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Barriers to Communication are those factors that weaken the impact of the whole effort to communicate. These are sometimes deliberate and sometimes unintentional. Sometimes these are created through ignorance to the 7 Credentials of Communication and sometimes these pop-up by default.

As we know that one of the features of communication is it's being prone to failure. Perfect Communication is Never Possible in Practice. There shall definitely be some challenges and hurdles that shall try to break the chain of communication. It is for these barriers and challenges that we need to prepare in advance when we initiate the Communication Process. It is said that if we take care in the beginning and strengthen the 'transmission' itself, the sender and receiver shall find it easy to sustain the exchange of information and feelings. 

This is to be noted that the barriers are not walls that are going to halt the process. These are 'Speed Breakers' which are present on the way and we need to acknowledge their existence rather than wasting time cribbing about. It is like life situations where we are advised to look at our strengths and handle the problems.

Broadly, the barriers can be divided into 05 categories: 

  1. Physical Barriers
  2. Psychological Barriers
  3. Linguistic Barriers
  4. Cultural Barriers
  5. Organisational Barriers

Physical Barriers: Noise and Distance are listed as two barriers that are produced by physical/material things. Like, noise is generated by things that we can see, move and make. The sound of the fan, crackers, honking or even the sound of the door comes under this. Any sound that interrupts the Communication Process is Noise. Whereas, Distance is also a physical barrier because of the distance between physical beings slows-down the process of communication. If the sender and receiver are far away from each other and the audio or visuals are not reaching each other, this barrier is in work. The distance can also cause audibility issues as well as appearance problems.

Psychological Barriers: The interruptions that come from and because of the MIND are Psychological Barriers. Primarily, these barriers can be controlled with better understanding between the communication participants. Preoccupations, Mental Locks, Fear, Pre-mature Evaluation/Hurried Judgements are Psychological Barriers. If one enters the communication process with pre-conceived notions and treats the other as 'wrong', this advanced preparation to fail the communication certainly fails the purpose. One who has a closed mind without any rational acceptance of arguments, we call them people with 'Mental Locks'. One more barrier that we often see is of pre-mature evaluation and hurried judgements. It is suggested not to be quick in jumping to judgements and then leave the participation. There is a possibility that the other person might present some rational thing. But sticking to one's own view and not listening to the other just after a few sentences, is Pre-mature Evaluation Barrier.  

Language Barriers: If the participants of the communication process are not able to get the meaning of what is said and the cause behind is Different Languages, Semantic Barriers (Related to Meanings), then we have to correct the Language Limitations. We should remember that it is tough to communicate when the languages are different or the participants are not able to 'decode' the meanings of the words said by the other. Context also plays a vital role in this.

Cultural Barriers: When the process of communication has people from different ethnicities and belief-systems, we expect the 'understanding' to be tough.  Different Cultures and Difference in Rituals often cause a breakdown of communication. The modern world crisis of 'cultural clashes' is because of the third Cultural barrier namely Ethnocentrism. It means that one considers his own culture and ethnicity superior to others and that leads to clashes in the attempt to establish that obsession. 

Organisational Barriers: When we find the cause of communication failure in the organisational arrangements, we term those factors as organisational barriers. For example, if I do not have a printer, I shall be late in submitting a report because prints have to be taken from somewhere else. If I provided with the best of facilities and resources, that enhances my communication competence and brings out the best of the process of working. 'Fewer Facilities' is the first barrier in this category.  Organisation Set-up, if not conducive to the employees, they tend to generate rumours and grapevine. Healthy Hierarchy which allows all to work with mutual respect is the hallmark of a successful organisation. The set-up, if complicated and non-supportive, creates a divide among all in the organisation. If they are not free to talk to each other; if they do not have access to their seniors, the subordinates are going to lose morale and that results in a failure of the organisation. 

The Best thing about Communication Process is that it never suggests that those faults are in the Sender or Receiver. Rather, the Medium is sometimes attacked by the Barriers and we need to get back to our strengths to deal with them. Knowing that such type of barriers exist and work against us in Communication, is helpful in maintaining healthy connect. 

About the Author
Author: Parveen Sharma
Skill Development Facilitator
EklavyaParv is the Life Long Learning Mission with the belief that "You Create YourSelf!" Working on the motivational trilogy of Enhance-Empower-Encourage, we share learning contents on Communication Skills, Educational Technology, Skill Development and Insights about Education, Life and Learning. These resources are under the philosophy of Open Educational Resources (OERs). Parveen Kumar Sharma believes in being a Teacher who has been teaching Communication Skills for more than a decade to students from K-12 to HigherEd. Academic Intervention and Skill Development are the passions he works for. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor at MM (Deemed to be) University, Mullana, Ambala (Haryana) INDIA

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