Barriers of communication

What are the barriers of communication?

Obstacles of communication are what keep you from being good in communication skills. And communication skill isn’t something you can compromise on, you shouldn’t.

Know these barriers of communication to overcome what keeps you from being a master of communication.

There’s nothing we can do for anyone or anyone, yes anyone can do for us unless we communicate. What is communication? It is the skill or method of conveying a message by the sender and understanding that message by the receptor.

You want any work done, you communicate that desire, method, plan, and the consequence to everyone you want to be involved. It’s then that things, ideas, outcomes, progress, and results come into existence. Without communication all this is nothing.

You can’t even hush a baby, yeah, even that’s communication. But thank God that we have it, and here we are communicating.


Being called a skill, communication skill, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea to master this skill. Many suffer even from using communication skills efficiently. And if the message gets miscommunicated, it might well end up bad, or even worse at times.

A lifetime struggle if you don’t master this art, to a manageable extent. And a lifetime reward if you’re a master of art in communication skills. You’re admired, you’re loved, you’re respected and listened to. If you know when to say, how to say, what to say, where to say and whom to say it to, you got it right.

Define communication
Interpersonal communication

What makes some of us not so good at communication?

What makes you less successful? Your failures. And what are failures? Obstacles to success. That’s what it is, and having good communication skills is a success.

And what stops you from having it are obstacles, the barriers of communication. These are the speed breakers on the road to successful communication. You speak and nobody takes you seriously. Someone else comes and makes his point clear, though the same one which you tried.

You don’t want this to happen, do you? Not do I. Let’s discuss the common barriers of communication.

List of Barriers of Communication

  • Linguistic Barriers
  • Psychological Barriers
  • Emotional Barriers
  • Physical Barriers
  • Cultural Barriers
  • Perception Barriers
  • Physiological Barriers
  • Organizational Structure Barriers
  • Attitude Barriers
  • Technological barriers
  • Socio-religious barriers

Linguistic barriers to communication

Speaking of communication, the first picture that pops in our head is a person talking with elegance. At least that’s what I got when I thought of it. And for anyone to talk, he needs a language. I mean we need a language to communicate even with computers, right?

But like we can’t use the language we use to speak to have intelligible communication with a computer. Because it will be incomprehensible and unintelligible.

Hence we have to be very selective in using the language to communicate considering whom are we addressing.

barriers of communication

So, if you need to communicate with someone with whom you don’t share a common language, you will find it extremely difficult to communicate. And you get forced down to sign language which can never be a replacement for speech.

Your point of view cannot be clear as your facial expression and body language may show emotions but not the precise concept that you want to convey. Translators are used for overcoming this language barrier.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place

George Bernard Shaw

Inappropriate vocabulary, is a barrier to communication

You might have seen people in an intensely emotional situation trying to make a point. But struggling to convey the message and its intensity may be running short on adjectives and adverbs or maybe more than that.

Their vocabulary doesn’t support their emotional intensity and their body language, they are totally out of synchronization. It’s like you are in the middle of a fight and you run short of bullets.

You need a resource of high-quality vocabulary in your possession in order to equip yourself and be capable to put forth your point of view. The more vocabulary you master, the stronger you can convey the message. Using this vocabulary is of course a skill to be practiced to sharpen your communication skills.

Lack of experience

Practice makes a man perfect, or less erroneous at least. I won’t be wrong if I consider communication skills as the root of many other skills, like interpersonal relationship skills and negotiation skills to name a few.

Unless your interaction is confined to machines, you are in a requirement of communication skills in every field and every aspect of your life. No matter what your proficiency is, and no matter what field you work in, this particular mastery can take you to newer heights.


How can I get better with experience one might ask? Let’s put it this way, you take time to understand the body language, the subtle facial expressions, and the nonverbal cues.

Paying close attention and learning is vital in improving communication because communication comes in clusters, every form of communication is important.

