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5 Ways to Avoid Communication Barriers in any Environment

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5 Ways to Avoid Communication Barriers in any Environment

5 Ways to Avoid Communication Barriers in any Environment

A post from our Communication blog

Article author: Ronnie Peterson
      Written by Ronnie Peterson
What are the barriers to effective communication?
Well, they are factors which cause a multitude of problems in any environment, whether at home, work, a club or elsewhere.

They include the following:
  • Failure to understand the point others are trying to make
  • Trying to cram too much information into one statement
  • A lack of confidence or shyness
  • Emotionally driven dialogue
  • Technology-driven misunderstandings in communication
There are so many different styles of communication out there, but they often clash with each other. There could be cultural, psychological, or personal barriers. Or it could simply be that strong communication skills aren't something that come naturally to many people.

It can sometimes feel like some communication barriers are too difficult to get past, leading to a number of problems and slowing down people's progress and effectiveness.

I'm here to tell you that there are many possible solutions that can help you to avoid, and even overcome, many of these issues.

So in this article, I'll go through some of the most common communication barriers that people face, and then describe 5 ways that you can reduce them so you get much more effective outcomes.

What kind of communication barriers do you come across?

I've pulled together a list of some of the most common communication barriers that you're most likely to witness in any environment, though of course there will be many others you may experience.

1. Failure to understand the point others are trying to make

Sometimes people can be too focussed on their own personal agenda during a discussion. If you do this, you can spend too much time formulating your own response while others are speaking, without actually listening to them.

Inevitably, this means that you're unlikely to understand the point that others are trying to make, as you're too preoccupied with the thoughts in your head.

2. Trying to cram too much information into one statement

When you have a lot of different things on your mind, you sometimes feel the need to just get it out there as soon as you get the chance to speak.

By doing this, you risk overloading those around you with too much information and inevitably confusing them.

3. A lack of confidence or shyness

This can be the biggest barrier to effective communication!
If you're not a naturally confident or assertive person, you may find yourself struggling to become a strong communicator.

Any lack of self confidence causes you to question your own opinions. You may not then deliver them with as much conviction as you should. In fact, a lack of confidence can cause many people to retreat into their shell and hardly communicate at all.

4. Emotionally driven dialog

When having an exchange with someone, especially in the workplace, it's best to leave emotion out of the converstion, or it can lead to issues.

Feeling strongly about something is not a bad thing, but it can impact your communication style negatively if you don't keep a control of your emotions. Ask yourself: do you want to be effective, or just let off steam?

5. Technology-driven misunderstandings in communication

In this day and age, many of us are using email and messaging to communicate. But it's too easy to misconstrue someone's tone or point if you can't see or hear them in person.

Even a telephone - pretty basic technology by today's standards - removes your ability to give and receive the visual feedback that often underpins a message.

Want to Communicate More Effectively?

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So now let's look at how to work around each one.

5 ways to avoid barriers to effective communication:

1.  Have clarity of thought before speaking out

Before you try to get your point across to others, make sure you're very clear about the message you're hoping to communicate.

Arranging your thoughts before verbalising them will help you communicate much more clearly and succinctly.
You're much more likely to be effective, by staying on point, which will make your listeners much less likely to be left bored or confused by what you say.

It's a better idea to say something like, "I've got a few ideas here. Let me go through them one at a time. We can treat each one on its own merit."
Then, you can give the first one, and discuss it, before moving on to the next one.

If you're unsure whether your point has gone across as you intended, try asking your audience whether what you've said is clear. This is much better than giving a whole lot of points at once, where you're likely to get questions from all over the place ... or maybe none at all!

2. Learn to listen!

As simple as it sounds, you'll be surprised just how many people really don't know how to listen properly.
This leads to a failure to understand the people you are trying to communicate with, and creates conversations fraught with misunderstandings.

If you don't understand the point that someone is trying to make, don't be afraid to ask them to repeat it, or explain it further ... in a polite manner.

3. Take care of your body language and tone

Often, when people think of improving their communication skills, they tend to focus on verbal communication. Which is, of course, a good thing to do.
But non-verbal communication - such as your tone of voice and body language - is equally important. In fact, in many people's estimation, it's more important!

For example, if you're unintentionally coming across as hostile or emotional through your body language or facial expressions, this can cause misunderstandings or cause others not to want to engage with you.

So when you're communicating with others, make efforts to adopt a relaxed posture and tone, avoid defensive barriers like folding your arms, maintain an adequate level of eye contact ... and keep your emotions in check!

Check out our other article on styles of communication for more ideas on the subject.

4. Build up your confidence by asking for feedback and observing others

If a lack of confidence is causing a personal communication barrier, then you may need to consider using different tactics to improve your skills, so you can start to feel more confident.

Focus on improving your skills by practicing on your own (say in front of a mirror) then in front of people who you feel comfortable with - like family and close friends.

You can also ask people whose advice you value to give you feedback and critique your communication style after a discussion. Just working on improving your communication skills and practicing what you learn will make you feel more confident, and be effective, over time.

5. Communicate face to face on the important issues

As tempting as it can be just send an email or ping a text message, try not to do this for more important or personal matters.

Having a face to face dialogue means you can convey your point more clearly, with your body language as well as your tone of voice.
It can also help to clear up any misunderstandings or distortion of the message that could occur through other mediums.

Besides, can you see your spouse or partner being happy with deciding which college your child goes to by text? Some things just need to be done face to face, if only to show how important they are, and how seriously you're taking them.

So there we are: a brief description of barriers to effective communication and  ways to reduce them. Hopefully, this article will help you understand and avoid potential communication barriers in the future.

Remember, becoming a strong and effective communicator takes time and practice. Over time, using these communication strategies will lead to better  and more productive outcomes in your personal and workplace relationships.

Want to Communicate More Effectively?

If you'd like to learn more about communication, why not take a look at how we can help?

Boost your communication skills with our online courses.
RRP from $89 – limited time offer just $16.00

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