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Barriers to effective communication can retard or distort the message and intention of the message being conveyed which may result in failure of the communication process or an effect that is undesirable. These include filtering, selective perception, information overload, emotions, language, silence, communication apprehension, gender differences and political correctness [1]

This also includes a lack of expressing "knowledge-appropriate" communication, which occurs when a person uses ambiguous or complex legal words, medical jargon, or descriptions of a situation or environment that is not understood by the recipient.

Physical barriers

Physical barriers are often due to the nature of the environment. An example of this is the natural barrier which exists if staff are located in different buildings or on different sites. Likewise, poor or outdated equipment, particularly the failure of management to introduce new technology, may also cause problems. Staff shortages are another factor which frequently causes communication difficulties for an organization. While distractions like background noise, poor lighting or an environment which is too hot or cold can all affect people's morale and concentration, which in turn interfere with effective communication.

System design

System design faults refer to problems with the structures or systems in place in an organization. Examples might include an organizational structure which is unclear and therefore makes it confusing to know whom to communicate with. Other examples could be inefficient or inappropriate information systems, a lack of supervision or training, and a lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities which can lead to staff being uncertain about what is expected of them.

Attitudinal barriers

Attitudinal barriers come about as a result of problems with staff in an organization. These may be brought about, for example, by such factors as poor management, lack of consultation with employees, personality conflicts which can result in people delaying or refusing to communicate, the personal attitudes of individual employees which may be due to lack of motivation or dissatisfaction at work, brought about by insufficient training to enable them to carry out particular tasks, or just resistance to change due to entrenched attitudes and ideas, it may be as a result delay in payment at the end of the month.

Ambiguity of words/phrases

Words sounding the same but having different meaning can convey a different meaning altogether. Hence the communicator must ensure that the receiver receives the same meaning. It is better if such words are avoided by using alternatives whenever possible.

Individual linguistic ability

The use of jargon, difficult or inappropriate words in communication can prevent the recipients from understanding the message. Poorly explained or misunderstood messages can also result in confusion. However, research in communication has shown that confusion can lend legitimacy to research when persuasion fails.[2][3][4]

Physiological barriers

These may result from individuals' personal discomfort, caused—for example—by ill health, poor eyesight or hearing difficulties.

Presentation of information

Presentation of information is important to aid understanding. Simply put, the communicator must consider the audience before making the presentation itself and in cases where it is not possible the presenter can at least try to simplify his/her vocabulary so that the majority can understand.

Language barrier and communication

Typically, little communication occurs unless one or both parties learns a new language, which requires an investment of much time and effort. People travelling abroad often encounter a language barrier.

People who come to a new country at an adult age, when language learning is a cumbersome process, can have particular difficulty "overcoming the language barrier". Similar difficulties occur at multinational meetings, where translation services can be costly, hard to obtain, and prone to error.

In 1995, 24,000 of the freshmen entering the California State University system reported English was their second language; yet only 1,000 of these non-active speakers of English tested proficient in college-level English (Kahmi-Stein&Stein,1999). Numbers such as these make it evident that it is crucial for instruction librarians to acknowledge the challenges that language can present. Clearly use of English is a key complicating factor in international students' use of an American university library. Language difficulties impact not only information-gathering skills but also help-seeking behaviors. Lack of proficiency in English can be a major concern for international students in their library use as it relates to asking for and receiving assistance. Lee (1991), herself a former international student, explains that international students tend to be acquiescent and believe that school is the one place in the English-speaking world where they should be able to compete on an equal basis. International students are receptive and strongly motivated. For international students, concerned with proper sentence structure and precise vocabulary, this alteration of words and positions can be much more baffling than it is to native English speakers. The use of synonyms, a necessity in keyword searching, is a difficult to master, especially for students with limited English vocabulary (F. Jacobson, 1988). In 2012, The Rosetta Foundation declared April 19 the international "No Language Barrier Day". The idea behind the day is to raise international awareness about the fact that it is not languages that represent barriers: languages should not be removed, they are not a barrier - to the contrary, they should be celebrated. It is access to translation services that is the barrier preventing communities from accessing and sharing information across languages. The annual celebration of this day aims to raise awareness about and to grow global community translation efforts.

See also

References

  1. Robbins, S., Judge, T., Millett, B., & Boyle, M. (2011). Organisational Behaviour. 6th ed. Pearson, French's Forest, NSW p315-317.
  2. 10 Best practices to Effectively Communicate with the Project Stakeholders - Retrieved June 9th, 2012
  3. What Should Be Included in a Project Plan - Retrieved December 18th, 2009
  4. J. Scott Armstrong (1980). Bafflegab Pays. Psychology Today: 12.

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