If you work in a company, you will know how difficult it is to reach a compromise between several people. Meetings, e-mails, newsletters, informal chats – these are all situations where we interact with colleagues. And for an organisation to function, these kinds of communications between people need to happen. Most of the time, these communications lead to misunderstandings. That is, there is a lack of effective communication in the workplace. Misunderstandings need to be resolved in order to remain focused on the company’s tasks. It is important to know what are the barriers to effective communication in the workplace and how to solve them.
Of course, communicating is not easy. However, there are many studies on how to make interpersonal understanding easier. As a result, communication in a company will become more efficient. This is because employees will spend less time debating, and more time implementing decisions. As a result, organizations will be more efficient, employees will be happier and mistakes will be kept to a minimum.
- Effective communication is essential for a company. It helps all processes to be done in the right way, creating greater efficiency. This translates into fewer errors and happier customers.
- Being able to break down barriers to effective communication is beneficial to the company.
- Communication within a company must be constantly monitored and should be a priority for every employer.
What you need to know about effective communication in the workplace
Effective communication is essential for companies. The exchange between employees is a way to inform about the company’s situation. For this reason, organizations are increasingly demanding this type of skill when hiring. Rather, in addition to the technical requirements, the ability to communicate is highly valued. However, this is not enough. It turns out that, as skilled as we all are, we don’t all communicate in the same way. There are different unspoken ways of communicating that come into play. Below, we will discuss some barriers that can interfere with effective business communication.
What are the barriers to effective communication in the workplace?
To begin with, it is important to know what is meant by effective communication.
“Language is the tool that enables people to express their ideas, thoughts, and feelings. It is materialized through verbal signs, producing communication.
Language and communication are closely related to each other, where language applies signs and communication uses different elements where linguistic signs are configured.
For communication to be configured, it must take place within a suitable context where language is applied as a clear message.” (1)
In other words, for communication to be effective, both participants must agree on the language and context. After all, communication is effective when a message can be clearly conveyed. Without a doubt, effective communication in a company is indispensable because it enables everyone to perform their tasks correctly. Therefore, we will now tell you which are the most common barriers to effective communication.
This barrier is not only from a linguistic point of view. This means that there is a barrier to interaction between two or more people because they do not speak the same language. But often, because they live in different parts of the same country, different dialects are used. The same happens with people who speak the same language but in different countries.
These problems also exist within companies. Especially between different generations, because the language keeps changing, and the younger people adopt new expressions in their vocabulary (2).
Naturally, when people from different cultures interact with each other, different cross-cultural issues are likely to occur. Conflict often occurs because people do not know each other or share different values or beliefs. Depending on the environment where a person grew up, it is the culture that is deeply rooted in that person. With globalization, many activities have been adopted and regularly repeated in other countries. However, there are still issues that are specific to certain places.
At the same time, companies are becoming more and more globalized, too. This means that there are more and more cultural exchanges between people from different countries. It is therefore very important to know how to avoid such mistakes in a business or work situation.
If we are talking about something physical, we are probably talking about distances. And it is, par excellence, the physical barrier we may encounter in an attempt to communicate. This does not mean that we should shout from a first-floor office to a second-floor office in order to communicate. We hope not. Instead, distances often force us to search for ways to “get closer” and communicate. Such communication channels can be interrupted. For example, a mobile phone with no signal, or a construction site in the same building that does not allow meetings to take place.
Remote work has its own set of barriers that face-to-face work doesn’t deal with, or does so less. For example, cuts in the Wi-Fi network, external noise in calls, and distractions at home.
This type of barrier is related to the state of mental health of the participants. If any of them are demotivated, lacking in confidence or ignored, there will be problems.
Therefore, employees must feel motivated, supported and valued. To keep this barrier to a minimum.
Technology is a very helpful tool. However, it can become a barrier. This happens when people do not know how to use the device. However, this can also happen in situations where the hardware fails. Or the software is outdated and does not work properly.
At work, it is important to train people about the tools they are going to use, so that all team members know how to perform their tasks. It enables smoother communication and an increase in self-esteem for people who lack the knowledge of how to use technology. This generates greater motivation among workers (3).
Organisational barriers are, redundantly, organisational. This means that they are more likely to be found in a company, for example. But everyone knows that we all live in organisations all the time. The family is an organisation, schools, clubs and so on. However, we are going to focus on a business aspect.
This type of barrier is very common in companies. This happens when the people who form the company don’t know the processes well. In other words, they don’t know what to do with certain information, or who to contact. This leads to delays in tasks, disorder and, as a consequence, errors. As a result, companies should organize their structures in such a way that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities. Moreover, it is advisable to remind them of this from time to time.
What are the barriers to communication in a company?
As we were saying, the fact that there are barriers to effective communication generates interruptions in the flow of understanding. This applies to any area of life, including companies.
In a company, smooth communication is necessary. That is because if there are misunderstandings, there are mistakes, and these mistakes result in losses.
For good communication in a company, it is necessary to maintain a set of qualities. If one of them is missing, you can say that there are barriers. People should have these qualities, they are necessary skills. They can be defined as key competencies.
