Most people would agree that communication between two individuals should be simple. It’s important to remember that there are differences between talking and communicating. When you communicate, you are successful in getting your point across to the person you’re talking to. When we talk, we tend to erect barriers that hinder our ability to communicate. There are seven of these types of barriers to effective communication.
1. Physical barriers are easy to spot – doors that are closed, walls that are erected, and distance between people all work against the goal of effective communication. While most agree that people need their own personal areas in the workplace, setting up an office to remove physical barriers is the first step towards opening communication. Many professionals who work in industries that thrive on collaborative communication, such as architecture, purposefully design their workspaces around an “open office” plan. This layout eschews cubicles in favor of desks grouped around a central meeting space. While each individual has their own dedicated work space, there are no visible barriers to prevent collaboration with their co-workers. This encourages greater openness and frequently creates closer working bonds.
2. Perceptual barriers, in contrast, are internal. If you go into a situation thinking that the person you are talking to isn’t going to understand or be interested in what you have to say, you may end up subconsciously sabotaging your effort to make your point. You will employ language that is sarcastic, dismissive, or even obtuse, thereby alienating your conversational partner. Think of movie scenarios in which someone yells clipped phrases at a person they believe is deaf. The person yelling ends up looking ridiculous while failing to communicate anything of substance.
3. Emotional barriers can be tough to overcome, but are important to put aside to engage in conversations. We are often taught to fear the words coming out of our own...