Effective Communication in the workplace is a vital part of running a successful business. Communication issues between management and employees, amongst coworkers, between employees and clients or customers, and communication issues when working in a group setting can create conflict that can lead to a loss of productivity and a severe drop in morale. Take a look at the following barriers to communication and keep these barriers and solutions in mind when interacting with your employees and colleagues:

Filtering

This is the process by which a sender manipulates the information to make it look good to the receiver. In other words, telling the receiver what the sender thinks the receiver wants to hear.  Another filtering method is providing the information so as to get the answer desired by the sender.  You can prevent receiving filtered information by asking pertinent questions. Put on the investigator’s hat and strive to obtain the who, what, why, when, where answers.

Selective Hearing

We’ve all seen it, and the majority of us are guilty of doing it. You smile and nod, you say “Yeah” or “Uh huh.” Often we listen, confirm that we heard the message, and agree with the message we are receiving, but don’t truly understand. Mistrust, lacking a frame of reference, or a fear of looking foolish in front of your peers may be some reasons for selective hearing. Ask questions. It is far better to show a genuine interest and make yourself informed than come off as not caring about the conversation/individual.

Selective Perception

Since communication is an interpretive process, receivers may selectively omit information based upon their needs, motivations, experience, background, and other personal characteristics. Receivers also may project their interests and expectations into communication as they decode them. Do not allow your assumptions and perceptions to cloud your interpretations. Do not assume anything that could become validated by asking questions and obtaining feedback from the sender.

Emotions

Our emotional states and our cognitive systems are inseparable. How a receiver feels at the time of communication will influence how he or she interprets the message. The same message, received during times of anger, euphoria, or amusement, will be interpreted distinctly different since emotions color the meaning of the message. If either the sender or receiver is obviously emotionally off balance, suggest that the communication be postponed until both are able to objectively interpret the message.

Language 

Different words have different meanings for different people. For instance, if you were asked to explain what the word family means, you’d likely give a different definition from your coworker.  Not everyone has had the same type of family experience.  It becomes even more confusing when strange or seldom-used words are employed in a message. Use simplified sentence structure and as many single syllable words as possible.  Technical jargon will create immediate misunderstanding.

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