How To Overcome Communication Barriers

Have you ever felt that no matter how hard you try, people don’t understand you? We give you the keys to achieve effective communication.

Communication barriers can appear at any time. Whether at work or at home, with a friend or a stranger. It is easy to generate misunderstandings, especially if we take into account that each person can interpret what is said in a conversation in many ways. Therefore, it is important to learn to identify the obstacles that prevent proper communication.

In fact, if lately we have the impression that nobody understands us, perhaps we should reflect on how we express ourselves and what may be making it difficult for them to understand us. Let’s see next.

Types of communication barriers

Communication barriers prevent information and conversation from flowing correctly between ourselves and another person. There are different types and among them the following stand out.

Man talking to a woman about the communication barriers

1. Interferences

They are related to the environment and technical defects. They are, for example, noise, interruptions in telephone calls, being outdoors, weather phenomena (storms), etc.

2. Misunderstandings

When something is said but the other understands something differently, a misunderstanding occurs. This may be because we have not explained ourselves well or that the interlocutor has a problem (he has not listened carefully, he has not asked about what he did not understand at the time, etc.).

For this reason, it is very important that when we speak with another person we make sure that what we understand is what the other person wants to tell us. Hence, it is so advisable to ask the other from time to time to make sure.

3. Background or biases

Sometimes communication barriers can arise from prejudice. If in the past we have had trouble expressing our point of view, for example to a boss or our partner, the next time we may think that the same thing will happen and we will act accordingly.

4. Lack of chemistry

We cannot connect with everyone. Sometimes, communication barriers arise due to differences in age, ideology, social status, or simply because we don’t like a person.

However, this is a point to ponder. Differences should not be a problem, if we have respect as a fundamental value.

5. Language

Some very specific terms may be used. Expressions that “common” people do not understand as technicalities or words that are in another language.

Additionally, semantics or the meaning of words can be misused.

For example, this occurs when a doctor explains a diagnosis and uses specialized terminology that is incomprehensible to the patient.

6. Mental rigidity

Prejudices, generalizations and stereotypes can create communication barriers  because they predispose to not wanting to hear or understand expressions of the other.

This usually happens to people with fixed ideas, that is, they are very rigid at the mental level and do not go beyond their point of view.

Tips to overcome communication barriers

The first step is to identify what is causing it. What is the problem: communicating or receiving information? Is it because of the traffic noise, a taboo or a cultural difference? This can serve as a reference to modify the situation.

To solve this, it is advisable to follow some tips.

1. Follow up

Taking things for granted is a very common mistake. Many times, the interlocutor waits for a pause in our speech to consult something that was not entirely clear to him. This must be taken into account when we speak, since it is not a monologue, but an exchange of information between two or more people.

2. Control the quality of the information

Sometimes, we think that we explain something well but, in reality, we do not. This is because one has previous data that you are not sharing (by default, by forgetting or considering that it is not necessary).

To avoid this, the best that can be done is to try to explain “more” than “less”.

3. Use feedback

It is one of the main techniques to overcome communication barriers. If the other feels involved and can give their opinion, they will have a different predisposition to the message.

Feedback is beneficial for the speaker as well, since it can give guidelines on how to continue or whether to reinforce a concept.

4. Develop empathy

Empathy is about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. This serves to visualize if the message is being well understood, what others want to hear or expect to receive from us, what are their opinions, needs and concerns.

At the same time, empathy helps the interlocutor to “open up” and tell their points of view, give their opinions or let us know what seems good and what is bad for them. AND Listening is part of effective communication.

Woman talking to another about sensitive topics

5. Simplify and adapt

There is no use adding difficult words, phrases, or concepts to your speech if others don’t understand it. If our language is too “high” for the interlocutor, we better change it. You have to learn to adapt the language.

It is not about lowering or lowering the level, but about improving the experience and thus overcoming communication barriers. When there are terms that are complicated, they can be repeated a couple of times or use synonyms.  Thus, they will be fixed in the minds of others.

We must control our emotions

Sometimes emotions can play a trick. If there is screaming, crying or nervousness, it is better to postpone the conversation for another time, when things calm down.

Many times, we make the mistake of continuing to argue even when our emotions are “on the surface.” The downside of this is that we can hurt the other person or even receive a serious offense from them. It is better to wait for everything to settle down to resume communication.

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