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Education & Learning

What are the biggest barriers to communication?

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In order to work effectively in a team, there need to be understanding on what kinds of communication barriers might be present in a certain setting. Jack Rochel, the president and CEO of Epsilon Electronics Inc. has worked with and communicated with many other people regarding reports and updates on projects. But how do we overcome barriers to communication?

Filtering happens when someone chooses not to mention a particular topic or data in order to manage someone’s reaction to it. For example, a sales manager might not want to disclose to their boss that they did not hit the required sales number today to avoid getting yelled at. Obviously this causes the decision maker not to have the full picture of what is going on. To prevent filtering, it is best to send and receive message via different channels like email in order to not be present when a manager is reading the message.

Jack Rochel even noticed his employees had a hard time conveying news, be in good or bad upward in the chain of command. One way to remedy that is to reward employees who would share that information. There are signs in an organization where employees will filter or not a message. They will keep in mind other employees who did pass along a message that was negative and would have remembered the reaction if their supervisor. The director should make it clear that they are happy to receive any kind of information since it could be more devastating if received later. Also knowing the current emotional state of the receiver helps.

Selective perception happens when the receiver of a message filters in only what they want to see and hear. It is sometimes done unconsciously since we are simply bombarded with way too much information in a given day, it would be too overwhelming to correctly process everything communicated to us. The problem with this is there may be a misunderstanding that takes place between two or more parties.

There is also something called information overload.  According to Schick, Gordon & Haka, when the information we need to process surpass the capacity of time available for processing. There has been a study that found managers could only do three minutes of work before being interrupted by e-mail, a phone call, a text message, a coworker, or another distraction.

Jack Rochel, after being the president and CEO of his company for over a decade, knows how miscommunication or a lack of communication can be detrimental and costly to an organization. The proper steps need to be taken to educate employees of all ranks to these barriers.