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There are several factors that causes communication barrier, languages is one of them. Now days, business opportunities are no longer bound and restrict by distance. We have our thanks to technology for that, cooperating with people and company all around the world is made possible. These days, it is common for company to hired peoples from a different countries and races to work for them. Do you know how many types of languages available across the globe? You may be surprised, there are actually over more than 6000 types of languages spoken in our current modern world! And the most popular language is Mandarin Chinese; it is then followed by English ranking on the second place. Although English does very well in the world of business, but not everyone can speak them well. Learning to pronounce English accurately is not easy, accent and slang causes English even more difficult to be understand and heard. To the Japanese ear, the letter "R" and "L" are the same! They don't have a distinction in their own language. So whenever they say words with "R" or "L" it might sound differently. "Clap" sometimes sounds like "crap" or "law" sounded like "raw", see what I mean? When we are dealing with a group of peoples from different places and races, surely we will face some communication difficulties in both speaking and listening.
To overcome the problem with languages, the most effective way is to learn and improve our English. We could always go for trainings and attend courses to perfect our English. By doing so, it helps us to communicate more easily. Listening to news broadcast on the television or radio is a good way to learn how to pronounce English accurately. Making a habit and speaking English in our daily life does helps too. Speaking clearly and not too fast helps your listener to understands more easily. Of course when it comes to a situation where English doesn't work at all, we could always hire a translator. All of us have limits and only capable of speaking several types of languages. Like myself, I am only capable of speaking three types of languages which is Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese Mandarin and English. If I were to have a meeting or business proposal with a client from another country such as Russia or Korean, it would be a great if I had a translator beside me and does all the translation for me. It is very common these days for company to bring along a translator to the meeting when they are dealings with clients or business partner that speak a totally different language from them.
Cross cultural barrier
When working with people that come from different races and countries, we may not aware or know about their culture or religions. Without a proper understanding to this matter, culture clash will happen. It could be in a form of body language, etiquette, religious beliefs or social habits. When people from Saudi Arabia and USA, come together for a meeting. They maybe feel uncomfortable without knowing exactly why. The American may feel the Arab pushy or aggressive, while the Arab may sees the American unfriendly or untrustworthy. Another example would be, during a meeting Chinese members may not want to give their critical opinion, because they want to save others face. However the Australians might feel that not saying what is on your mind shows a lack of honesty. Like the word "Cheerio" that's sounds like a name for a breakfast cereal, however it is just a friendly way of saying goodbye. From my own point of view, cultural difference is all about attitudes and beliefs that come from our own personal experience.
Cross cultural barrier (Solution)
To overcome cross cultural barrier, there are few things we can do. If you going to have a client from a different country like Korean for a meeting, studying and tries to understand their culture helps. If you don't have the time, you could always bring along a person or hire a translator that knows the culture of that country. They will help you to prevent do and say thing that may seems rude or impolite to them. It is also practical to hired people from the countries you used to deal with. For an example, if your company main customer is from the British, it would be practical if you were to hired more people that comes from there. That helps a lot in understanding their culture. Before a meeting start you could always send out a list of "not to do and do thing" as a reminder to everyone, such as do not use the "F" word or showing your middle finger in the meeting. If you are not sure of the person culture, you can play safe by using more neutral words. Such as replacing the word "shit" to "crap" it somehow sounds less rude there. And remember, always to respect them. Try not to laugh out loud when something they've said seems or sounds funny to you. Being an understanding person will helps to show respect to other's people culture.
Noise is another factor that causes disturbance during communicating; it can be either internal or external. Internal noise are noise in our mind, something like self-talking that we all do most of the time. Example like, wondering about what the other person is thinking about, thing need to be done today or what to have for dinner tonight. These internal noises can cause us from not being entirely focused during a communication. Besides internal noise, external noise can impact us as well. External noise is basically noise around our surrounding. It can be a noise outside the building like traffic noise. Just imagine all of us right now having a meeting and the building next door is under construction, we will faced a hard time focusing listening to the speaker because of the noise. Noise outside of the building are not the only noise that can disturb us, noise inside the building can too! A ringing sound of a mobile phone or squeaking sound of a chair can cause a disturbance to us. These noises can also be created by us, such as more than one person or everyone is trying to speak up at the same time. When an environment becomes noisy, people get irritated and will encountered problem focusing and paying attention to what you are trying to say.
To fix problem with noise, it is rather quite easy. We just have to track and eliminate the source of the sound. For example, if the noise is coming out from outside such as building construction, we can reduce the noise by closing the windows or just simply change the location of the meeting to a location that the noise can't be heard. Try to speak louder if you believe that the listener cannot hear you well. You could always ask the people sitting the furthest are they able to hear you clearly or not. Avoid using idioms and speak by using a clear, straightforward language. By doing so, you are preventing needless confusion and in the same time preventing noise-talking in listener's head as well. Everyone should learn turn-taking, always wait for the other person to finish talk before we interfere. By giving other people a chance to talk and voice out their opinion, can lead to a very fruitful communication. Compare to just one person doing all the talking, we should always listen for other to speak up their own point of view. Several ideas or heads is better than one. Don't you agree?
