Posted by: worldofintrospect | November 10, 2008

Barriers in the Workplace…

We have all experienced the feelings of frustration when we can not communicate fully or to our full potential in the workplace. Most people think that communication is natural because they have done it all of their lives. For the most part, that is true, however, that is not the full case all of the time. There are barriers that exist that can hinder communication. There are six different types of barriers that will be covered in this article. They are: physical, perceptual, emotional, cultural, language, and gender barriers.

Physical Barriers

  • Physical barriers are areas in the workplace that separate or enclose the workers.
  • Areas where strangers are not allowed, closed doors, barriers, etc for people of different status, or large areas where one unit is totally separated from another unit.
  • Proximity is the most important aspect to communication. As long as one has their personal space, closeness allows people to get familar with one another.
  • It is imtimidating to go across a distance to communicate with another person which is why proximity is also important once again.

Perceptual Barriers

  • Everyone has different viewpoints, and perceptions. Therefore, that is why it is necessary to communicate.
  • If everyone had the same perception, there would be no need to communicate.
  • For example, someone from poverty stricken inner city would have a different viewpoint/perception from someone from the suburbs.
  • It is important for people to compromise and try to put themselves in another person’s “shoes” in order for communication to be complete.

Emotional Barriers

  • Emotional Barriers are said to be the most important reason for communication to be misunderstood, and gone awry.
  • The root of emotional barriers that block open/free communication is fear, mistrust, and suspicion.
  • Many people feel vulnerable, and people are taught to be cautious of what they say to others.
  • People who have a deep fear of what others might think of us cause us to be careful of what we say to others and in return that may stunt our ability to form meaningful relationships with other people.
  • Many people especially people who are insecure, fear what others think about them which makes them emotional refrain from communication.
  • Instead of being fearful one should slowly try to open up more, and try to think more positively. “What is the worst that can happen? That person might not like me…who cares?”

Cultural Barriers

  • In order to be accepted into a group, you must abide or conform to the behaviors that the group approves of.
  • If you do not abide by the behavior patterns that the group approves of then it is harder for you to be accepted into the group.
  • This is definitely understandable as there are so many examples of miscommunication between two different culture groups.
  • There are many instances where one group thinks that another group is being disrespectful however, it is not that. The other group does not know that their actions are considered inappropriate because it is perfectly natural to them.
  • In order to move past cultural barriers, one most learn the culture, or behavioral patterns of the other group in order to be accepted.

Language Barriers

  • Everyone speaks in a different language, slang, jargon, etc. Just because two people are from the same country does not mean that they talk the same way
  • Each area has their own slang, or way of speaking.
  • Learning to speak in that person’s native tone/language is very important, and respectful to the other people especially because that means that you are on the same page with the other person.
  • Miscommunication can especially be dangerous between two sides because it could be misinterpreted and turn into a conflict.
  • Fights/wars are generally a result of miscommunication.

Gender Barriers

  • The speech pattern of a man and woman are different. 
  • It is estmated that women talk with about 22,000 to 25,000 words a day whereas men talk betwen 7,000 to 10,000 words a day.
  • It is natural because girls tend to talk more than boys.
  • The wirings of a man and woman’s brain differ in the speech department.
  • A man talks in a more logical, rational way whereas women talk more freely mixing logic and emotion.
  • This is relevant because men and women mistinterpret what each other mean.
  • Therefore, it is important for men and women to try to understand each other.

I think everyone has experienced at least four out of the six barriers, and they will experience more as they age and live life. All of these barriers are natural yet  many people do not think twice about these barriers. If one thought more deeply about these barriers before they acted, or spoke, many communication barriers could be avoided.




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