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12.3 Communication Barriers

Learning Objectives

Understand various methods that the interaction process have the right to be sidetracked. Understand the problem of poor listening and also exactly how to promote active listening.

Barriers to Effective Communication

Communicating deserve to be even more of a difficulty than you think, as soon as you realize the many type of points that can stand also in the means of effective interaction. These encompass filtering, selective perception, information overpack, emotional disconnects, absence of resource familiarity or credibility, workplace gossip, semantics, gender distinctions, differences in meaning between Sender and also Receiver, and also biased language. Let’s research each of these obstacles.

You are watching: Filtering is a barrier to effective communication that takes place when ________.


FilteringThe distortion or withholding of indevelopment to control a person’s reactions. is the distortion or withholding of indevelopment to manage a person’s reactions. Some examples of filtering include a manager that keeps her division’s poor sales figures from her boss, the vice president, fearing that the bad news will make him angry. The old saying, “Don’t shoot the messenger!” illustrates the tendency of Receivers (in this case, the vice president) to vent their negative response to unwanted Messeras on the Sender. A gatekeeper (the vice president’s assistant, perhaps) that doesn’t pass alengthy a finish Post is likewise filtering. The vice president might delete the e-mail announcing the quarter’s sales figures prior to analysis it, blocking the Blog post before it arrives.

As you have the right to see, filtering prevents members of an organization from gaining a finish image of the means things are. To maximize your possibilities of sending and also receiving reliable communications, it’s advantageous to deliver a Article in multiple ways and also to seek indevelopment from multiple resources. In this method, the impact of any type of one person’s filtering the Article will certainly be diminimelted.

Because people tend to filter negative news even more in the time of upward interaction, it is likewise helpful to remember that those below you in an company might be wary of sharing poor news. One means to defusage the tendency to filter is to reward employees that clearly convey information upward, regardmuch less of whether the news is great and negative.

Here are some of the criteria that people might usage when deciding whether to filter a Article or pass it on:

Past experience: Was the Sender rewarded for passing along news of this sort in the previous, or was she criticized? Knowledge, perception of the speaker: Has the Receiver’s direct superior made it clear that “no news is good news?” Emotional state, involvement through the topic, level of attention: Does the Sender’s fear of faitempt or criticism prevent him from conveying the Message? Is the topic within his realm of expertise, raising his confidence in his ability to decode it, or is he out of his comfort zone as soon as it comes to evaluating the Message’s significance? Are individual pertains to impacting his capability to judge the Message’s value?

Once aobtain, filtering deserve to result in miscommunications in company. Each listener equates the Message into his or her own words, developing his or her very own variation of what was shelp.Alessandra, T. (1993). Communicating at work. New York: Fireside.

Selective Perception

Selective perceptionThe personal filtering of what we check out and hear to suit our own requirements. refers to filtering what we watch and hear to suit our own demands. This procedure is frequently unaware. Small things have the right to command our attention once we’re visiting a brand-new place—a new city or a new company. Gradually, however, we start to make presumptions around the way points are on the basis of our past endure. Often, a lot of this procedure is unaware. “We simply are bombarded via too much stimuli eexceptionally day to pay equal attention to everything so we pick and choose according to our own requirements.”Pope, R. R. Selective perception. Illinois State University. Retrieved December 1, 2008, from Selective perception is a time-saver, a vital tool in a facility culture. But it can also cause mistakes.

Think earlier to the previously instance conversation in between Bill, who was asked to order more toner cartridges, and also his boss. Due to the fact that Bill found his boss’s to-do list to be unsensibly demanding, he assumed the request might wait. (How else could he do whatever else on the list?) The boss, assuming that Bill had actually heard the urgency in her research, assumed that Bill would location the order before returning to the other tasks on her list.

Both members of this company were making use of selective perception to evaluate the interaction. Bill’s perception was that the job of ordering might wait. The boss’s perception was that her time structure was clear, though unstated. When two selective perceptions collide, a misexpertise occurs.

Figure 12.7


A field research discovered that managers deserve to suppose, on average, to carry out just three minutes of uninterrupted occupational on any one task prior to being interrupted by an incoming e-mail, instant message, phone call, coworker, or various other distractivity.