“Key competencies: set of behaviors that express the psychosocial skills of leadership, teamwork and conflict management, and resolution that a person develops in the exercise of a role, a task, or a function, whatever the field of activity.” (1)
Leadership, teamwork, and conflict management are classified as key competencies for organizational communication. Leadership is understood as having the ability to manage relationships. In other words, to positively influence people to work with enthusiasm and for the common good. Teamwork is about being able to integrate the resources of the team to be productive. Teamwork involves leveraging the talents of each team member to achieve even greater results. Finally, conflict management. This may be the most underrated point, but it is still the most relevant. It is necessary to be able to make decisions in times of pressure. These decisions must be assertive and produce positive returns. Failure to possess this competence can lead to delays and misunderstandings in the workplace.
What are the benefits of effective communication at work?
|Good working environment||This is what a company should aspire to. It makes communication between employees flow smoothly. This way, the atmosphere becomes pleasant, and it encourages teamwork and good relations between employees.|
|More efficient companies||When communication flows, companies grow. Effective communication within the company means that errors are minimised. If communications are poor, it will result in wasted time. This results in wasted money and, consequently, a bad working environment.|
|Employee satisfaction||They will feel recognised within the company, because of the friendly atmosphere. Employees are more willing to work, and this translates into work motivation. In turn, this leads to a reduction in absenteeism.|
What type of communication is most effective at work?
Nowadays, there are many channels of communication used by companies. Thanks to innovations, new forms of communication have become possible. It may sound like a good thing. However, the more forms of communication, the more complicated it becomes to implement. Therefore, companies are advised to use the ones that make sense for their organization. Not all companies are the same, as there are different sizes, cultures, and people. So there can be different barriers to effective communication.
Some forms of effective communication most used by companies today are:
- E-mail through the intranet network.
- Video calls.
- Group meetings of the work team.
- Individual meetings.
- Commonly used platforms such as Slack.
Remote work: How to have effective communication within the organization?
Remote working is now a common practice in organizations. Indeed, there are many companies where a large part of their staff works remotely. It is clear that such companies need to communicate internally, even more than face-to-face companies. That is because companies need interaction between their members in order to function. And in remote work this interaction, if they do not engage in it, does not exist. This can translate into a barrier to effective communication.
Many applications have emerged on the market to enable this interpersonal relationship between employees. There are both free and paid versions. So regardless of the size of the company, everyone can have access to a solution to their internal communication.
Among the most popular this year are:
Read more about Microsoft Teams
How to develop a strategy to solve communication barriers?
So far, we have talked about what these barriers are, but now we will tell you how to solve them. Human Resources experts raise a series of questions to be taken into account (4):
By having information about them, you can find out what their needs are. Thus, you will be able to design the most effective communication channels for the type of person you are working with. At the same time, you will be able to anticipate possible misunderstandings or problems and implement optimizations if necessary.
Communicate the company’s mission and vision
This should be done before the person joins the company. More precisely, it should be announced during recruitment and selection. This will prevent people who do not feel comfortable with it from continuing in the process. And, in turn, those who work for the company may feel more aligned with it. In any case, we recommend that it is something that is present in the day-to-day work. It can appear on computer wallpapers, for example, or in the decoration of the company.
Engage in out-of-work leisure activities
This allows contact between employees in a more relaxed environment. Employees create another type of bond, being able to understand each other’s behavior. It is also an excellent option to integrate groups.
If you are a boss, probably at some point you were in a lower position in the organization chart. Being able to involve other employees in what is happening in the company is a vital task. This is because they can know what the company’s projects are and where the plans are going. In fact, people can act in pursuit of these objectives, and propose ideas and improvements to achieve them.
Listen carefully to what they have to say
Employees are the ones who are most in touch with the organization on day-to-day issues. That is why they are the best source of diagnostic information about the company. This does not mean that you should do everything they say. But it is important to be able to evaluate those issues that they consider relevant to the company’s performance (5).
Examples of communication barriers
Examples of communication barriers include the following:
- Internet or mobile service downtime.
- Not using the right communication channel, for example, if you send a message by e-mail and the normal means of communication in the company is Slack.
See the best Business Instant Messaging Software
- Lack of empathy. Not understanding the unspoken communication of employees. This can be seen in the exhaustion of employees and continuing to give them work, generating discomfort and discomfort. Undoubtedly, this will create a bad work environment.
- Use of slang that is not understood by all (6).
Achieving effective communication is a challenge. But this does not mean that it cannot be accomplished. Companies must work on a daily basis to ensure that all members of the company are in a friendly atmosphere. Of course, this is one of the most important tasks, because indirectly, as we have seen, it has an impact on all areas of the organisation.
The most appropriate way to do this, therefore, is to know the company where we are working. The fact of being able to unify the understanding of the same language among all employees makes the atmosphere more pleasant. By taking into account the information previously provided, mistakes that interfere with the normal development of a company can be avoided.
1. Fedor G. Communication. Salus [Internet]. 2016
2. Adela de Castro. Organizational communication. Techniques and strategies [Internet]. Google Books. 2013
3. José Castro López et al. Comunica. Lecturas de Comunicación Organizacional [Internet]. Google Books. 2013
4. Pacheco, Ruth. “Key competencies for organizational communication.” Chasqui: Revista latinoamericana de comunicación, 90 (2005): 70-75.
5. Mónica Valle. La Comunicación Organizacional de Cara al Siglo XXI. Razón y palabra. [Journal specialized in communication]. 2003
6. Rubiano G, Arias F, Gómez P. Relationship between communication and organizational change in workers of a tertiary sector company. Diversitas: Perspectives in Psychology [Internet]. 2013.