“So the whole war is because we can’t talk to each other,” Orson Scott Card. Ineffective communication is a major risk when working in health care. Both speaker and listener need to be in agreement about the message transmitted between each other. There are many factors that influence the way we communicate, and the intended message may not be understood. A person’s gender, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, age, culture, language, economic status, stereotypes, regional differences and noise are several barriers to effective communication. For communication to be effective, everyone needs to be responsible for clear communication, endeavoring to send and receive clear messages with as little distortion as possible. What is communication?
Communication is a process involving several steps, among two or more people, for the primary purpose of exchanging information. It takes place when people interact in both verbal and nonverbal conversations. To get the point across to a person that is going to be involved in the conversation the information must pass through various channels. There are different steps required to get any information across. The first step is to transmit your idea or message. This begins with the source or the originator of an idea.
The source takes this idea and puts it into a code and then transmits this message through a channel. The channel is a means by which the message is expressed, and there is a variety of channels that can be used. Various channels include phone, face to face, text messages, emails, and even Twitter. Next the receiver takes the message and interprets the code, or decodes it. Once this is done the receiver responds or gives feedback. The message or code can be misinterpreted due to noise or barriers. Communication barrier is what makes communication complex, difficult, and sometimes frustrating.
Communication barriers can have a large impact on getting the message across. People tend to erect barriers hindering their ability to communicate. Physical barriers are defined as the specific area of transmission of communication. There are various kinds of physical barriers like the presence of closed office doors, separator screens, specified cabins, cubes, workstations, sections for people of different status and task or anything that physically separates people from one another. In organizations, physical barriers can be effective in the overall spread of the message.
With a variety of checks and a strong platform, they can avoid encroachment of strangers and create cohesive teams. Emotional barriers are related to the emotions of both the source and receiver. A person’s emotions can have a great effect on their message. When various emotions are involved, the message could be no more than an emotional outburst. People will focus on these emotions rather than focus on the message. The challenge is to examine and evaluate emotional barriers in communication and focus on what the other person is saying.
Cultural barriers are created when people of a different culture communicate. When they communicate there is a tendency to share less information than those of our cultural heritage. Translating messages into words and behaviors is based on a person’s cultural background and is not the same for each person. Culture is a combination of various formative influences placed on us as we grow up. The major factors in this development of culture are religion, caste, creed, nationality, social status, values, beliefs and many such elements. Cultural elements have their big role to play when a person participates in communication. When someone becomes a part of a group and become attached to it, sooner or later, they get adapted to that group in terms of the cultural code of the group. Intercultural communication occurs when people who have different cultural traditions start a conversation. In order for you to have an error-free communication, you need to study and understand the cultural differences of your receiver as well. Technological advancements have made the communication process far more speedy, accurate and smooth.
The development of smart phones and computers has made communication more comfortably accessible. All business practitioners and modern managers understand the importance of multidimensional moving of communication at multi-location stations traveling through innumerous ways of channels and mediums. In the circumstances, when the whole social-networking and business functioning depends on technological tools of communication, it becomes highly significant to operate these tools ensuring that they 14 The IUP Journal of Soft Skills, Vol. VI, No. 3, 2012 are error-free. On the contrary, devices are electronic systems and they keep facing errors now and then, causing unpredictable communication errors in terms of its delivery to the desired end. Sometimes even the accuracy of these gadgets is questioned. The more we depend on these technological tools, the higher the chances are of getting error harms involved in the process.
Sometimes, poor signals or unreceivable frequency of the transmitted messages cause trouble in getting those downloaded or decoded, resulting and leading to the failure of accurate message delivery, and sometimes it becomes tougher to ensure even its partial delivery to anyhow run the activity. Devices like cell phones, Internet and various other technological applications keep facing such errors depriving us of comfortable transaction and transmission of messages. Such system failures and its non-competing performance as desired by the sender or receiver lead to technological noises. The world of language is full of variety and pleasing choices.
In a country of various languages like India, language keeps slightly changing every fifty miles. In the southern part of India, organizations prefer the regional language of communication, while this practice is not found in the northern region of India. Language is a highly important tool to describe our opinion, likes and dislikeness, preferences, thoughts, and ideas while communicating. It is always important to ensure that the language of the sender and the receiver is the same for a successful transmission of communication, but most of the time, language proves to be a potential barrier in the course of communication.
Gender has its own specified impact on the pattern of communication. As has been observed by the researchers, a woman uses approximately 25,000 words a day while talking, whereas a man uses around 10,000 words. As per the various medical reports, the speech ability of girls begins far earlier than boys. There are certain things that the girls cannot express due to gender barrier what boys can do and vise versa. The physiognomy of the boy and girl is responsible for language ability differences. The reason for this lies in the neuronal wiring of a man’s and woman’s brains. The communication model of man remains linear, logical and sectioned, while woman’s expression is a combination of logic and emotion. Normally, during an interaction, woman uses different types of words while explaining any incident, and man uses a different set of words while explaining and describing the same incident. This difference is majorly because of the gender barrier.
Interpersonal barriers comprise differences between the source and the receiver. There may be multiple differences between the encoder and decoder which result either in failure or partial delivery of meaning or content. The success ratio of communication is far higher when the person who communicates and the person who receives it are Comprehensive Modeling of Communication Barriers: A Conceptual Framework 15 on similar wavelength in terms of language, understanding and both ensure alike interpretation of the message in question. The lesser the interpersonal gap, the stronger the chances of communication success.
Noise is an external factor which causes interruption in the flow of communication. There are various types of noises available in the environment blocking the communication flow fully or partially. The major types of noises are discussed in detail in Figure 3.
