While often over looked, communication noise can have a profound impact both on our perception of interactions with others and our analysis of our own communication proficiency. Communication noise refers to influences on effective communication that influence the interpretation of conversations. Forms of communication noise include environmental noise, psychological noise, physical noise, physiological, semantic noise, syntactical noise, organizational noise, cultural noise and. All these forms of noise subtly, yet greatly influence our communication with others and are vitally important to anyone’s skills as a competent communicator.
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Noise can annoy, disrupt communication, and disturb sleep. One person’s music can be another person’s intense irritation. One person’s business may disturb another person’s concentration or sleep. For those who are badly disturbed by noise, particularly in their homes and at work, it can become an inescapable presence in their private lives. Noise is anything that interferes with the decoding of messages sent over the channel by the encoder.
Environmental noise rarely reaches the sound pressure levels associated with hearing impairment. However, noise can cause annoyance, is commonly blamed for sleep disturbance and has been linked by researchers to less obvious effects, such as cardiovascular and mental health problems and reduced performance at work or school. Annoyance can cause stress and longer term health problems such as hypertension (permanently raised blood pressure).
Common effects on humans are physiological stress and, at higher noise levels, cardiovascular reactions. Negative influences on mental health, performance and productivity have also been observed and documented by researchers. The effects of longer term exposure are not well understood, but it has been linked to a slightly increased likelihood of hypertension, heart disease and heart attack. A recent study estimated that road noise could cause around 100 attacks a year in Greater London: 1.8%
Certain groups of people are more vulnerable to environmental noise. High background noise levels make conversation more difficult for the hearing impaired. Studies have linked a range of psychological symptoms to environmental noise, including anxiety, stress, irritability and mood change. There is no evidence that noise directly causes mental illness, but research suggests that people who are prone to certain psychiatric disorders may be more sensitive to environmental noise.
Psychological noise, in the form of preconceptions, biases, stereotyping and assumptions also interferes with effective message transmission and reception. Most of those who study communication would identify one’s upbringing as the sole source of psychological noise. There are cases, however, when the source of interference is spiritual. The “evil one” is frequently mentioned in the Scriptures as interfering with people’s reception and understanding of the Gospel. For example, Jesus said, “When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart” (Matthew 13:19, NIV). God is able to protect His chosen, however, by placing a “hedge” around them, which protects them from Satanic interference (Job 1:10). Jesus further countered this satanic noise by opening His followers’ minds so that they were able to accurately perceive and interpret the Scriptures (Luke 24:45).
“Can you hear me now?”
Poorly heated rooms that cause people to be shivering with teeth rattling puts Physical noise in the communication process Physical noise. This type of noise is the “can you hear me now?”variety where communication is not taking place because of something that is external to the people involved in an interaction like static on the phone or a call being dropped.
The semantic noise is the most common and difficult to define among the various forms of noise mentioned. It is a certain diction that leads to confusion or misinterpretation of the message. It can occur because of language barriers or the use of jargon that only people in a certain field understand.
The adjective “physiological” has the same language roots at the noun “physiology,” which refers to the study of bodies. Human physiology, of course, studies the human body. Physiological noise, then refers to interferences to communication that result from disorders of the body. Poor eyesight and hearing difficulties are examples. A person unable to hear is restricted to reading lips or written messages. A person who cannot see doesn’t have the benefit of seeing non-verbal cues sent by a speaker. While physiological noise is relatively rare, it creates unique communication challenges when it does occur.
Semantic noise is something that a lot of people do without knowing they even do it. It can break down the communication quickly and detrimentally. When communicating with someone, persons need to be mindful of any semantic noise that might carry over into their conversations. Semantics such as this are interpreted as racial slurs even if the person using those symbols was not aware that it could be interpreted as such and did not mean to do it all.
Many conversations, both oral and written, are subject to this noise. Each writer must be careful to read carefully what they write before submitting it. Semantic noise could turn all of their hard written work into something that blows the intended audience right out of the water. This would cause its intended audience to miss the intention and information in the conversation.
Syntactical Noise: mistakes in grammar can disrupt communication, such as abrupt changes in verb tense during a sentence, or differing sentence structures between different cultures.
