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The process of communication involves the transmission of information from one party to another and it becomes effective if both parties have a common understanding. In an ideal situation, the communication is effective once information transmitted and received. However, there are barriers which could affect ideal situation and disrupt smooth communication. On the other hand, communication is effective through the responsibility of both the sender and the receiver. The receiver has the responsibility of ensuring effective listening so as to receive proper communication. Therefore in this research paper we shall examine the barriers to effective communication so as to understand their exact influence on effective communication. Moreover, we shall examine effective listening and its importance in an effective communication.
Barriers to Effective Communication
The process of communication has become so complex to an extent that there should be due caution to ensure effective communication. According to Tulsian (n. d.), the barriers to effective communication are those factors that interfere with the smooth flow of information by creating obstacles and as such should be avoided as much as possible. These barriers originate from either the sender or receiver or the situations of communication. The communication barriers to communication that happen during the process of communication may create a misunderstanding and confusion to the listener or reader that might result in communication breakdown. The interference of communication process through any barrier causes complication to the process and distorts the information (Rizvi, 2005).
The barriers to the effective communication are generated by several factors that we shall discuss. The first cause is improper coding where the receiver is not able to follow the dialect used. The improper coding of the message causes the receiver not to understand the information which leads to ineffective communication. Therefore it is of high significance for the sender of the information to understand the knowledge of the receiver so as to use proper communication code that will be understood. This is similar to inappropriate choice of medium and linguistic form used which has a potential of causing communication breakdown due to misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the coded information (Rizvi, 2005).
The other barrier to effective communication is "bypassing" which is the term used to refer to the misinterpretation that occurs out of missed meaning due to the use of words and phrases that are abstract making the sender and the receiver not to agree. This barrier is most common in communication because it may be difficult to the sender to know which words cannot be understood by the receiver and as such should be resolved for an effective communication. This factor implies that the different words are understood differently by various individuals depending on their age, education and cultural backgrounds. Therefore it is of importance to understand the background of your audience and ensure usage of familiar words with sufficient meaning that do not confuse the receiver (Rizvi, 2005). The communication breakdown caused by bypassing is common in schools whereby the instructors may use vocabulary that is not understood by the learners making them difficult to understand certain lessons of their curriculum.
The physical distraction is another barrier to effective communication because it directly affects the concentration of both the sender and the receiver. The common example is a classroom that has very high temperatures without an air-conditioner that make the tutors as well as learners not to be comfortable. The discomfort makes the communicating parties to be poor in delivering as well as receiving information. The tutor will not speak effectively and the learners will not be in a position to listen carefully due to the hot environment. Therefore individuals should avoid physical distractions for effective communication (Rizvi, 2005).
The frame of reference causes interference to effective communication because of the fact that an individual views and interpret others from their own point of view that allows preconceived ideas and narrow-mindedness. The fact is that personal frame of reference is based on individual's experiences, exposure, education and other factors that are unique from one person to another. Therefore it is important that the sender of information becomes sensitive to the receiver and should consider that their positions are not necessarily similar. Thus every communication should be viewed independently in all circumstances to allow effective communication (Rizvi, 2005).
In addition, the psychological and emotional interference is another barrier to effective communication because it causes lack of interest and concentration. The examples of these feelings are depression, fear, annoyance, nervousness and delight which affect our understanding of other persons' ideas. It is important that an individual should not be emotionally charged whenever he is participating in a communication process since it is based on rationality and reason. The rise of emotions might affect the encoding as well as decoding of information making difficult for an individual to focus on the substance of the message (Rizvi, 2005).
The intercultural differences have a negative influence on the communication process because of varying interpretations of the same messages by different cultures. Therefore whenever the sender and receiver are from different culture, they have a potential of misunderstanding and as such should be able to use a common language. This is because cultures have a strong influence on individuals' behavior including the process of sending and receiving information. Therefore it is significant that the different parties to an effective communication take into consideration their cultural differences and use the means of communication understood well across the parties (Rizvi, 2005).
The status of the communicator is considered another barrier to effective communication because the message received can be considered in terms of the sender's character traits with special attention regarding merit. The expertise and the trust of the sender is crucial for proper communication because people might ignore those people of lower status and imagine that they do not have a proper understanding of a subject. This barrier makes the managers of organization to device means of winning trust of their subordinates for effective motivation in the management of operations (Ferreira, Erasmus & Groenewald, 2010).
Also, the defensive behavior of the sender or recipient has a negative effect on communication. This defensive attitude by a single party to communication could be seen through facial expressions and body reactions which may cause the other party to develop aggressive attitude and finally break the communication process. This is because whenever people become defensive they concentrate on what they have to say themselves hence giving no attention to what is being said by the other person causing communication interference. The communication has to be two way for it to be effective and as such a defensive attitude is a definite barrier to effective communication (Ferreira et al., 2010).
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Poor listening is another barrier to effective communication. It is important that the message receiver should be good listener whereas the sender should be effective communicator. The failure to listen actively could result in misunderstanding or misinterpretation of facts communicated. Therefore it is absolutely important that the communicating parties should listen for the message content, listen for feelings, respond to feelings, note all clues and paraphrase and restate. When there is active listening within a communication system, an effective communication is achieved (Ferreira et al., 2010).
Moreover, the failure of openness and trust among the communicating persons has a serious effect to effective communication. Where there is lack of trust and openness, poor relationship is developed leading to ineffective communication. The mutual trust developed makes parties to open up to each other and communicate all their feelings and emotions which allow proper handling of issues without any withholding of information. For instance, an organization's management should be open to their subordinates in all matters concerning their work and maintain open doors for their grievances so as to allow effective communication within the work environment (Ferreira et al., 2010).