Indevelopment Overload

Information overloadThis occurs when the information handling demands on an individual’s time to perdevelop interactions and also inner calculations exceed the supply or capacity of time available for such processing. can be identified as “arising when the indevelopment processing demands on an individual’s time to percreate interactions and also internal calculations exceed the supply or capacity of time easily accessible for such processing.”Schick, A. G., Gordon, L. A., & Haka, S. (1990). Information overload: A temporal strategy. Accounting, Organizations, and Society, 15, 199–220. Messeras reach us in numerous means eextremely day. Some are societal—advertisements that we may hear or watch in the course of our day. Others are professional—e-mails, and also memos, voice mails, and conversations from our colleagues. Others are personal—messperiods and conversations from our loved ones and also friends.

Add these together and also it’s easy to view exactly how we may be receiving even more information than we deserve to take in. This state of imbalance is well-known as indevelopment overfill. Experts note that information overpack is “A symptom of the high-technology age, which is as well much information for one humale being to absorb in an broadening world of civilization and also technology. It originates from all resources including TV, newspapers, and magazines and also wanted and also unwanted continual mail, e-mail and faxes. It has actually been exacerbated enormously bereason of the formidable number of outcomes derived from Internet search engines.”Retrieved July 1, 2008, from PC Magazine encyclopedia Web site,,2542,t=information+overload&i=44950,00.asp, and also reinforced by indevelopment in Dawley, D. D., & Anthony, W. P. (2003). User perceptions of e-mail at job-related. Journal of Company and also Technical Communication, 17, 170–200. Other research shows that working in such fragmentized fashion has actually a far-reaching negative effect on effectiveness, creativity, and mental acuity.Based on Overholt, A. (2001, February). Intel’s obtained (also much) mail. Quick Company. Retrieved July 2, 2008, from and

Going back to our instance of Bill. Let’s say he’s in his cubicle on the phone with a supplier. While he’s talking, he hears the chime of e-mail alerting him to an important message from his boss. He’s scanning with it quickly, while still on the phone, when a coworker pokes his head roughly the cubicle corner to remind Bill that he’s late for a staff meeting. The supplier on the other end of the phone line has actually simply provided Bill an option among the assets and distribution dates he requested. Bill realizes he missed hearing the first 2 options, however he doesn’t have actually time to ask the supplier to repeat them all or to attempt reconnecting to location the order at a later time. He chooses the third option—at least he heard that one, he factors, and it appeared fair. How great was Bill’s decision amid all the information he was processing at the exact same time?

Emotional disconnects

Emotional disconnects happen once the Sender or the Receiver is upcollection, whether around the subject at hand also or about some unconnected incident that may have happened earlier. An efficient interaction needs a Sender and also a Receiver who are open up to speaking and also listening to one one more, despite possible distinctions in opinion or personality. One or both parties may have to put their emotions aside to attain the goal of connecting clearly. A Receiver who is emotionally upcollection often tends to neglect or distort what the Sender is saying. A Sender that is emotionally upset may be unable to current principles or feelings successfully.

Lack of Source Credibility

Lack of source familiarity or credibility deserve to derail communications, particularly once humor is affiliated. Have you ever told a joke that fell flat? You and also the Receiver lacked the common context that might have actually made it funny. (Or yes, it might have actually simply been a lousy joke.) Sarcasm and irony are subtle, and also possibly hurtful, commodities in business. It’s finest to keep these kinds of interactions out of the worklocation as their benefits are limited, and their potential risks are great. Lack of familiarity through the Sender can bring about misinterpreting humor, especially in less-rich indevelopment channels prefer e-mail. For instance, an e-mail from Jill that ends via, “Men, favor hens, have to boil in vats of oil,” could be taken as antimale if the Receiver didn’t recognize that Jill has actually a penchant for rhyme and also likes to entertain coworkers by making up amutilizing sayings.

Similarly, if the Sender lacks credibility or is unreputable, the Article will certainly not gain through. Receivers may be suspicious of the Sender’s motivations (“Why am I being told this?”). Likewise, if the Sender has actually communicated erroneous indevelopment in the previous, or has actually developed false emergencies, his present Article may be filtered.

Worklocation gossip, likewise known as the grapevineThe informal gossip netjob-related within a provided organization., is a lifeline for many type of employees seeking information about their company.Kurland, N. B., & Pelled, L. H. (2000). Passing the word: Toward a version of gossip and power in the workarea. Academy of Management Review, 25, 428–438. Researchers agree that the grapevine is an inescapable component of organizational life. Research finds that 70% of all organizational communication occurs at the grapevine level.Crampton, S. M. (1998). The informal interaction network: determinants affecting grapevine activity. Public Personnel Management. Retrieved July 2, 2008, from

Employees trust their peers as a resource of Messperiods, however the grapevine’s informal framework have the right to be a barrier to efficient interaction from the managerial point of check out. Its grassroots framework provides it better credibility in the minds of employees than indevelopment ceded via main networks, also when that indevelopment is false.

