Busting Communication Barriers

Did you know that there are many different types of communication barriers we have to face in our lives? Attitudinal barriers, systematic barriers, physical barriers, physiological barriers, psychological barriers, language barriers, and many more. Here are some easy things to remember that I have used in my own personal life to help facilitate effective communication:

  • Use less jargon. Speak with words that people will understand. Try not to use abbreviations because not everyone knows what they stand for.
  • If you know someone has a hearing impairment, try to reduce any significant background noise so clear communication is possible.
  • Even if you are having a bad day, try your best to not take your troubles out on other people.
  • Be respectful of the distance between you and the person with whom you are communicating. Try to not keep too much space between you and the receiver of your discussion so that you hear what the other person is saying and are able to respond in a timely matter without having them repeat themselves.
  • Ask questions if you are unclear. There is no such thing as a bad question!
  • Motivate yourself to turn negative issues/discussions into positive ones. Picture a stop sign when you feel the conversation is becoming overwhelming and then try to redirect the content to be more positive. This is hard to do but as with everything, practice makes perfect.
  • Remember that you are an individual and your opinion and thoughts matter. Even if you have a personality conflict with the person you are talking with, do your best to smile and engage in light conversation. Simple yes and no answers are okay, especially when you are unsure of the words to use.
  • Continuously remind yourself that empathy can be used in a positive manner to let the other person know that you care about what they are saying regardless of the situation.
  • Try to avoid expectations and prejudices because they can lead to false assumptions or stereotyping. People often hear what they expect to hear rather than what is actually said. Make sure to speak slowly and clearly to avoid jumping to incorrect conclusions.
  • Social interactions can vary greatly in different cultures as do the way in which emotions are expressed. For example, the concept of personal space varies between cultures and between different social settings. Some people do not like to be touched so hugging would be considered inappropriate in their culture. Always ask permission before expressing physical emotions such as hugging. Even if hugging is not a cultural barrier but makes you feel uncomfortable, make sure to relay that information as politely as possible by offering a handshake or a high-five instead.
  • Language differences and unfamiliar accents can make it difficult to understand. Ask people to repeat themselves. It’s a lot easier to have a dialogue with someone if you ask them to repeat themselves because you didn’t understand them. It is not a bad thing to let people know that you aren’t used to their accent and might not have heard them correctly. This verifies that you are listening and care about what they are saying.