Of course, everyone is busy and always have things planned up to do next. Having a meeting at 1pm and the next appointment with a customer at 3pm and you need to pick up the kids from school at 2pm. We always found ourselves multitasking trying to race against the time. Have you ever encountered scenario where meeting starts in around five minutes, and only half of the group is present? Or someone is still preparing the projector or setting up the computer for the meeting? How would you feel if you had tons of stuff waiting for you to do at your desk and these people are wasting your time? Angry perhaps or maybe you just want the meeting to get over as soon as possible so you continue to do your work. Or maybe, it was only a simple decision to be made however the meeting drag for hours and you keep questing yourself, when this meeting going to end? Most of the time we often feel pressed by time constrain, time is always chasing our backs.
Be puncture, always arrived several minutes earlier before a meeting starts. If you caught up with something where you can't make it on time, you could always inform the others to start the meeting first. Putting a reminder in your calendar or your smart phone helps and keeps track of these appointments so you won't be late. Arrived early in the meeting and check all the equipment to make sure everything is in a proper condition helps. For example, for a team meeting that you have limited time like half an hour. Make sure you get everything ready. Set up any equipment before the start of the meeting and prepared your notes, documentation and reference materials. Quickly inform your technical department about any equipment or computer problems. If materials are handwritten, make sure the writing is easy to read and clear. Try not to waste time asking thing you already knew, use careful questioning techniques to quickly indentify the main purpose of the meeting and come out with the result. You could always have a facilitator in the meeting. A facilitator does not need to be the leader or need to have formal training before. They are just someone who keeps the meeting flowing. They are someone who makes helpful statements like "Its two o'clock let's start the meeting" or "let's move on to our next topics". By doing these things and plan ahead, you can prevent wasting the time you could be using for the meeting itself!
Bias & Ego
From the psychological side, we have few factors and one of them is bias. Bias is something that all of us have, it is shaped by our experiences and reflects who we are. It can become an obstacle to effective communication when we only choose to speak only those people that more likely to agree with us and understand us. Everyone does that from time to time without realizing, it's natural. For example, I only speak and listen to opinion spoken by my manager as we both are best buddies and think alike. In this case, others people words and ideas may get ignored by me and hence communication barrier will happen.
Misinterpretation & Assumptions
Next it's misinterpretation. It usually happen during email interactions, however it can also occur during face-to-face conversations. When interacting with others, sometimes we misinterpret something they've said. Sometimes we do jump to conclusion too and making assumptions too fast. For instance, we may assume that people understand and agree with what you are saying when they nodding while you speak. Similarity, if you asked question about your message and no one replied. It would be easy to assume there are none.
Conflicts arise because of ego of people; this is one of the reasons that lead to communication barrier within an organization. Egos insist on having their own way and cloud people's judgment. You may have that someone with very high ego in your office, and he or she always disagree with others and tends to do thing their way because for them, their way is the correct way.
And lastly it's emotion, how's a person feeling that day effects the communication based on their mood. If a person is happy and don't faced any problem in their life, they will able to focus and listen to what you've said without any disturbance. For example if your manager just had a fight with his wife, during the meeting he's in a bad mood and will keep disagree or scolding others without any reason. This is something that is unpredictable.
Psychological problem that lead into communication barrier can be avoided if a person is willing to change. By change we are not referring to a person physical change, but to internal change in a person that is becoming more understandable and reasonable. While communicating, it's important to be aware and try to overcome these biases. Don't be a favouritism type of person; be even-balanced and fair! Make sure things you've said is clear and accurately understood by others. Not many will risk the potential being the only person who doesn't agree with you, or perhaps doesn't know what to ask. This is because they assume what they do would be a mistake. The truth is, peoples are shy and embarrass. Do not make assumptions, if you have any doubt, always ask for clarification. In an office there might be several generations of peoples working together, each generation has their own point of view. We won't always agree to what people may say but try to put our ego aside, and listen to what they are saying anyway. Don't let it cloud our judgment and become a prejudice person. We must always remember that we do not know what has happened to your colleagues during their day. They may be extremely busy, had an argument, or just having a bad day. It is crucial that we do not take their mood personally and let it affect your communication.
I hope all of you understand the message I am trying to deliver today. Is there any question that you would like to ask? Please don't be shy. If there are no more questions, I would like to end my speech. So in conclusion, communication is fruitful if all the barriers and obstacles are cleared. Always be reminded that communication is a two way process, so be thoughtful and thinks for others. Be sure of what you want to communicate and why, provide the right attitude and be clear in the use of language. Always listen attentively and speak to the point to avoid communication garbage. Be more understanding and patient to avoid mental blocks, closed mind and ego problems. Remember "Desire to communicate is the essence of communication" Thank you and have a nice day.