10 Strategies to Overcome Communication Barriers in the Workplace

10 Strategies to Overcome Communication Barriers in the Workplace
Communication barriers have proven to hinder information from being passed across successfully.

Communication is a fundamental part of human existence and plays a huge role in our daily lives. In the work environment, communicating with our colleagues, superiors, upper management, clients, and other external parties is inevitable because the success of any organization depends heavily on effective communication.

Communication in the workplace fosters development in addition to creating and maintaining cooperation among employees.

The overarching goal of this article is to identify the communication problems at the workplace and how to overcome them.

What is Communication?

The process of passing knowledge and mutual understanding from one person to another is known as communication (Keyton, 2011). Sapungan, et al. (2018) explain that communication connects people as human beings and is also one of the most important concerns in life.

According to Duncan and Moriarty (as cited in Asamu, 2014), communication is a human activity that joins individuals and forms relationships.

In the context of the workplace, Price (as cited in Ayatse & Ikyanyon, 2012) characterized organizational communication as how much data about the activity is transmitted by an organization to its individuals and among individuals from the organization. This implies that people relate with one another through the medium of communication.

Chen et al. (2005) demonstrated that workplace communication gathers the employees together as one in a corporation. It is the rope that ties individuals together in an organization. However, some factors might result in the emergence of communication issues in the workplace.

This leads us to talk about poor communication. The repercussions of poor communication in the workplace can be severe and widespread which contributes to;

  • Stress.
  • Delay or failure to complete a project.
  • Low morale.
  • A Missed performance goal.
  • Obstacles to innovation.
  • Failure to close a sale.
  • Slower career progression.
  • Loss of a client.
  • Disciplinary action.

Once we understand the effect of poor communication, we need to deal with its cause to avoid it. Therefore, the causes of poor communication include;

  • Different communication styles.
  • Unclear responsibilities.
  • Time pressures.
  • Lack of strong leadership.
  • Personal differences among colleagues.
  • Client demands.
  • Corporate culture.
  • Ineffective tools/technologies.
  • Financial pressures.
  • Use of jargon.

Poor workplace communication may result in discontented workers who doubt their abilities and the company. Employees who lack access to good workplace communication may feel isolated and undervalued.

Let’s have a quick look at how successful communication helps company growth.

Effective communication is vital in any business as it ensures that information flows seamlessly between the parties involved, such as management, employees, and clients. Misunderstandings, dissatisfaction, and lack of trust are minimized through successful communication. Besides, establishing effective communication between employees is essential to establish successful communication with external parties.

Communication is critical in the development of goods, customer interactions, personnel management, and almost every aspect of a company’s operations.

Workplace communication refers to the flow of information between employees in a work setting, which includes face-to-face interactions, emails, chat messaging, videoconferencing, phone calls, and other professional communication technologies.

Nonverbal communication, such as eye contact, body language, and tone of voice, is equally crucial in a work environment. Workplace communication is a means through which employees exchange information and ideas to complete tasks, whether in person or digitally and is an integral part of an organization’s internal communications initiatives.

Effective communication is essential to promote a more unified workforce, develop trust and positivity, boost satisfaction with work and morale, and promote the exchange of ideas that may lead to improved creativity and innovation. Employers or leaders play a crucial role in interacting effectively with those who work under them.

Employers that invest time and energy in good communication frequently foster employee trust, leading to higher output, productivity, and morale. Leaders who interact successfully with clients and colleagues are seen as valuable assets to an organization. By improving communication, leaders may better understand their employees’ abilities and skills and provide clear directions to the individuals most suited to the task, raising the overall efficacy of each project.

What is a Communication Barriers?

Communication barriers can be defined as disruptions in the flow of information and the development of difficulties in comprehending and understanding a specific message.

Communication barriers in the workplace existed long before the COVID-19 pandemic but have become more apparent in recent years due to the rise of multigenerational workplaces, remote work, scattered workforces, the introduction of new communication technologies, and varying employee expectations.

Communication barriers can hinder effective communication, resulting in misunderstandings, inefficiencies, and workplace conflicts.

Moving forward, Let’s explore the different forms of communication barriers.

Forms of Communication Barriers.

Effective communication is important for avoiding misunderstandings, but some barriers can hinder communication. Here are some common communication barriers:

1. Language Barrier.

According to Easy Management Notes (n.d.), linguistic barriers are one of the major barriers to efficient communication in the workplace, as various employees will have varying language abilities that may affect the organization’s operations. It causes poor communication, significant business risks, and concern.

Differences in language can make it hard to understand each other. It’s important to choose the language that is appropriate for the audience and ensure everyone understands the terms used.

2. Cultural Barrier

According to research, the cultural barrier is the organization’s most challenging, especially those with diverse teams. Employees from various cultures may have different communication styles, beliefs, and expectations, making it difficult for them to comprehend one another.

People from different cultures may communicate differently, leading to misunderstandings. It’s important to be aware of cultural differences to bridge communication gaps.