The communication network disruption is a barrier to effective communication because it causes interruption to the information flow. This network could be any media used for the purpose of communication including the internet, telephones or communication equipments which may fail to operate normally. The failure could be caused by normal breakdowns or human error out of jealousy by the professional competitors who would disrupt communication for self benefits. The organizations are usually affected by network disruptions because they are supposed to pass messages from one department to another frequently for the purposes of operations coordination (Ferreira et al., 2010).
The other barrier of effective communication in organizations is the time pressure and information overload. When information is not passed within the required time it may lead to quick formulation to meet the deadline making it less detailed and missing crucial elements for effective communication. On the other hand, when the information passed is too big to be processed by the recipient, it becomes a communication barrier because all the information will not be responded accordingly. Therefore it is important that the information to be passed has sufficient time and that the recipient should be in a position to process the same (Ferreira et al., 2010).
When we look at the learning institutions or organizations, the other barrier to effective communication is boring presentation. The passage of information, especially large, requires that the audience must be active and lively for them to understand a presentation way of communication. This means that if a presentation is boring it interferes with the concentration which leads to ineffective communication. This calls for different presenters to design sessions of presentations that are not too long and allow audience to participate effectively (Kroehnert, 2000).
The non-operational training aid in schools is another cause of barrier to effective communication. This is when the training aid does not produce the desired results causing the learners to lose interest in learning process. Therefore for effective communication using training aids, it is important that they are tested before being used for training (Kroehnert, 2000). The list of barriers to effective communication is not limited to the above but any other factor that causes misunderstanding between different people and groups.
Listening is a complex process that combines hearing, seeing, comprehending and interpretation of information received in the process of communication. It differs from hearing which is simply the physical perception of sound. The listening process completes effective communication and is equally important just like the transmission of information. In the globalized world, poor listening can negatively affect the business performance and as such many organizations have considered hiring employees, who listen carefully to all stakeholders (Battell, 2006).
The poor listening could result in negative performances which include; wasted meeting time, unresolved problems, wrong decisions, lost sales, inaccurate orders and shipments, unmet deadlines, lawsuits, poor employee morale and angry misinformed customers or staff. However, listening with full attention allows effective communication which creates greater productivity, excellence, smooth relationships as well as improved innovation (Battell, 2006). Therefore organizations have to put a lot of emphasis on listening skills for their employees because it has direct effect on the company performance.
An effective listening process is not passive but rather requires an individual to put a lot of effort and motivation which leads to an effective listener. The effective listening is important in resolving a lot of business challenges although problem solving is not limited to listening. The poor listening of employees and managers has negative effect on organizations as well as individual career advancement. The only challenge to poor listening is that it is more noticeable to others than to the poor listener who may not really be in a position to know their listening problems. Although effective listening takes a lot of effort, the resulting effects on effective communication are worth the great work (Hamilton, 2007).
Payoffs of Effective Listening
There are several advantages of effective listening which we shall discus a few of them though not exhaustive. The first is that effective listeners realize the values, needs, expectations and goals of their employers. With effective listening, employees are in a position to understand what motivates their superiors, subordinates as well as colleagues. This fact would allow individuals to recognize that their expectations are either similar or different and adjust their performances so as to facilitate the organization's goals as well as own individual aspirations and other employees (Hamilton, 2007).
With effective listening, an organization is able to develop better management-employee relations. This is achieved because when employees feel that their managers are listening and responding to them accordingly they tend to develop good interpersonal relationships. Good listening does not mean that all the requests of the employees are granted but rather the fact that employees feel that they have been listened to makes them satisfied with the management. Therefore, even if the managers are not in a position to grant employee wishes, it is important that they consider the concerns of their subordinates and understand them creating a very good understanding within an organization (Hamilton, 2007).
The better decisions are made in emergency situations wherever an organization has a good listening culture among its stakeholders. There are instances that instructions about emergency situations are given such as how to evacuate an aircraft in an emergency situations. Although this information is given regularly to the travelers, there are those who pay less attention in listening while others are ever attentive. The research has shown that those who pay attention to instructions are more likely to make quick decisions whenever an emergency situation arises as compared to poor listeners. Therefore those who listened carefully to instructions were safer in emergency situations than those who did not pay sufficient attention (Hamilton, 2007).
The other importance of effective communication is that it enables individuals to learn from experiences of others. Those managers as well as employees who listen carefully notice that individuals of the organization experience similar problems and as such learn from them whenever they are faced with similar situations. Therefore the process of listening attentively makes one to learn from others success while avoiding their mistakes (Hamilton,2007). The list of importance of effective listening is not limited to the above reasons.
According to Cook & Cook (1999), there is a system of effective listening that involves three processes. The first is to receive information and understand which is crucial that a person be prepared, calm and avoid assuming what the speaker is saying. It is important that the listener probes whenever information is not clear and maintain concentration and focus on the speaker. The second process is to reflect on the information heard and understand the meaning of the speaker. Finally, the listener should rephrase by returning what you have heard to the source just like an image. By rephrasing you are able to make sure that you have understood the information. The process should be done thoughtfully and should result in an effective communication.
Therefore we have found out that process of communication involves the transmission of information from one party to another and it becomes effective if both parties have a common understanding. This is achieved through the elimination of various barriers to effective communication and through effective listening. Thus we can conclude that effective communication is an important process in any organization as well as society and that all persons should learn how to communicate and listen effectively.