Communication is a smooth transmission of information, ideas, emotions, and feelings (and more importantly transmission of meaning) from one to another where the intended message encoded by the sender is grasped by the receiver and s/he responds accordingly. But in many cases, we fail to communicate the desired information, knowledge, or emotion as some barrier crops up between the sender and the receiver which prevents successful communication, distorts the message, or hampers the process and makes communication meaningless. For example, when we are communicating orally it may happen that the communication environment is noisy and consequently the receiver of the message is not able to hear us clearly. The noisy environment is a barrier to communication.
Classification of Barriers to Communication
Noise or barriers can be of two kinds:
- Channel Noise
- Semantic Noise
The difference between the Channel Noise and Semantic noise can be summarized as - Channel Noise develops externally (that is, external to the message) whereas the Semantic Noise is internal to the message.
When there is any unwanted interference or snag in the medium of communication process it is termed as channel noise. Below are some of the causes with examples of Channel Noise:
- Physical Noise in the Channel
- Use of Inappropriate Media
- Multiple Transfer Stations
- Information Overload
- Fear of Superiors
- Negative Presuppositions
- Communication Selectivity
- Poor Listening
Semantic Noise can be defined as noise or barrier that is generated from within a message. As language is connotative, that is, the meaning of a word is not always stated directly and can also be implied; therefore the communication process fails many times as the same word is
interpreted differently by different people.
Below are some of the causes with examples of Semantic Noise.
- Limited Vocabulary
- Incompatibility between Verbal and Non-verbal Language
- Varied Perception due to Different Backgrounds, such as Cultural
- Wrong Assumptions and Inferences
- Blocked Categories/Categorical Thinking
- Emotional, Psycho-social Unsettled State
Strategies to overcome Barriers to Communication
If one desires to be an effective communicator then one needs to learn ways to avoid barriers or noise so that communication failures do not happen. When a particular communication fails to evoke any response or the desired response because of some noise or barrier to communication, then the following steps can help solve the problem:
- Identify the problem
- Find the cause or barrier
- Work on alternative solutions
- Opt for the best solution
- Follow up rigorously
It is thought that for effective communication there is a need to follow certain norms which are known as “7 Cs of Effective Communication."
These norms apply both in written as well as oral communication.
The 7 Cs of communication are -
- Completeness - Any communication must be complete, in the sense that a message should convey all the facts required for the comprehension of the message.
- Conciseness – Conciseness refers to the fact that while communicating one should try to make a message as short as possible to make it effective. Conciseness in communication not only saves time but is also cost-effective and highlights the message making it more appealing and comprehensible for the audience/reader.
- Consideration – Consideration in communication implies that the sender of message steps into the shoes of the audience/readers in terms of their viewpoints, background, mindset, education level, etc. to ensure that the message sent is comprehended properly by the receiver(s).
- Clarity – Clarity in communication implies that the message should be as clutter-free as possible and that it is easily understandable. To put a message across with clarity, one needs clarity of thought. And when one has a clarity of thought one can use exact, appropriate, and specific words to express oneself.
- Concreteness – Concreteness in communication implies being particular and clear rather than fuzzy and general. One should be specific in terms of quoting figures and facts as it makes communication effective and trustworthy and there is less chance of the message being misinterpreted.
- Courtesy - Courtesy in communication implies that the sender should respect the receiver/s in terms of being polite, judicious, reflective, and enthusiastic. It creates a positive atmosphere for communication and leads to effective communication.
- Correctness - Correctness in communication implies that there are no grammatical errors, no dubiousness in facts and figures. Correctness in communication builds up trust between the sender and the receiver and makes communication effective.