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Communication breakdowns aren’t uncommon in the workplace. Unfortunately, a lack of clear communication can be a killer and affect almost every asset of an organization. Recognizing the barriers to communication and ensuring that we’re doing our part to keep the lines of communication open is the first big step to good company health

It’s up to the employer and the employees to acknowledge workplace communication barriers and implement strategies to correct them. Below are the three most common communication barriers.   

Physical Barriers 

Loud machines, messy handwriting, telecommunication outages, and illness are all physical barriers that negatively affect communication. Employers and employees must recognize the physical obstacles and develop systems to overcome these communication interruptions. Companies can implement verbal confirmations and emails instead of handwritten notes. Employers can equip offices and job sites with equipment powered by multiple telecommunication companies. It’s essential that employees understand the company’s communications policies and procedures and that they follow them. A lack of communication can lead to the loss of millions of dollars or severe workplace accidents. Physical barriers are easily overcome if the employer recognizes the issues and the employees follow proper protocols.      

Perceptual Barriers 

Perceptual barriers can be more challenging to overcome because of the human element. An individual’s experiences, interests, background, and culture can impact how a message is received. When the employer or the employee sends and receives messages through their filter, they won’t necessarily be received with clarity. Having standard language established and recognized can help eliminate personal bias in statements. Suppose perception is a significant barrier to communication. In that case, the employer should develop a common language that should be documented and distributed to employees. The language should also be reviewed regularly. Employees should ensure they understand the language and follow it at all times.   

Emotional Barriers  

Like perceptual, emotional barriers are driven by humans. Unlike perception, it’s up to each individual to ensure they are not allowing their emotions to break down communication. Anxiety, embarrassment, fear, and anger are examples of when emotions harm communication. Employers and employees must take inventory of their feelings and ensure they conduct themselves professionally. Emotionally charged conversations can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Everybody must keep their cool and ensure that the lines of communication stay open and civil. 

Poor communication leads to inefficiencies and low morale. Improving communication is up to everybody in the company. One person can’t fix the problem; it has to be a collective effort. However, when communication is open and transparent, things run smoothly, and everybody is happy.   

Job Skills, a non-profit charitable community-based employment, and training organization have successfully delivered employment solutions for 30+ years across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and neighbouring regions. Today, the agency provides employment, employer, business, and newcomer services and programs in York and Peel Regions.

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