Barriers to Communication

Communication, or lack thereof, can cause many issues within companies and companies need to be aware of potential barriers to communication.

So what do we mean by barriers to communication?
In general, these barriers include physical separation as well as differences in status, gender, culture and language. These barriers can manifest in multiple ways by either distorting or preventing the communication from happening.

Types of barriers:

  • Rigid adherence to organizational charts. Organizational charts do not truly define how communication in an organization occurs as organizational charts imply communication should only flow vertically. The fact is, communication must flow across organizational and functional units as well.
  • Management isolation. Do the VPs and managers make themselves accessible to the entire team, no matter what level? Do managers walk the “four corners” or stay in their offices waiting for employees to come to them? By leaders taking an active role to walk the company and check in on their people, they can ask questions such as what are they working on, any challenges they may have, etc. This simple act will help to remove barriers to communication and open a new dialogue.
  • The development of caste systems or silos. The caste system or silos create artificial barriers that inhibit communication amongst the team as a whole. Perceived hierarchies and/or working in a silo can be detrimental to communication.
  • Consistency of words and actions. Are the actions of your organization consistent with its policies and what they say they are going to do? One way to create distrust amongst the team is to over-promise and under deliver – particularly if the communication is not transparent and lacks clarity.
  • Perception. We live in a world of self-generating beliefs, which remain largely untested. We adopt those beliefs because they are based on conclusions, which are inferred from what we observe, plus our past experience. Our ability to achieve the results we truly desire is eroded by our feelings that:
    • Our beliefs are the truth.
    • The truth is obvious.
    • Our beliefs are based on real data.
    • The data we select is the real data.

Right or wrong, employees are using their own perceptions and past experiences to “fill in the blanks” when communications are not clear or feedback loops are not provided.

A review of internal communications and the development of an internal communications plan, or the revision of an existing plan, can help alleviate these issues by hopefully eliminating miscommunication and misunderstandings.

Want to learn more about internal communication? Give us a call today.