10 Barriers That Prevent Great Business Communication

One of the most common complaints within any business is poor communication. Indeed communication is rarely perfect within any organization. Common arguments about unclear goals and strategies, poor information on performance can create real issues, but what are the barriers that prevent effective business communication? Here are 10 common business communication issues:

1. One of the first barriers that acts as a barrier to communication is actually a means of communication itself; namely emails. Relying simply on email as a prime communication method can lead to frustration – especially if they are unclear or provide irrelevant information to those that are reading them (this is especially true in large organizations). Communications must be a mix of methods that are applied appropriately.

2. Lack of using appropriate face to face communication can be a barrier to communication simply because holding meetings where hundreds of people are present will not elicit a lot of feedback; staff need to feel comfortable in the environment where communication is happening.

3. The infrastructure of the organization may not be geared up towards ensuring that communication is maximized. If the infrastructure does not recognize the importance of communication, then it will not be effective.

4. Physical barriers often exist to good communication. These physical barriers are often related to staff being distant from each other, management being in office suites that are not close to the main work areas and so on. These act as a ways of distancing staff and management, both physically and psychologically.

5. There are lots of ways in which businesses talk to clients/customers. The customer may be regarded as king and much effort is made in establishing good methods of communication with the client/customer, but little is done to ensure that internally communication is regarded as important.

6. If management regard communication as being a ‘one way street’ whereby the management communicate with staff, but there is little interest in hearing what staff have to say, then there is little that can be done to improve communication. This kind of mindset is not just a barrier, but rather an insurmountable blockade.

7. Culture and morale. If there is a culture in an organization that is not about respecting management and morale is very low, then no matter how effectively management try to communicate with staff, there will be some kind of resistance. This will prevent good communication.

8. Management fail to check that their message has not just been heard, but that it has been understood and the message that they are conveying will be endorsed by staff and they will act upon it. If it is simply assumed that they will understand and that they will endorse the message, then there is a real danger that staff have not understood the message, have potentially misunderstood it and that they will not endorse it, but in fact may oppose it.

9. Lack of attention. Sometimes management try to communicate with staff without first trying to ensure that the staff are paying attention or that they are not being distracted. So communication needs to be planned, so that it happens at the right time and in a way that is appropriate and conducive to staff being fully attentive.

10. Lack of management skills. Management are often assumed to be competent and fully capable in all aspects of management, but in reality they may be unable to communicate effectively. This is a terrible barrier to communication, often because management are unwilling to admit that they cannot communicate effectively; they simply assume that they can.

These barriers can be difficult to face up to, but once there is an awareness of them, then care can be taken to ensure that they do not cause any problems with regard to communication, but the process of ensuring that communication is barrier free, is not incredibly easy and can take some time.

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