Barriers to Effective Communications
Everyone has experienced, at one time or another the frustration of feeling misunderstood and being unable to make ourselves understood by another person. Anything which, blocks the meaning of a communication, is a barrier to communication. Effective communication is like a house built one block at a time. First to build a house trust must be built; trust is not a group process it is created in one to one connections with each individual. Second, be bold and open, better communications are clear, direct, respect, reflective and frequent. And finally, strive to continually overcome the barriers to effective communication, challenge others to grow and educate your self. There are many barriers to effective communication, we will examine four of the main ones, stereotyping, language, showing approval or disapproval, and becoming defensive.
One of the greatest barriers to communication is stereotyping. A stereotype is defined as “A conventional, formulaic, and oversimplified conception, opinion, or image”(www.dictonary.com). When an individual has a preconception about another individual, it makes it difficult for the individual not to view the other individual’s communication with prejudice. Within stereotyping there are many facets in which one hold’s bias views to another individuals message. Of these there are stereotypes for race, religion, and gender. To better understand how stereotyping can hinder effective communication each area needs to be scrutinized in greater detail.
To this day, some people are still judging others by the color of their skin. Racial stereotyping is an extremely detrimental facet of stereotyping. It can very well pave the road to out right racism. Racial stereotyping can create communication barriers on a multitude of levels. A perfect example would be an individual believing he is more intelligent than another due to race alone. That individual would discard all communication from the other individual, thus creating a communication barrier.
In the past few weeks there had been a great many examples of religious stereotypes hindering effective communication. One only needs to look to the Middle East for an example of this. Due to religious stereotypes it took a trip from the president to get the Israelis and Palestinians to start communication after a week filled with bloodshed. The effect of the meeting has still been minimal and this is due largely in part to stereotypes creating communication barriers.
The final major stereotype is based on gender. Many times both men and women discount what the other has to say due to gender stereotypes. Gender bias or sexism is a deep-rooted stereotype that every individual at one time or another has been guilty of. This stereotype severely hinders the ability for many individuals of opposite sexes to communicate effectively.
When an individual interprets another person’s message as threatening, they often react in a defensive way. A common reaction to criticism is for a person to become defensive. Becoming defensive is a natural reaction whether the criticism a person receives is insulting or constructive. Instantly becoming defensive creates a barrier to effective communication. When reacting defensively clear communication may be impaired, instead of listening to what is being said by the other person, the defensive person is preparing to justify their thinking or actions.
It is crucial in the business environment to communicate clearly. When receiving feedback the individual needs to remain calm and think clearly before responding to the other person. Poor listen skills can cause friction between two people. Interpreting information as negative when the information was not intended to be negative can create a communication barrier. By sharpening listening skills an individual can avoid many conflicts with coworkers, this will save a lot of time having to “smooth over” problems that were created due to poor listening skills.
To effectively communicate there needs to be a level of trust among people. Trust must be built one step at a time. A misunderstanding between people can quickly erase all trust. Without trust between people when communication is taking place an individual’s defensives will be up. Being in this defensive state can lead to many conflicts between people. To be successful in the work place a strong level of trust is required. Trust and effective communication among workers can determine the success of a corporation.
There are steps individuals can take to reduce the chances that others will become defensive when they are engaged in conversation. Being encouraging when speaking with others is important. When talking with others make the point you are trying to convey with as much sincerity as possible. People don’t care how much