A great deal of confusion and chaos can be avoided in the world of work, if ‘communication’ could be understood in all its elements, and not just as an isolated concept. Starting from writing emails, to delivering speeches, holding meetings and giving presentations, what is the one thing that they all have in common? No prizes for guessing – communication. Communication – both written and verbal is of prime essence in the world of work. It is the sole aspect which truly can make a difference – for the better, or for the worse – in any given situation.
At OBOlinx, we are constantly brainstorming about how one can perceive communication in a better, more effective manner. While we have written extensively about communication skills, and also about how one can improve them, it made sense to think about the ‘elements’ of communication. Understanding the solution to any problem is effective only when we can look at the elementary aspects of the problem. Once we have broken it down, it becomes easier to address them.
In this post we speak about the possible impediments (in a broad sense) to effective communication, and in the post which is to follow, we will address the critical aspects or elements for communication.
The five main barriers to effective communication :
1. Language issues
This is one of the most basic hindrances to effective communication. While it really might seem most commonsensical to be wary of this error, it still may occur. Most commonly, this happens when you are not fluent, or comfortable in communicating (could be verbal or written), in the chosen language. This might also happen when, as a result of discomfort with the chosen language, you translate using your imagination of the language you are most comfortable with, or the language that you “think” in. In doing so, like most translations, the essence of what you are trying to communicate might be lost.
2. Lack of context/ clarity
Assuming that your audience is already familiar with what you are about to say/ write is another possible obstruction to effective communication. This assumption might lead to a lack of background. As a result, what you try to communicate might sound a bit out of context and there will be a visible lack of clarity. As a result, your communication will be hampered.
The medium and time for communication is as important, as the purpose of the communication itself. This stands defeated if the communicator is unable to figure out whether the time and medium is appropriate and distraction free. Ensuring that the environment is distraction free will help you communicate more effectively. For example, if your audience is already engaged with a task, or if the set up chosen for the occasion is distracting in any way, it might be difficult to have the entire attention of your audience.
This factor relates mostly to the ‘content’ of your communication, and is not very different from the above factor regarding clarity. How you communicate must be completely aligned with what you want to communicate. In case your communication is open to interpretation by your audience, it means that you weren’t very clear in what you wanted to communicate. This may occur in case of over-lap, lack of clarity or lack of context.
5. Being unnecessarily verbose
When wanting to communicate effectively, the purpose must be clear and the aim should be to establish the purpose as swiftly, and simply as possible. Being verbose/ using difficult jargon defeats the very aim of effective communication, as you cannot be sure about how much of the content is processed by your audience. Big and difficult words and sentences always confuse the audience. Keeping it sweet and simple is the best trick.
How does one tackle these five broad issues (there are many other issues which may be clubbed under these broad ones), in order to establish an effective pattern of communication? Watch out for our next post which speaks about this!