Sunday, 23 June 2013

Barriers to Effective Communication

Barriers to effective communication can be seen as those factors which militate against the effective communication in any organization. These barriers can exist in any process of communication such as in the sending of the message, transmitting of the message or in receiving of the message. The success of any communication process is retarded if it is faced with the barriers.

        According to Ogunsaju (1983) in a situation where messages are poorly sent or if an action is not effected the system cannot plan or operate properly. He further stressed that as message become more complex, meaning and interpretation become more complicated and more dependent on a common field of understanding between the sender and the receiver. Therefore in order to avoid communication barriers, organization managers must recognize the common difficulties people encounter in trying to understand each other during the communication process.
        According to Dittimiya as cited in Adiotomre and Avwata (2007) barriers to effective communication are classified into four categories and they are as follows:
i.    Intrapersonal Factors: There are two types of barriers under this category. Selective perception and individual differences in communication skills. Selective perception occurs when people block out or distort new information, especially if it conflicts with what they believe. The result is that the receiver interprets the message transmitted quite differently from the intent of the sender. In addition to selective perception, people also differ in their ability to develop and apply basic communication skills. For instance, some people are able to read but find it difficult to comprehend, others are unable to express themselves verbally but are able to write clear and concise messages. When such difficulties exist they are potential barriers to effective communication.
ii.  Interpersonal Factors: This category includes climate, trust, credibility and sender-receiver similarity. Climate refers to the relationship between a superior and a subordinate arising from the attitudes and treatment each receives from the other. The lack of positive relation between the communicator and the receiver may lead to the distortion of the intended messages. Similarly, lack of credibility, distrust and suspicion between a superior and a subordinate can lead to less likelihood of effective communication. Furthermore, the degree of similarity between the sender and receiver in terms of such characteristics as frames of reference, age, sex, intelligence, socio-economic status and common attitude will affect the effectiveness of communication.
iii.Organizational Factors: Organizational barriers to effective communication include hierarchical differentiation, time, pressure, network breakdown and status differences. The bigger the organizational structure, the more layers a message must pass through to get to those at the lower levels; the more the levels a message must pass through, the longer it takes to reach its destination and the less likely it is to be accurate (Bedeian, 1980).
Furthermore, the size of the workforce is likely to affect the accuracy of communications. The larger an organization, the less likelihood that adequate communication will be achieved. Network breakdown is another factor that can bring about ineffective communication in an organization. Finally, status differences may create problems that block upward communication because sometimes, subordinates do not wish to express an option that is different from that of their superordinate.
iv. Technological Factor: The most important factor here is that of information overload. The school administrator may have difficulty making a decision or communication, not because of the absence of information but because of excessive information. Sometimes school administrators are so overloaded with information and data that they cannot absorb or respond adequately to all the messages directed to them. The result is that “they screen out” the majority of messages and consequently do not respond to all.

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