Barriers to Effective Communication

Any potential barriers to effective communication inside your business should be dealt with as soon as possible before the little niggles caused by poor communication become full blown problems.

Business Coaching Insight:

Pay attention to communication problems because they can escalate if you don't deal with them

Signs that communication needs improving in your business

There are a few key signs that may indicate you've got a communication problem in your business:

  • Low morale, negative attitudes and motivation issues
  • Mistakes and misunderstandings
  • Poor teamwork - one side of the business is doesn't know what the other is doing
  • Conflicting goals - different areas of the business seem to be working at odds with each other
  • Your staff don't do what you wanted them to do the way you asked or they're confused about what you want

So what do you do about it if you recognize some of these symptoms?

You will need to take a good hard look at what's going on in your business. Sometimes it might just mean taking an easy practical step like having more meetings. 

Sometimes there could be deeper issues that need confronting.

6 barriers to effective communication

1. Fear

Fear can get in the way of good communication inside businesses in several ways. Two of the most common are:

  • The business owner avoiding difficult or potentially confrontational conversations
  • Employees having a fear of retribution

Both of these barriers to effective communication can create invisible walls inside your business where everyone goes around smiling and pretending everything's okay but really there are important issues festering underneath that need to be aired.

When things go left unsaid, it drains the team of energy.

2. Lack of meetings

Formalizing communication in your business via effective staff meetings can prevent a lot of problems occurring in your business

For communication to work well within a business, forums are needed where staff can air concerns, ideas and ask questions. However, not all meetings are effective. How you handle them determines whether they'll really work as a communication tool.

Your ability to be open and transparent in these meetings will determine whether your staff feel they are a genuine forum or not. If you use them just as a one-way process to dispense information, it will still be a barrier to effective communication.

3. Closed doors

Of course, some discussions have to take place in private but it's important to make yourself accessible to your staff and connect with them on a regular basis.

The more face to face time your employees have with you the better so when you’re not so busy make a point of leaving your desk and having informal chats with your team.

4. Sweeping mistakes under the carpet

If you react negatively to mistakes made by staff, you are teaching your employees to avoiding taking risks and to hide mistakes from you. This creates a barrier to effective communication in your business because your team may avoid telling you about problems and mistakes.

A more effective approach is to use mistakes as learning opportunities and to create a 'learning culture'.

Instead of pointing fingers and blaming, encourage the team to discuss mistakes and problems openly, learn from them and find ways to make sure they don't reoccur.

5. Stress

Since stress affects memory, focus and concentration it inevitably has a negative impact on communication.

When people feel overwhelmed all of their energy goes into getting through the day rather than thinking about what they need to tell others.

Business owners, in particular, need to remember that whilst they may have a relatively high level of tolerance for stress not everybody is the same. 

6. Blaming and judgements

When we're feeling closed, judgmental or negative towards another person it prevents us from being able to communicate effectively with that person because you will unconsciously provoke that person to be resistant towards you.

The same can be said of workplaces. Whenever there is a lot of resistance in a team or organization - typical symptoms include blaming and gossip, you can assume the level of communication will be poor.

Business Coaching Insights:

  • What kind of culture are you creating in your business?
  • How do your employees rate the communication in your business?
  • What barriers to effective communication exist in your business?

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