Some downsides of the office grapevine are that gossip offers politically minded insiders a powerful tool for disseminating communication (and also self-fostering miscommunications) within an organization. In addition, the grapevine lacks a certain Sender, which can develop a feeling of distrust among employees—who is at the root of the gossip network? When the news is volatile, suspicions may arise as to the person or persons behind the Article. Managers that understand also the grapevine’s power deserve to use it to sfinish and obtain Messeras of their very own. They additionally decrease the grapevine’s power by sending official Messages conveniently and accurately, have to substantial news arise.


SemanticsThe meanings of words and the examine of meaning in communication. is the research of definition in interaction. Words have the right to intend various points to various civilization, or they can not suppose anything to one more perboy. For example, companies frequently have their own acronyms and buzzwords (referred to as company jargon) that are clear to them however impenetrable to outsiders. For example, at IBM, GBS is concentrating on BPTS, using field of expertise obtained from the PwC purchase (which had to be marketed to protect against conflicts of interest in light of SOX) to fend various other BPO providers and also inroadways by the Bangalore tiger. Does this make sense to you? If not, here’s the translation: IBM’s Global Business Services (GBS) department is concentrating on giving providers Company Process Transformation Services (BPTS), utilizing the specialization it acquired from purchasing the management consulting and technology solutions arm of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which had to offer the department bereason of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX, enacted in response to the major accountancy scandals like the Enron). The included monitoring field of expertise puts it above business procedure outsourcing (BPO) sellers that emphasis even more on automating processes quite than transforming and also enhancing them. Chief among these BPO rivals is Wipro, often called the “Bangalore tiger” because of its geographical origin and also aggressive expansion.

Given the amount of Messages we sfinish and also get eincredibly day, it makes sense that human beings attempt to find shortcuts—a method to connect points in code. In organization, this code is well-known as jargonA certain set of acronyms or words unique to a particular team or profession.. Jargon is the language of specialized terms provided by a group or profession. It is common shorthand among specialists and also if provided sensibly deserve to be a quick and efficient way of connecting. Most jargon consists of unacquainted terms, abstract words, missing words, acronyms, and abbreviations, with an occasional euphemism thrvery own in for excellent measure. Eincredibly profession, profession, and also company has actually its very own specialized terms.Wideal, N. Keep it jargon-free. Retrieved July 2, 2008, from At initially glance, jargon seems like a good thing—a much faster method to send an effective interaction, the way message message abbreviations deserve to send prevalent messperiods in a much shorter, yet understandable method. But that’s not always just how points happen. Jargon deserve to be an obstacle to efficient interaction, bring about listeners to tune out or cultivating ill-feeling in between partners in a conversation. When jargon rules the day, the Blog post have the right to acquire obscured.

A vital question to ask before using jargon is, “Who is the Receiver of my Message?” If you are a specialist speaking to another specialist in your location, jargon may be the best method to sfinish a message while forging a skilled bond—similar to the way ideal friends have the right to interact in code. For instance, an information technology (IT) devices analyst communicating with one more IT employee may use jargon as a means of sharing information in a way that reinforces the pair’s shared understanding. But that same conversation have to be hosted in traditional English, cost-free of jargon, as soon as communicating through staff members outside the IT team.

Online Follow-Up

Here is a Net site of 80 buzz words in business:

and a discussion of why slang is a problem:

Gender Differences

Gender distinctions in communication have been documented by a number of professionals, consisting of grammars professor Deborah Tannen in her best-selling book You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation.Tannen, D. (1991). You simply don’t understand: Woguys and men in conversation. New York: Ballantine. Men and also woguys occupational together eexceptionally day. But their different styles of interaction can periodically occupational versus them. Usually speaking, womales prefer to ask questions before beginning a job, while guys tend to “jump ideal in.” A male manager who’s unaware of how many kind of womales interact their readiness to job-related might misperceive a ready employee as not all set.

