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Internal Noise in Communication
Written, verbal and non-verbal are types of communication styles. In each type of communication, a message travels from the sender to the receiver. In the process of sending a message, communicators have to be mindful of internal and external noise that can block or distort the message being sent. Internal communication can be defined as the thoughts or feelings your audience has, developed from past experiences or current situations, that affect how your message is received.
Internal noise is commonly referred to as a barrier in communication, and since it's not necessarily visible, it's hard for a sender to control this barrier. It's important for people sending messages to understand that this type of barrier exists and may affect how a receiver responds to a given message.
Reputation and Credibility
If you question the reputation or credibility of the person sending a message to you, it may affect how your receive and process the message. If in the past the person or organization communicating with you had unscrupulous business practices, such as falsifying information, you may be hesitant to believe what they're saying, whether it's true or not.
Racism, sexism and other prejudices can distort or prevent a message from being sent. Whether it's the sender or the receiver who has a prejudice, it can negatively impact the message and cause complications in the communication process. A person who has a prejudice against women, for example, may not listen as intently as a woman executive gives a speech or presents the team status report during a meeting.
Individuals who don't have accurate, proven information or details on a given topic may make assumptions. Whether it's about sales for the quarter or whether an employee is getting let go, assumptions can cause a break down in the communication cycle.
Stereotypes are commonly believed thoughts about specific groups or individuals. Stereotypes exist in all realms of the world, from ideas about genders, races, executives, experienced vs. new business owners and even about specific industries. Stereotypes have the potential to cause internal noise in the communication process.
Overcoming Internal Noise
As the sender of a message, you can help cut down on noise by using simple language, selecting a neutral environment to communicate and by using positive nonverbal communication while giving your message, such as making eye contact and turning your body towards the person you're communicating with. If you're listening to a message, you can cut down on the noise by listening actively to absorb the information being sent to you.
Miranda Brookins is a marketing professional who has over seven years of experience in copywriting, direct-response and Web marketing, publications management and business communications. She has a bachelor's degree in business and marketing from Towson University and is working on a master's degree in publications design at University of Baltimore.