How To Overcome Communication Barriers

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The importance of effective communication

Communication may seem like an everyday part of our lives, as simple and essential as breathing or eating. However, it plays an extremely vital role in how well we relate with others. It takes effort and practice to communicate effectively. Effective communication helps us succeed at work and in our personal lives.

There are several aspects of our attitude and behavior that impact how we communicate with others. For example, the way we listen, the assumptions we make, and the notions we have about people dictate how we approach the process of communication. As a result, most barriers of communication are a consequence of poor listening skills.

Overcoming Communication Barriers

  • Assumptions are clearly among the biggest culprits that hamper good communication. It is the habit of coming to a conclusion and assuming you have understood a message even before you have fully heard the other person. You need to avoid your own experiences and interpretations overriding the communication. Instead, it would help if you practiced listening with an open mind, free of your thoughts until you hear the whole message.
  • Distractions such as your mobile phone, eyes on the computer monitor, or trying to multi-task when conversing with someone is a definite communication barrier. On the other hand, if you are pressed for time or faced with an urgent deadline, request a break, finish other tasks, and then give them your full attention.
  • Jargon in speech or written communication can lead to misinterpretations and misunderstandings. Keeping communication straightforward is always the best way to get your message across.
  • Emotions can play spoilsport in good communication. Mood swings, emotional instabilities, conflicting opinions, or sensitive workplace issues need handling with utmost care. Being prepared for the emotional reactions of others or preparing yourself beforehand to deal with intense encounters help overcome this form of barrier.
  • Noise barriers are pretty commonplace distractions that interrupt our day-to-day communication. They are not always literal noises but also take on latent forms. You may be watching someone else, or trying to eavesdrop into a conversation in an adjacent room, or the sound of a drill- anything that distracts us from the task at hand. These are surround-noises that one has to learn how to ignore and stay focused on the conversation.
  • Prejudiced opinions often lead us to hear what we want to hear rather than what is being said. The listener’s prejudices and pre-conceived notions can lead to stereotyping and hence becomes a barrier to communication. For good communication to occur, one has to consciously strive to keep an open mind to all situations and people, disregarding earlier experiences or what you may have heard about them. It is essential, especially for those of us dealing with demanding associates or clients.
  • Cultural differences, especially in a country like India or international colleagues and clients, can quickly take on the shape of a communication barrier. Norms for social interaction and expressions may differ significantly by culture or even in social settings. We must be fully aware of and accept these differences and learn to align our communication styles with people we need to deal with, regardless of where they hail from or how they choose to communicate.

In the end, it is about paying attention.

The most efficient way to overcome communication obstacles is to improve your listening skills. It is about staying focused and with an open mind. In good communication, it does not matter if someone is an extrovert or an introvert, as long as you remain ambivert in your approach to people. Listening more than you speak and immediately clarifying what you haven’t understood go a long way to enhance the quality of communication. Being able to rise above all distractions, learning to relate, and staying on the same page with people around you sharpen your communication skills.

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