Have you ever been in a relationship or organization where communication was poor? You never knew how the other party felt or what changes were being made in the organization.
To you, it felt like chaos reigned supreme.
You felt infuriated. Maybe you felt uninformed. Or you felt that the other person didn’t care for you.
These are all valid feelings when communication is flowing correctly. Communication is the bedrock of any good relationship, business or personal. That’s why every great leader works on their communication.
They want to be able to articulate what they’re feeling, how they’re feeling, what’s happening in the organization or family, and more. Communication is the lifeline you and those you’re in a relationship with need to thrive.
Don’t deprive your team and family of good communication. Let’s take a look at ways you can overcome communication barriers in your leadership and personal relationships.
Common Communication Barriers
There will always be some kind of communication barrier that we must overcome. Many times, you won’t recognize there is even a barrier there!
That’s a problem. We will struggle if we don’t recognize the barriers to communication in our lives.
Here are 5 common communication barriers.
1. An inability to listen to others:
Maybe the most significant barrier to communication is the inability of one party not to listen. This happens when you think you know everything that’s going to be said, you’re formulating an answer in your head as the other person speaks, or you tune people out.
When you think about it like this, you can see why this is a communication barrier. The information one party is trying to transmit to the other is blocked out by a plethora of other things. You’re not listening, so you can’t communicate or be communicated to.
2. An emotional issue or trauma:
We overlook our emotional issues or trauma that we’ve experienced in the past. Especially when it comes to communicating.
We’ve all been hurt. We’ve put up barriers to protect ourselves. These barriers do more than the protecting we think they’re doing. The barriers we put up prevent effective communication.
I’m not saying you’re right or wrong for having these barriers, but these barriers are not your friend when it comes to communication. You’re unable to hear people speak the truth because you’re filtering it through a filter the person communicating doesn’t know about.
3. A lack of familiarity:
Sometimes, we have communication barriers due to a lack of familiarity with the other person we’re communicating with. We don’t understand their needs, desires, or wants. We believe they’re just like us.
This is a major hindrance to communication. When we don’t know the person or people we’re communicating with, we lack the means to connect and communicate well.
4. Gender differences:
As much as we might like to think males and females are the same, they’re not. We think differently, react differently, and go about our tasks differently.
These differences aren’t bad. They’re inherent in us. They’re what makes us unique.
Understanding that the way you communicate with someone of a different gender matters will go a long way in breaking down the barriers of communication.
5. Remote work/Distance:
I’m a massive proponent of remote work. However, remote work or long-distance relationships (in terms of family) can be difficult.
You have to transcend cultural differences. You have to be aware of the different time zones they may be in. You may even struggle because you can’t have an in-person, face-to-face conversation with the person.
These are all communication barriers that you may have to overcome. The good news is that it is possible to overcome these barriers to communication.
Overcoming Communication Barriers In Leadership And The Home
Practice active listening:
When we practice active listening, we begin to understand more of the conversation. We ask questions, summarize the points made, and seek a deeper understanding.
Seek to be an active listener by doing the above items.
Be aware of nonverbal cues:
Communication is more than our words. Communication involves nonverbal cues as well. We enhance what’s being communicated when we pay attention to body language, facial expressions, and gestures.
Our bodies and actions are communicating something. Pay attention to what your body is saying. More importantly, pay attention to what the other person’s body is saying.
Ask for feedback:
Despite our desires, we can put up our own communication barriers. We make it difficult for others to talk, and we don’t fully share with others.
Want to get better? Ask for feedback from those you interact with. Ask them what you can do to become a better communicator.
One of the things I know I have to work on is my sarcasticness. I love to use sarcasm to drive home a point or make others laugh. Yet, sarcasm can be a barrier.
Learn from those you’re communicating with. Be willing to ask them to help you understand the barriers you’re putting up.
Use different communication channels:
This is an important one for anyone in a long-distance relationship. Whether the relationship is business or personal, there are many different communication channels available.
Learn what works for you and others. Someone may enjoy talking on the phone or they’re comfortable with email communication. Learn the preference of the person you’re communicating with and use that to break down the barriers.
You Can Overcome Communication Barriers
There are plenty of right and wrong ways to communicate. The way we choose to communicate can either break down or build up barriers.
Work on breaking down the barriers you have in your communication style.
The more you’re able to work on sharing your feelings, learning different communication channels, and asking for feedback, the stronger your communication skills will be. You will have better relationships in your personal and professional lives.
Get out there. Knock down those communication barriers!