Communication is the key factor in the success of any organization. When it comes to effective communication, there are certain barriers that every organization faces. People often feel that communication is as easy and simple as it sounds. No doubt, but what makes it complex, difficult and frustrating are the barriers that come in its way.
Here are a few of the most commonly-found barriers in communication in an organization:
- Perceptual Barriers: The most common problem faced these days is that of the difference in opinion between two people. The varied perceptions of every individual give rise to a need for effective communication.
- Emotional Barriers: Another main barrier is the fear and mistrust that form the roots of our emotional barrier which stop us from communicating effectively with our co-workers.
- Language Barriers: Language that describes what we would want to express and communicate to others, may at times, serve as a barrier to them. In today’s global scenario, the greatest compliment we can pay to another person is by speaking and effectively communicating to them in their local language. We need to understand that the native language of employees can be different from anyone else’s.
- Cultural Barriers: The world is made up of diverse cultures. A cultural barrier arises when two individuals in an organization belong to different religions, states or countries.
- Physical Barriers: Research shows that one of the key factors in building strong and integrated teams is proximity. Most offices have closed doors and cabins for those at higher levels of the organizational ladder while the large working areas are physically placed far apart. This kind of barrier forbids team members from effective interaction with each another.
The only way one can improve effective organizational communication is by changing one’s thoughts and feelings with one’s colleague. In this way, we don’t just break down communication barriers, but also build relationships that work successfully for long.
Therefore, overcoming communication barriers in organizations is very important. Communication is much more than just trading words. It also encompasses the emotions and intentions of the people involved. Overcoming communication barriers can be achieved through proper training interventions. These include programs to improve listening and written skills, build conversational skills, trainings on verbal and non-verbal communications skills, giving and receiving feedback, negotiation skills, etc.
Most organizations today have a healthy mix of employees from all across the world – employees of all races, ethnicities, and religions. Hence, it is very important to ensure they all work together harmoniously and contribute to organizational success.
Diversity and inclusivity trainings help organizations groom their employees on embracing their inherent differences and leveraging diversity to build efficiencies. These training programs focus on building a culture of unity, promote inclusivity and help employees see others’ point of view – to agree to disagree – that helps break down perceptual differences.
It is also very important to train employees on developing effective interpersonal relationships, this entails sensitizing them on the importance of interpersonal relationships, the various styles of communication, educating them about emotional intelligence, conflicts, trust, creating a healthy work environment, etc.
To overcome language barriers, learn at least the basics of your employees’ language and communicate with them in the same. Translating communication aids (such as emails) and training materials into the respective languages will also help. You can also train employees on the English language and help them use it effectively.
Physical barriers can be overcome by training your managers, supervisors, and heads on dealing effectively with their subordinates. These training programs focus on several aspects such as giving proper feedback, conducting performance review meetings, coaching and mentoring skills, grooming future leaders, etc.
With most organizations today spread all across the globe, online training programs cut down the costs and logistics associated with classroom trainings. Employees also prefer short training bursts they can access from anywhere without having to be tethered to their desks. With technology making huge advancements, different learning interventions are available today which cater to individual preferences.
Employees can view short videos, listen to podcasts, or access micro modules from their Smartphones, iPads, or any device of their choice while on the move. This provides just-in-time access to information, thereby maximizing the impact of learning.
E-learning modules can serve as refreshers or build on classroom sessions and focus on in-depth topics. Online training modules are a very good medium to increase learner engagement by incorporating elements such as scenario-based learning and gamified elements. Updating online modules and translating them into other languages is very easy too and cuts downs the delays and costs associated with classroom sessions.
Today, employees seek social collaboration and for ways to stay connected with friends and areas of interest. E-learning answers this need too. These online courses can provide links to discussion forums, chat rooms and other sites where employees can meet others with similar interests, discuss issues, talk to SMEs and participate in online events. Similarly, leaderboards in games are a very good way of motivating learners and appreciating top performers.
If every individual in an organization takes personal responsibility to make sure he works in complete effectiveness with his or her co-worker, no matter how many barriers come in the way, a responsible employee will always know how to overcome them.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2010 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.