How To Overcome Communication Barriers: Benefits and Tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 July 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Effective communication is key to the success of almost every type of personal, social and business interaction. If there are barriers to it, you might find it hard to express yourself properly. By understanding the different barriers to communication, you can understand how to overcome them and improve your communication skills. In this article, we discuss the different barriers of communication, explain how to overcome communication barriers and offer strategies you can employ in your workplace to communicate more effectively.

Why is it important to overcome communication barriers?

Understanding how to overcome communication barriers is important to prevent miscommunication and misunderstandings between people. By overcoming barriers to effective communication, you may be able to improve your personal, social and business interactions with others. With minimised communication barriers, you can efficiently exchange information, better assist colleagues and clients and build mutually beneficial relationships.

How to overcome communication barriers in the workplace

If you are wondering how to overcome communication barriers in the workplace, you might find these tips helpful:

1. Think carefully about what you want to communicate

Plan what you are going to say and note the key points. It may be necessary to conduct research and gather more information to bolster your stance. You can also try to anticipate the questions you might get and prepare your responses.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

2. Choose the right communication channel

Decide if you and the other party should communicate face-to-face, by phone, over a video call, via email or with text messages. The mode of communication should be acceptable, available and accessible to both of you. It may also be necessary to plan the time and the place if you are meeting in person. Whichever communication mode you choose, make sure you can communicate without external distractions. During in-person, phone or video talks, switch off any devices that might interrupt you. For written communications, proofread and edit for clarity, accuracy, grammar and spelling.

3. Maintain a positive and assertive attitude

Be aware of the tone of your voice and, if you meet in person or through video chat, your body language. Sit up straight to convey respect and attentiveness. Speak with confidence and enunciate each word clearly to make yourself well understood. Invite the other person to express their opinion and encourage them with nods and brief comments. Let them talk without interruption and listen intently to what they have to say. If you have a different view, explain it politely. Ask them for their feedback to let them know you care about their opinion.

What are the main types of communication?

Here are the five main types of communication:

Verbal communication

Verbal communication is conversing with people in person or through different modes where you can hear each other's voices, such as telephone calls, conference calls, video calls or voice messages. Verbal communication includes conversations, speeches, speaking engagements, discussions, debates and presentations. Verbal communication can comprise specific words, their meanings and their intent. What also matters is the manner in which you or other people speak these words, the pitch or tone you use and the cadence of the words. The effectiveness of verbal communication is dependent to a great extent on such clues.

Nonverbal communication

Nonverbal communication may be as effective or sometimes even more effective than verbal communication. It can include your facial expressions, posture, hand movements, eye contact and overall appearance. When you speak with someone, especially face-to-face, you unconsciously take in nonverbal cues. Nonverbal communication can help deepen your understanding of face-to-face or video communication. For instance, noticing the body language of your colleague may give you clues about how to improve your collaboration efforts with them.

Written communication

Written communication covers a variety of typed or handwritten documents, including:

  • Notes

  • Letters

  • Memos

  • Reports

  • Written advertisements

  • Blogs

  • Website content

  • Affidavits

  • Emails

  • Social media posts

  • Contracts

  • Manuals

The primary purpose of written communication is to create, exchange and share information in a clear, easy-to-understand manner. With good writing skills, you can get your message across through various written communication channels. Since written communication has become easier than ever to circulate and preserve in the digital age, it's important to edit and be mindful of the words you use when communicating through emails, social media and other virtual forms of communication.

4. Listening to communication

Listening is an essential part of communication, as it enables you to engage and negotiate with others. By actively listening to what someone is saying, you might find it easier to understand what they mean and want. In addition, as people often appreciated being heard, you may find it easier to build meaningful relationships when you strengthen your listening skills.

5. Visual communication

Visual communication can include:

  • Photographs

  • Artwork

  • Typography

  • Digital manipulations

  • Visual advertisements, such as billboards or flyers

  • Graphic designs

  • Slideshows

  • Videos

Visual communication can help convey specific meanings, ideas and emotions to viewers. Take a look around you and observe the role visual communication plays in your everyday life. Many advertising and news companies often try to make visual communication a part of their strategy to impact public opinion.

Related: A Guide to the 7 C's of Communication

What are communication barriers?

Communication barriers are things that can hinder the effectiveness of your communications during personal, social or business interactions. However, if you know about the specific types of communication barriers, you can more effectively strategize solutions to overcome them. Here are the most common types of communication barriers:

  • Physical barriers: These can include work units, screens, walls or doors that prevent people from having easy communication access to others. You might also experience physical communication barriers if you live in a different region or country than the person with whom you are communicating.

  • Cultural barriers: These can arise from your inability to adapt to or understand a group's behavioural patterns.

  • Linguistic barriers: Unfamiliarity with a language, specific jargon and expressions can make communication difficult.

  • Emotional barriers: Emotions like anger, fear, suspicion or mistrust can make it difficult for you to communicate directly, honestly and politely.

  • Perceptual barriers: These arise from how you perceive or unconsciously make assumptions about people or situations.

  • Attitude barriers: Your attitude or the attitudes of other people may act as a barrier to having an open discussion.

  • Technological barriers: Technology barriers occur when you or the person you are trying to communicate with do not have access to the necessary software, hardware or other digital tools. Technological barriers may also occur if you or the other person does not know how to use certain types of technologies that aid in communications, such as video conferences or digital slideshows.

  • Organisational structure barriers: Work positions and hierarchies can prevent an honest exchange of ideas and information between people.

Related: Types of Barriers in Communication

What are the ways to overcome barriers of communication?

You can try the following for overcoming barriers to effective communication:

  • Take the time to understand people and their motivations.

  • Use a language that the person you want to communicate with can understand.

  • Choose the right time, place and mode for communication.

  • Ask the person if they feel willing to discuss things with you.

  • Discuss only one issue at a time.

  • Express what you want to convey in a calm, clear and precise manner.

  • Make sure the other person has understood you correctly.

  • Allow the other person to respond and listen attentively to their response.

  • Let them know that you have understood them.

  • Be polite and respectful throughout the discussion.

Related: How To Improve Communication Skills

What are four ways to overcome language barriers?

With hard work and practice, you can minimise and overcome communication barriers in the following ways:

  • Use uncomplicated language: People who speak your native language as a second language may not understand complex vocabulary or jargon. Try to communicate with direct and straightforward language that they can comprehend.

  • Get assistance for a reliable language translator: If possible, you can use a translator to help you find simpler versions of words and phrases or ask the translator to translate your words into the other person's native language.

  • Use visual communication methods: Even if people cannot understand your words, they can get your meaning if you provide visual cues like pictures, charts and diagrams.

  • Be patient and respectful: I t is essential to make people feel comfortable and be patient if they have a hard time understanding your language. Repeat your statement slowly and try to find an easier way to explain it.

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