Another difference that has actually been noticed is that men frequently stop in sporting activities metaphors, while many type of womales usage their residence as a beginning area for analogies. Woguys who believe men are “just talking around the game” might be lacking out on a opportunity to participate in a division’s strategy and opportunities for collaboration and also “rallying the troops” for success.Krotz, J. L. (n.d.). 6 tips for bridging the communication gap. Retrieved July 2, 2008, from Microsoft Small Company Center Net site,

“It is essential to promote the finest feasible communication between males and womales in the worklocation,” notes sex policy adviser Dee Norton, that offered the above example. “As we move in between the male and also female societies, we occasionally have to adjust just how we behave (speak the language of the other gender) to obtain the best outcomes from the situation. Clat an early stage, effective establishments of the future are going to have actually leaders and team members who understand also, respect and apply the rules of gender society as necessary.”Norton, D. Gender and also communication—finding widespread ground. Retrieved July 2, 2008, from

Being aware of these gender differences have the right to be the initially action in discovering to occupational via them, as opposed to roughly them. For example, save in mind that males tend to focus more on competition, data, and also orders in their interactions, while women tend to emphasis more on cooperation, intuition, and requests. Both layouts can be efficient in the ideal instances, but knowledge the differences is an initial step in avoiding misunderstandings based upon them.

Differences in meaning frequently exist in between the Sender and also Receiver. “Typical what you say, and also say what you mean.” It’s a straightforward point to say. But in business, what do those words mean? Different words suppose various things to different human being. Age, education, and cultural background are all determinants that influence just how a perchild interprets words. The less we think about our audience, the higher our chances of misinteraction will certainly be. When communication occurs in the cross-cultural context, additional caution is required offered that various words will certainly be understood differently throughout cultures and also different societies have different norms concerning nonverbal communication. Eliminating jargon is one means of ensuring that our words will convey real-people principles to others. Speaking to our audience, as opposed to about ourselves, is one more. Nonverbal Messperiods deserve to additionally have actually various definitions.

Figure 12.8


1. “V” for victory. Use this gesture via caution! While in The United States and Canada it indications victory or tranquility, in England and Australia it implies somepoint closer to “take this!”

Figure 12.9


2. The “OK” gesture. While in The United States and Canada it indicates things are going well, in France it suggests a person is thneed to be worthmuch less, in Japan it describes money, and in Brazil, Russia, and Germany it means something really not proper for the worklocation.

Figure 12.10


3. The “thumbs up” indicates one in Germany type of, 5 in Japan, but a good job in North America. This deserve to cause confusion.
4. “Hook ‘em horns.” This University of Texas rallying contact looks like the horns of a bull. However, in Italy it indicates you are being tricked, while in Brazil and Venezuela it indicates you are driving away evil.
5. Waving your hand. In much of Europe waving your hand suggests a disagreement. However before, in North America it is regularly supplied as a method to signal greetings or to get someone’s attention.

Adapted from information in Axtell, R. E. (1998). Gestures: The do’s and also taboos of body language roughly the world. New York: John Wiley.

Managers that sheight about “irreversible purposes and profits” to a staff that has actually obtained scant raises might discover their core Message (“You’re doing an excellent job—and also that benefits the folks in charge!”) has actually infuriated the group they hoped to inspire. Instead, managers who acknowledge the “contributions” of their staff and confirm that this work-related is contributing to company purposes in means “that will certainly benefit the resource of our success—our employees and also executives,” will uncover their core Message (“You’re doing a good job—we really worth your work”) is obtained as opposed to being mistaken.

Biased language deserve to offfinish or stereotype others on the basis of their individual or team affiliation. The number listed below offers a list of words that have the potential to be offensive in the left-hand column. The right-hand also column provides more neutral words that you have the right to use rather.Adapted from information in Ashcraft, K., & Mumby, D. K. (2003). Refunctioning gender. Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage; Miller, C., & Swift, K. (1980). The handbook of nonsexist writing. New York: Lippincott & Crowell; Procter, M. (2007, September 11). Unbiased language. Retrieved July 2, 2008, from

Effective interaction is clear, factual, and goal-oriented. It is likewise respectful. Referring to a perchild by one adjective (a brain, a diabetic, an invalid) reduces that perboy to that one characteristic. Language that belittles or stereotypes a perboy poisons the communication process. Language that insults an individual or team based on age, ethnicity, sexual choice, or political beliefs violates public and also exclusive standards of decency, varying from civil rights to corpoprice regulations.

The initiative to develop a neutral set of terms to describe heritage and also choices has led to a dispute over the nature of “political correctness.” Proponents of political correctness view it as a way to defuse the volatile nature of words that stereotyped groups and also individuals in the past. Critics of political correctness check out its vocabulary as stilted and needlessly mindful.

Many suppliers market brand-new employees composed guides on requirements of speech and conduct. These guides, augmented by common sense and also courtesy, are solid beginning points for reliable, respectful worklocation communication. Tips for appropriate workplace speech encompass yet are not restricted to

Alternative the usage of “he” and “she” when referring to human being in general. Relying on humale resources–created guidelines. Remembering that terms that feel respectful or comfortable to us may not be comfortable or respectful to others.

