Barriers to Communication in the Workplace Part 1

Posted on May 14th, 2017 by G. Riley Mills

In today’s global economy, there are several barriers to communication in the workplace. As communicators, we must work harder to ensure our message is received and acted upon. While we spend most of our day communicating, sending messages is only half the communication equation. The other half involves the recipient’s ability to accurately interpret and understand the information provided.

Here are some barriers to communication in the workplace and some tips on how to overcome them:

Jargon (Over-complicated, unfamiliar and/or technical terms)

Regardless of your brilliance, if the audience you present to falls asleep, your message will not be understood. You need to penetrate your audience to impact them. You must engage them if you hope to persuade them. And the best way to ensure your message lands is to keep it simple, concise and clear.

Attention spans, distractions, or irrelevance to the receiver.

According to Joan Middendorf and Alan Kalish of Indiana University, “Adult learners can keep tuned into a lecture for no more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time….”

As such, make every meeting or presentation a dialogue. Look at your audience. Read their faces. Make direct eye contact and direct your message to specific individuals. Observe their body language.

Second, use pattern interrupts – any action or behavior that breaks a pattern in an effort to maintain the attention of an audience:

  • Change speakers
  • Solicit feedback or opinions
  • Introduce a new visual aid
  • Use a story or anecdote
  • Transition topics
  • Ask a direct or rhetorical question
  • Divide audience into groups
  • Incorporate physical activity

Differences in perception and viewpoint

The first step in The Pinnacle Method’s 3-Step process for influential Communication is to analyze your audience. Before delivering a message, a communicator must understand with great clarity how they want their audience to react to their message. Ask these questions – Who is my audience? What is their level of familiarity with my content/topic? How do they feel about me or my content/topic? How do I want them to feel as a result of my communication? What do I want my audience to do? The answers to these questions inform the speaker’s intention – “an aim that guides action.”

Physical disabilities – hearing or vision limitations or speech difficulties.

A strong intention, activated properly, will inform all aspects of one’s communication—body language, facial expressions, vocal dynamics, etc. As a result of a strong intention, the audience should understand what you are communicating to them through your Intention Cues – any aspect of a person’s vocal or physical communication that conveys meaning to an audience or listener. In other words, if they can’t see you, your voice has to clearly communicate your intention (pitch) so they can understand you. If they can’t hear you, your body language has to clearly communicate your intention (facial expressions, gestures, proximity, etc.) so they can understand you.

If you would like to know how we can help you communicate with Intention to address barriers to communication in the workplace, please contact us.

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