrate on keeping themselves warm rather than that message which is being conveyed to them but because the room is cold they do not receive the message and this becomes a physical barrier to effective communication (TyroCity.com (2013))
Sehgal and Khetarpla (2006; 93) explain that another barrier under physical barriers to effective communication can be channel and media where, media refers to the instrument or way of communicating for example word of mouth or letter or email . In an organization were messages are passed hieratically there is a possibility that the message can be altered or cannot even reach its desired destination hence when the message is received it will be possessing a different meaning from the one intended when the message was originally passed
Sehgal and Khetarpla (2006; 93) go on point out that it is also important to note that also the media used in passing the message could be probably face to face ,phone call , a letter ,or an email and these all posses certain disadvantages or factors that might hinder the message to reach it destination (receiver) .some of the information might not be clearly understood or might be altered or might be missing a certain aspect for example a notice from a manger reads “The meeting has not been scheduled for the 27 of march” then in the email to employees who are supposed to attend the meeting receive an email reading “The meeting has been scheduled for the 27 of march” that on its own means a wrong message has been sent to the receiver thus the receiver has the wrong message hence use of the wrong media of communication is a barrier to effective communication
Noise being any disturbance which occurs in the sending of the message from the sender to receiver .That is in a face to face conversation where a microphone is not present or any other device that can be used to convey sound the air can be disturbed by noise of probably traffic passing by ,cell phones ringing or a group of ladies having tea giggling and chatting could hinder communication as this could create a noise this also includes other factors which can disrupt communication which are referred to as noise .Noise is also a physical barrier to effective communication (About.com (2013))
Lastly on the aspect of physical barriers to communication is the number of links in the chain of communication .The number of links between the sender and ultimate receiver if larger the more likely is there a problem of a communication breakdown. The larger the link the less accurate the message is for example one whispers into another’s ear and this continues say to twenty more people it is most likely that the last person to receive the message, if he is to state out aloud the message will be noted that it will be in possession of additions and subtraction to it and would be different to the original message .Liraz (08/10/2013).
The third class of barriers to communication is Cultural barriers to communication .Culture according Farlex (07/10/2013) it is the totality of socially transmitted behaviour patterns ,arts ,beliefs institutions and all other products of human work and though some differences in culture may be national characters ,language ,values ,and norm of behaviour ,concept of time and space only to mention a few. With this aspect, in a business organization there is an integration of cultures in one organization and this can be a barrier in an organization for example the managing director of Zappa Chips is a woman she has just come up with a brilliant new product idea but in her culture women a forbidden to voice up in the presence of male counterparts this can be a barrier to communication or maybe say in her culture she is only allowed to relate to other males thought her husband that also can be a communication problem between her and other male within the organization she is operating in (Buzzle.com (2002-2012))
At times being from different religious groups or castes can act as a barrier to communication on a personal or professional level. Some individuals might feel uncomfortable communicating with people from other religions because of certain doctrines that are taught and are present in different religious groups. Religious views greatly influence the ways in which one thinks and reacts to different situations (Buzzle.com (2002-2012))
Still under cultural barriers to effective communication it is essential to identify that there are behaviour constraints, this is that every culture has its own rule that govern them and guard them resulting in there, there are ways in which one individual should conduct himself /herself for example in some cultures looking at someone direct in the eye while they are talking is rude or in others the distance between the people who are talking is also important and all these cultural aspects can affect a conversation resulting in the message not being clearly understood (Boundless.com(08/10/2013))
According to Sehgal and Khetarpla (2006) sematic barriers can exist in the communication process .Sematic refers to the science of meaning .Sematic barriers to communication are basically all about coding and decoding the message where in the process there can be disturbances or disruptions in understanding the meaning of information and wording that is found in the message
Sehgal and Khetarpla (2006) go on to explain that sematic can be found in the message where words with various meaning having the same pronunciation are used in a message for example the English word “round ” it has ten (10) plus meanings and in the event that it is used the receiver would interpret in a way he or she best understands the word ,in the event that it is interpreted wrong it becomes a problem as communication has been barred due to misunderstanding of a certain word .Other words like this are flat, watch, book and other
Sematic barriers may also encompass a badly expressed message where an unclarified and precise message result in a badly expressed message, awkward and meaningless message as well as jargons are common problems. This might lead to the wrong message being delivered and this might lead to the receiver interpreting it in his or her own way.
Business environment cannot avoid the personal element in communication that is emotionally how certain individuals will emotionally take some messages as with a message some might be happy, some might feel offended. Emotional barriers to communication are a category of barriers to communication that are characterised by suspicion, mistrust and fear. These may be a problem in that, too much of these may hinder communication as one is not comfortable communicating under these constrains (http://science.blurtit.com/98677/what-are-emotional-barriers-in-communication)
People can get offended while some smile to the same message, while others can develop a strong emotional attachment .It all depends on how certain individuals react to certain individual but the message can be disturbed due to emotional weather even though at times that can be a serious barrier to effective communication
However these barriers to communication being present does not mean that one cannot overcome these barriers where Sehgal and Khetarpla (2006) state that barriers can be overcome if sufficient effort is put and not only sufficient but also constant effort is required to overcome these barriers for communication to be effective and efficient
To overcome some of these barriers in an organisation there is need for coordination between superior and subordinate. In case the two have different mind sets coordination would bring them to one mind and hence there will be effective communication among them (Your article library (07/10/2013))
Also by identifying the types of communication that work particularly well. For example, after a sending a personal note, you’ve noticed that an employee or client seems warmer to you, or more engaged. This would result in effective communication if the sender critically identifies the communication type that best suits the receiver as well as ensures the message is received Triphati and Bahera (2009)
Concurrent feedback upon receiving a message could combat the possibility of a barrier arising that is as soon as the message is received the receiver comments on the message to get clarity from the sender in that he is ensured full understanding of the message(Your article library (07/10/2013))
According to Sehgal and Khetarpla (2006) to overcome sematic barriers, senders of messages or a message should avoid using jargon and or professional short hand with the assumption that everyone is liable to understanding them. The sender should also give clarity when words with over three (3) meanings are used.
Other ways to overcome barriers to effective communication include, proper communication channels, right feedback, proper division of labour, proper organizational policies concerning communication and avoiding the use of technical languages and many other formulas
In conclusion barriers to communication are present in every day communication but one can easily overcome them if there is sufficient efforts to do so