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Individual Barriers to Communication

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Effective communication in the workplace is one of the foundations of efficient teamwork and accurate results. However, there are a number of barriers to communication that employees experience on an individual level, whether it has to do with perceptions of their own skills and abilities or a reaction to the personalities and values of those around them.


There are obvious difficulties when communicating with someone of a different nationality who does not have a good grasp of the common language spoken in the workplace. Overcoming this can be difficult and often affected through the use of drawings or signing. It is the responsibility of employers to hire workers who have a high level of linguistic ability.


Different religions hold different beliefs, and these can often clash in a workplace environment, as two colleagues with opposing views descend into debate and argument. This can negatively affect your ability to communicate with the person you are in conflict with, as you may distance yourself from him in order to avoid confrontation.


Some people are, unfortunately, racist, and this can affect the way they communicate with colleagues who are of a different ethnic origin. However, a more common barrier to communication originates from the different cultures that ethnic colleagues bring. This can separate them from the rest of the team, as co-workers may struggle to forge a working and personal relationship due to a lack of understanding regarding these cultures.


Some employees, no matter where they sit in the hierarchy, will be unwilling to speak to their superiors. This is often through fear of being dismissed or patronized, the unfortunate result of a poor manager who does not create a culture of being approachable. This fear can prevent initiative from being displayed in the form of creative and interesting suggestions on how to improve business procedures.


Some workers may feel inadequate enough to prevent them from voicing opinions and providing feedback. They may also feel that they do not have the ability to communicate their feelings and thoughts in a coherent manner, and this prevents them from conveying them at all.


This barrier relates to an individual's state of mind when she is communicating. If you are in a bad mood, your communication skills are compromised, and you may be unable or unwilling to respond to a colleague or manager in an effective manner.


Ben Wakeling graduated from Coventry University in 2009 with an upper second class honours B.Sc. degree in construction management. Wakeling is also a freelance writer, and works for a number of businesses, such as Demand Studios, Suite 101 and Academic Knowledge.

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