When a Syntactical noise verb is used to indicate verbal communication, factors from both the source domain of the verb (perception) and the target domain (communication) play a role in determining the argument structure of the sentence. While the target domain supplies a syntactic structure, the source domain’s semantics constrain the degree to which that syntactic structure can be exploited. This can be determined by comparing noise verbs in this use with manner of communication verbs, which are superficially similar, but native to communication. For instance, noise verbs are more focused on the form of the message than manner verbs: noise verbs appear more frequently with a quoted message. In addition, there are differences other than the complementation patterns: certain noise verbs are biased with respect to speakers’ genders, message types, and even orthography in quoted messages.
When unclear and badly stated directions can make the receiver even more lost, or how disorganized lectures by professors are so hard to understand this is an example of Organizational Noise. This poorly structured communication prevents the receiver from accurate interpretations.
Cultural differences can sometimes lead to misunderstanding in the workplace or the community. Misunderstandings can occur around the simplest things, such as: food, language, greetings, gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, touching, pointing, self expression, privacy, male and female roles, punctuality, and religion. The need for greater comprehension is also needed in the workplace.
The spoken word and body language can mean different things in different cultures as well. Additional potential causes of cultural differences when interacting with people from different, consider how the sender and receivers words and actions can be interpreted. The patterns of conversation the ability to take turns to speak and to be silent. How much the senders say, attentiveness and listening. Note the functions of the sender and receivers apologizing, inviting, complimenting, requesting. What are the expressions and gestures? How far they stand or sit when communicating. When dealing with any person, it is important from the senders point of view to recognize difficulties the receiver may have in understanding and the message you are conveying.
In the field of communication, noise refers to the distortions that takes place in communication during the process of communication.
Communication takes place between a sender or originator of the communication and a receiver of communication. The distortion in communication or the noise can take place during any of the five steps of communication process listed below.
- The sender formulating the message to be communicated to the receiver. The message is formulated in terms of the thoughts and facts to be conveyed.
- The sender coding the message in a form suitable for transmission. The senders thought and faccts to be communicated in some form suitable for communication such as speech.
- Transmission of the coded message. In case messages in the form of speech will be carried to the recipient through a suitable medium such as air for face to face communication.
- Receipt of message by the recipient.
- Understanding of the decoded message by recipient.
Distortion of the message can take place at any of these five steps of communication. The sender may not formulate the message very cleanly in his or her mind. The message as coded by the sender may not represent the intended message completely or correctly. The message may get distorted, or part of it lost during the transmission process. For example, voice of sender may get mixed up with other environmental noises. The receiver may again receive only part of the message, and may also distort the message during the process of receipt. For example the recipients may not listen carefully to all that is being said, and attach much more importance to some part of the message than to others. Finally the interpretation of the message received may not be the same as intended originally by the sender. These are the various type of noises that occur in communication.
The total incidence.4 Separating the effect of noise from other confounding factors, such as air pollution, body mass index, age and smoking is difficult.
Physical maladies that prevent effective communication, such as actual deafness or blindness preventing messages from being received correctly.
Different interpretations of the meanings of certain words, like how the word “weed” can be interpreted as both an undesirable plant in your yard or marijuana, or how “LOL” is easily recognizable by most teens, but complete gibberish to older readers.
Mistakes in grammar can disrupt communication, such as abrupt changes in verb tense during a sentence, or differing sentence structures between different cultures.
Poorly structured communication can prevent the receiver from accurate interpretations, like unclear and badly stated directions can make the receiver even more lost, or how unfocused and disorganized lectures by professors are extremely hard for students to understand.
Stereotypical assumptions can cause misunderstandings, such as unintentionally offending Jews by wishing them a “Merry Christmas,” or how Democrats and Republicans alike are bigoted about the other party’s policies.
Certain attitudes can make communication difficult, like when great anger or sadness causes someone to lose focus on the present, or how more serious psychological diseases like autism severely hamper effective communication.
Psychological noise can be defined by certain attitudes that can make communication difficult. For instance great anger or sadness that causes some person to lose their focus on the present. Even more prevalent.
It’s important to remember that there is no way to create a noise-free world, but we can all do our best to communicate as clearly as we can-and actively listen to the people we communicate with-in order to reduce this interference in our lives.
DeVito, J. A. (1986). The communication handbook: A dictionary. New York: Harper & Row.
Rothwell, Dan J. In the Company of Others: An Introduction to Communication. New York: McGraw Hill, 2004.
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