Communication Barriers: Three common complaints
In your workplace, do you always wear a Peckham Rye? Do you use a Pistol and Shooter? Have you got a pot of glue what I’m talking about? Although not always quite so extreme, communication barriers are commonplace in any working environment. However, it is incredibly important that every member of your team can communicate efficiently, working towards common goals in an organized, rational way. Communication is the fundamental skill of every team member, and eliminating communication barriers is a key responsibility of any team leader. Let’s look at three of the most common communication barriers and how to overcome them.
Communication barriers that halt productivity
The first – and most common – obstacle to good communication is a lack of team focus. Usually, the individual members of your team are perfectly capable of communicating their ideas succinctly and in an organised fashion. However, communicating is not just talking in a way that other people can understand – good communication is talking towards a common goal. The best team leaders impose structure and order on communication, identifying objectives that every team member can focus their attention on. In my experience, the most obvious steps are the most effective – why not explicitly state your goals for the meeting or conversation before you begin?
You could even write your objectives down, but beware of another common communication barrier – the dependence on visual aids. The business world is increasingly preoccupied with the role of technology to support communication, but the truth is that slideshows and diagrams often turn into communication barriers, stealing attention from the speaker. If all of the information that you or your team members need to convey can be written down in a slideshow, why let words get in the way? Written communication can often be just as effective as verbal. However, if your goals call for a back-and-forth conversation, never let your visual aids detract from the impact of what you are saying.
Finally, consider the language barriers at work within your business. Every team leader and team member is aware of the communication barriers when it comes to nationality, but what about culture? Think about those times when somebody from within your organisation communicates with an external client or customer. In that situation, misunderstandings are far more common than when communication occurs in-house, as team members use terms and phrases that are commonplace in your business. Equally, issues can arise when team members in different positions communicate. Avoid technical terms and jargon at all costs, focusing instead on plain English that is clear, precise and to the point.
Communication barriers should be identified and expressed
Even with the best of intentions, communication barriers occur in every organisation. By understanding the most common obstacles to clear communication, you can take the necessary steps to make sure that every member of your team is heard and understood. However, it is only by promoting the no-nonsense approach to communication that every person in your organisation will have the confidence to convey the most important message of all – ‘I don’t understand’.
You can check out more about Building a team and how we help foster an environment of collaborative communication. Take a peek at this blog article about Team Communication Remember, if you work to make your team aware of communication barriers, you can be sure that they will be identified before they spiral out of control. You can hear me talking more about my views on Team Communication on our Youtube channel