Communication Barriers

What is Communication?

Communication is an integral instinct of all living things. At its simplest, communication is any exchange of information between two entities. It can be observed to take place at the cellular level between microorganisms, and on a larger scale between members of a herd evading a predator. As modern humans living in a busy world, we rely on good communication every day to make our way through life. Every interaction we have with another person, from a raised eyebrow in a busy checkout lane, to an obscene gesture at another motorist in traffic, to the simple wave to your family as you pull out of the driveway in the morning, is a form of communication. Today, communication has gone from individual levels of conversing to mass communication. The most important aspects of communication are best understood when there is a lack of it. In the following pages, we will discuss different types of communication, common barriers in our daily communication, as well as strategies for overcoming them.

Good communication is not just a process of transferring information from one entity to another. It's an art of first listening or reading the information, comprehending it, processing it and then transferring it. There is a huge amount of effort that goes into communication. Gestures, tone of voice, body language and spoken language are some of the important aspects of communication. If the other person is unable to comprehend any of these factors, then the process fails.

Four Types of Communication

Communication comes in four basic types. Below, we will look at the different types in depth.

Communication Barriers

There are many reasons why interpersonal communications may fail. In many communications, the message may not be received exactly the way the sender intended and hence it is important that the communicator seeks feedback to check that their message is clearly understood. The skills of Active Listening, Clarification and Reflection, which we will discuss shortly, may help but the skilled communicator also needs to be aware of the barriers to effective communication. There exist many barriers to communication and these may occur at any stage in the communication process. Barriers may lead to your message becoming distorted and you therefore risk wasting both time and/or money by causing confusion and misunderstanding. Effective communication involves overcoming these barriers and conveying a clear and concise message.

Some common barriers to effective communication include:
A skilled communicator must be aware of these barriers and try to reduce their impact by continually checking understanding and by offering appropriate feedback.

Barriers to Communication by Category

Overcoming Barriers

Most of the above mentioned barriers can be overcome by the skilled communicator. Obviously, bridging gaps in geography and communicating through disabilities are a topic for a different discussion. Below, we will look at some tools that can be used to bridge barriers in everyday communications.


As living beings, we need to express and understand the expressions of others. Like it or not, human society thrives on communication. Civilizations have risen and fallen based upon how good they were at maintaining sound relations with the rest of the world. Communication is, indeed, the very lubricant that makes the machinery of human relations function smoothly. Therefore, the significance of communication cannot and should not be underestimated. Sometimes, difficult situations in life can be resolved by just sitting down and talking it out. Similarly, most personal, professional and social disasters can be averted by maintaining clear, appropriate and unambiguous communication. All we need is some effort on our part to identify and avoid barriers to effective communication to make our lives and the lives of those around us better.
Click the Communication Barriers link on the right to take the test.