Poor Listening and Active Listening

Former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca lamented, “I only wish I might uncover an institute that teaches civilization how to listen. After all, a great manager needs to listen at leastern as much as he demands to talk.”Iacocca, L., & Novak, W. (1984). Iacocca: An autobiography. New York: Bantam Press. Research reflects that listening skills are pertained to proactivities.Sypher, B. D., Bostrom, R. N., & Seibert, J. H. (1989). Listening, interaction abilities, and success at work-related. Journal of Company Communication, 26, 293–303. A Sender might strive to provide a Blog post plainly. But the Receiver’s capacity to listen effectively is equally essential to efficient communication. The average worker spends 55% of her workdays listening. Managers listen as much as 70% each day. But listening doesn’t cause knowledge in eincredibly case. Listening takes exercise, ability, and also concentration.

According to College of San Diego professor Phillip Hunsaker, “The after-effects of poor listening are reduced employee performance, missed sales, unhappy customers, and also billions of dollars of boosted expense and also lost earnings. Poor listening is a element in low employee morale and also raised turnover bereason employees perform not feel their supervisors listen to their demands, suggestions, or complaints.”Alessandra, T., Garner, H., & Hunsaker, P. L. (1993). Communicating at work. New York: Simon & Schuster. Clbeforehand, if you hope to have a effective career in monitoring, it behooves you to learn to be a good listener.

Alan Gulick, a Starbucks spokesperchild, puts better listening to work in search of much better revenues. If every Starbucks employee misheard one $10 order each day, he calculates, their errors would cost the company a billion dollars every year. To teach its employees to listen, Starbucks developed a code that helps employees taking orders hear the dimension, flavor, and also usage of milk or decaf coffee. The perkid making the drink echoes the order aloud.

How can you boost your listening skills? The Roman theorist Cicero shelp, “Silence is among the excellent arts of conversation.” How regularly have actually we been in conversation with someone else where we are not really listening yet itching to convey our portion? This behavior is well-known as “rehearsing.” It suggests the Receiver has no intention of considering the Sender’s Message and intends to respond to an previously point rather. Clearly, rehearsing is an impediment to the interaction procedure. Effective communication depends on another sort of listening: active listening.

Active listeningGiving full attention to what various other human being are saying. have the right to be characterized as giving complete attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand also the points being made, asking questions as correct, and also not interrupting at incorrect times.O*NET Resource Center, the nation’s major source of occupational information. Retrieved July 2, 2008, from listening creates a real-time partnership between the Sender and the Receiver by acknowledging the content and also receipt of a Article. As we’ve watched in the Starbucks example, repeating and confirming a Message’s content supplies a way to confirm that the correct content is flowing between colleagues. The process creates a bond between coworkers while increasing the circulation and accuracy of messaging.

Carl Rogers, founder of the “person-centered” strategy to psychology, formulated 5 rules for energetic listening:

Listen for message content Listen for feelings Respond to feelings Keep in mind all cues Paraexpression and restate

The good news is that listening is a skill that can be learned.Brownell, J. (1990). Perceptions of reliable listeners: A administration research. Journal of Firm Communications, 27, 401–415. The initially action is to decide that we desire to listen. Casting aside distractions, such as by reducing background or internal noise, is crucial. The Receiver absorbs the Sender’s Article silently, without speaking. 2nd, throughout the conversation, present the speaker that you’re listening. You can execute this nonverbally by nodding your head and keeping your attention focused on the speaker. You have the right to likewise execute it verbally, by saying things favor, “Yes,” “That’s exciting,” or other such verbal cues. As you’re listening, pay attention to the Sender’s body language for extra cues around how they’re feeling. Interestingly, silence plays a significant function in active listening. During energetic listening, we are trying to understand what has actually been said, and also in silence, we deserve to take into consideration the ramifications. We can’t consider indevelopment and reply to it at the same time. That’s where the power of silence comes into play. Finally, if anything is not clear to you, ask concerns. Confirm that you’ve heard the message accurately, by repeating ago an important piece like, “Great, I’ll watch you at 2 p.m. in my office.” At the end of the conversation, a “give thanks to you” from both parties is an optional but highly effective means of acknowledging each other’s collaboration.

See more: I Just Want To Be Loved By You ", Patty Loveless

In summary, energetic listening creates a much more dynamic relationship between a Receiver and also a Sender. It strengthens personal investment in the information being mutual. It also forges healthy working relationships among colleagues by making Speakers and Listeners equally valued members of the communication procedure.