3. Physical Barrier

Physical barriers such as loud workplaces, restricted access to communication technologies, or a lack of privacy can hurt communication between employees. These barriers may cause difficulty focusing, resulting in lower productivity and increased frustration. Moreover, physical barriers can create obstacles for employees to participate in meaningful conversations and collaborate successfully with one another. Barriers such as distance, noise, or poor lighting can make communication more challenging by impairing people’s ability to hear, see, or engage effectively in conversation.

4. Poor Listening Skills.

When an individual cannot listen well, they may fail to comprehend the message being conveyed, which could cause a breakdown in communication.

5. Lack of Clarity and Precision.

Unclear messages can create confusion, misunderstandings, and even conflicts. It’s crucial to be precise and clear when expressing thoughts or ideas.

6. Emotional Barriers.

Strong emotions like stress, anxiety, or anger can interfere with communication. These emotions can make it difficult to articulate oneself coherently or to understand others.

7. Information Overload.

If a person is given too much information, they may find it challenging to process and prioritize it. Such an overload can result in selective perception, causing them to miss crucial details.

8. Lack of Feedback.

Without feedback, communicators may not know whether their message has been understood. Constructive feedback is essential for confirming comprehension and addressing any misconceptions.

9. Perceptual Differences.

People have different perspectives and experiences that can influence how they interpret messages. Misunderstandings may result from differences in personal experiences, values, or expectations.

10. Technological Distractions.

Overreliance on technology or misuse of communication tools can lead to distractions and miscommunications. Technical issues, such as poor internet connectivity or device malfunctions, can disrupt communication, leading to delays or incomplete messages.

The Effect of Communication Barriers to the Workplace.

When communication barriers exist, it has a major negative effect on various aspects of the business.

  1. The biggest effect of communication barriers in the workplace is reduced productivity. Lack of communication between staff in an organization may lead to disagreement that might prevent the successful completion of several projects. 
  2. Communication barriers result in misunderstandings. Misunderstandings become a normal occurrence especially when the intended message from the sender is not accurately received or interpreted by the receiver. Unclear instructions, vague messages, or jargon that everyone does not understand can cause employees to misinterpret what is expected of them, leading to errors and inefficiencies.
  3. Communication barriers lead to low morale among the employees. According to Grossman (2022), employees desire a sense of belonging to the organization. They will put on 100% effort when they feel connected to the organization. This connection can only happen when communication is understood and passed across. They are willing to work harder, smarter, and be more involved in the workplace in ways that produce business success when they are.
  4. Effective communication promotes teamwork which means poor communication leads to ineffective teamwork. One of the specific aspects of ineffective teamwork is a lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities. When there are communication barriers, team members may not completely grasp their roles and duties within the teamThis can lead to repeated efforts, tasks falling through the cracks, or even key obligations being missed.
  5. Communication barriers might hinder interactions with clients and customers. The sole purpose of a business is to make a profit. If an organization is unable to communicate properly with its clients, this would eventually give the business a bad image and may lead to bankruptcy.

The Effect of Communication Barriers to the Workplace.

How to Overcome Communication Barriers in the Workplace.

Creating an optimistic and productive work environment is crucial for any business to succeed. These several practical suggestions can help overcome communication barriers.

  1.  Choosing a calm and peaceful setting is essential when speaking to someone in person. Avoid noisy areas or places with too many distractions to avoid communication barriers.
  2. When repeating explanations, be patient and take the time to ensure that others have heard and understood the context of the message. This will avoid any confusion or misunderstandings that can lead to further problems.
  3. Another important step is to address any technological issues that might be causing disruptions in the workplace. By identifying and fixing the root cause of the problem, you can eliminate unnecessary noise and distractions, allowing employees to focus on their work.
  4. When composing messages, ensure they are clear and concise, and contain relevant information that speaks to the reader’s interests. This will help avoid unnecessary noise or clutter that can cause confusion and frustration.
  5. Employees can also take proactive steps to resolve technological issues by maintaining their communication devices. For instance, they can test the audio and video quality before joining a conference call and debug software applications before participating in crucial online talks. By doing so, they can prevent any technological glitches that might cause disruptions during important meetings.
  6. It’s important to choose the right medium when communicating with coworkers. Using a medium with the least noise and distractions is vital to ensure effective communication.
  7. Organizations should encourage empathy and emotional intelligence among their staff members.  Conflicts may be resolved more constructively when employees understand and empathize with the viewpoints of others, producing a pleasant work environment.
  8. Establishing a regular timetable that enables coworkers to communicate with one another, regardless of their location. This will help eliminate delays or disruptions caused by different time zones or work schedules.
  9. Organizations or companies should invest in communication skills training for employees at all levels. Communication skills training can include topics such as active listening, assertiveness, and conflict resolution.
  10. Finally, sending recordings of discussions to unavailable parties can help ensure awareness of the message’s context. This will help avoid any misunderstandings or confusion that might arise when someone is unable to attend a meeting or discussion.

As we conclude our research into workplace communication barriers, it’s evident that effective communication is the cornerstone of organizational success.

By understanding how communication works, identifying barriers, and using smart solutions, we can improve teamwork, productivity, and overall job satisfaction.


Leave a comment