Description of Components of the Model
Communication is an intricate process which encompasses various ideal conditions for the message to pass through successfully from the sender to the receiver. The factor of noise is very important, as it has been given due representation in almost all the communication models propounded by various researchers. In communication models, noise interference occurs during the decoding process of messages transmitted over a channel by an encoder. There are many examples of noise, and some major noise problems have been discussed in the comprehensive model of noise barriers in Figure 3.
According to Adler (1991), since we are constantly bombarded with more stimuli than we can absorb and more perceptions than we can keep track of, we only perceive those images that may be meaningful. We group perceived images into familiar categories that help to simplify our environment, which become the basis for our interpretations and allow us to function in an otherwise overly complex world.
Environmental noise majorly springs from physical disturbances causing disruptions and creating problems in the smooth flow of communication from one point to another. For example, it is highly difficult to listen or understand the message if the speaker transmits communication from a noisy place like near the loud speaker during party/celebration. Sometimes, it becomes very difficult to respond over the phone or to a person nearby communicating with you if you are at the railway platform or a bus stand as these places are known for high decibels.
Physiological reasons are also effective noise barriers in the communication process. In this category, biological reasons like physical maladies that prevent effective communication, such as actual deafness or blindness are also taken into account. Sometimes intricate problems in clear utterance also cause physiological barriers in the process of communication. In this category, all those physical deficiencies or impairment causing obstruction to clear and smooth flow of communication are taken into account.
The psychology of the source communicator and receiver has its inevitable influence on the process of communication. The final shape of a thought or opinion does undergo structural changes based on the psychology of the person who communicates. The psychology is such an important factor that it sometimes makes the opinion of one person appear differently to the others. Our psychology consists of perception, attitude, vision, experiences, feelings and emotions, including various experiential amalgamations collected from our childhood to adulthood.
The psychological metamorphosis is an ongoing process. The communication pattern and the contextual value of it are very much demonstrations of one’s psychology. Similarity of a psychological approach solves this noise barrier to some extent. Difference in psychology between the sender and receiver magnifies the complexity of psychological noise. Specific mental condition can influence communication. For example, the mood of communicator or receiver naturally influences psychological noise and sometimes severely hampers effective communication.
“As we are different from others in various areas so is our culture. While language and communication systems are part of the culture, and language has often been used as a proxy for culture, the overlap between language and culture is only partial. For example, Comprehensive Modeling of Communication Barriers: A Conceptual Framework 17 Spanish speakers come from a variety of countries with distinct cultures” (Del Pinal and Singer, 1997). Cultural differences cause cultural noises. Taken-for-granted assumptions most of the time cause misunderstanding. Stereotypical assumptions can be potential contributors of cultural noise. Diversity of culture and cultural background is the mother source of noises of this category.
The most significant activity of any organization is a constant flow of communication in multi-directed locations internally and externally. Communication is a constant happening in organizations in various structures, formats and modes channelized at various hierarchical levels. The possibility of lapses in communication always remains very high and needs to be given due care and attention through continuous monitoring. The most common directional flow of communication in the organization is upward and downward. But the horizontal flow is also the integral part of the process. In the cross-functional movement of communication, the poorly structured messages do create a lot of troubles. If a message is poorly crafted by the higher-ups, it might create confusion and improper decoding of the intended meaning. Such types of instances are considered as organizational noise.
Grammar of any language is the base framework to provide a structure to our thoughts and expressions. But converting thoughts at a fast pace and applying suitable grammatical structure to it and ensuring correctness while speedily interacting and exchanging sentences, whether verbal or written, may be difficult at times. Molding thoughts into sentences and at once following the appropriate grammatical pattern is a very intricate process, and sometimes the user of a language does not have the efficiency or dexterity required to do so effectively. For example, when any incident is described by a communicator, he might commit mistakes in altering tenses at a fast pace, which results in syntactical noise. Mistakes in grammar can disrupt communication, leading to syntactical noise.
Most of the times, words have more than one meaning. The context of the interaction also prefixes the preciseness of the meaning of a particular word. Each one of us, as a communicator, has got his own style of using different words in different contexts. Sometimes the meaning of a word is presumed but it is not the intended meaning. Adler (1991) commented that “misinterpretation can be caused by inaccurate perceptions of a person or situation that arise when what actually exists is not seen. It can be caused by an inaccurate interpretation of what is seen; that is, by using my meanings to make sense out of your reality”. Thus, the variety of interpretations causes semantic noise in the communication process. 18 The IUP Journal of Soft Skills, Vol. VI, No. 3, 2012
Communication is an integral and underlying element in any relation, whether personal, social, professional, global or business. Communication is the key factor that helps any business to progress substantially. The advent of new technologies has ensured the availability of efficient tools of communication through which the percolation of message, sending and receiving, has become much faster. Even then, dependence on electronic gadgets begets new system errors, either haulting the communication process or transmitting it inaccurately or after much delay. There are innumerable factors which may disrupt the communication flow, and these disruptions are known as potential barriers or various types of noises causing unexpected interruptions.
The models displayed in the paper are rich resources to monitor the active zones where the barriers might occur and can cause difficulty in the delivery of the message intended. The proposed models describe the barriers in the overall communication process and the respective points at which the probabilities of such disruptions are higher. No doubt, the barriers create complexity, difficulty and interruptions in communication, but the suggested model will naturally help in understanding such undesired occurrences. The conceptual framework does provide an exhaustive understanding of such complex situations caused by barriers and noises and shows how to remove them from the path of communication flow to enjoy constant and accurate flow of communication from one to another or many.
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