Verbal communication and nonverbal, right from the tone of your voice, whether it’s angry or a friendly tone, takes keen observation and listening skills to learn. A small gesture, a small cue could change the decision, so pay attention to every detail the next time you’re communicating.

Speech disorder

Though it’s not a lack of practice here, natural condition like speech disorder is a barrier to communication.

It creates more pauses, and unnecessary stops and distracts the rhythm making it difficult for the listener to comprehend or maintain the focus level. Just as difficult as it is for the conveyor to deliver the message.

Emotional obstacles of communication

emotional barrier
Conquer your emotions

Emotional immaturity is in my view also a barrier to communication or effective communication at least.

How much sense does an angry man make when he shouts in rage? Unless you can overcome the tendency of any emotion to dominate your intelligence, you cannot maintain the worth of your words every time.

Emotions often overtake logic, and the brain occupied by an emotional wave is seldom reliable. These emotional barriers restrict effective communication as would an open mind do.  


We tend to give commitments under the influence of happiness which we practically don’t support when normal. As the effect of ecstasy fades, you might regret what you’ve said when happy.


Our brain functions the best in peace, easier to pay attention, easier to speak the mind out, make a point of view and we’re in control of what we say.

Stress gets our brain messed up, we fail to choose the right decision and we are more prone to mistakes. You don’t ask the opinions of stressed-out people, they themselves are in need of help.


The most vulnerable you are is when you’re angry. We often find ourselves in a regrettable situation had we let our mouth spill what it feels like in anger.

We’re less precautious, the energy pumping through us fades away the consequences of what we are doing or planning to do in the heat of the moment.

And when things settle down, we don’t have that energy anymore to deal with the consequences, nor the courage to deal with it. It sometimes even turns out to be immoral which we realize by the time we lose the opportunity to mend things.


Approach someone whom you hate and you know that you find it difficult to fake the smile and you can’t be nice genuinely.

Sometimes the fake is too apparent because when you’re face to face, it’s difficult to act and behave well. And communication without being genuine loses its charm. Hence these emotions are common barriers to effective communication.

Physical barriers to communication

door a physical barrier
The physical barrier of communication

Anything that restricts your message from being delivered is a barrier. And to begin with, the simplest and easiest ones which can be dealt with ease often are the physical barriers.

The physical situation, condition, or surrounding that obstruct communication or sometimes restricts it totally are the physical barriers of communication. Few are named below.

Defected equipment


Don’t just think of an earpiece, our ear itself is equipment, an organ more precisely though. Microphones, speakers, hearing aids, whatever thing that plays a role in making the communication happen needs to be word perfect for perfect communication.

The defect in any such equipment defects the message and creates a barrier in communication.


distant hands

Very obvious but worth mentioning barrier of communication is the distance. Thanks to the electronic inventions and devices we can now summon those we want to speak with on our palms or screens, but direct communication is limited to an extent where our voice can reach.

That too is if we’re in vocal communication, else the distance still is a barrier of communication if it’s visual communication. Even in electronic or satellite communication, we’re yet to reach out to aliens, if they exist of course.

Closed doors

This again is a very obvious obstacle to communicating with almost the same reasoning and exceptions as the above. A physical obstacle and no obstacle or being face to face does make a huge difference.

To emphasize it, let me make you imagine a glass barrier in between someone you are talking with face to face. Think of it and tell me how would that make you feel? You are close in proximity but the barrier still leaves an impact and would certainly act as a barrier between effective communication.



And despite having no barriers between you and being close sitting face to face, what could hurdle your communication is the noise.

The unwanted voices from around the proximity which is forcing you to make out the message being said out of all those noises. It’s quite an irritation.

I’ve heard there are some noise cancellation techniques like in cell phones even while we sit live with someone. I can’t wait to lay my hands on one, it would be such a relief. There’s nothing like a peaceful silent ambiance. We know why such places are preferred for important conversations.

To be concerned about others view about you.

What sometimes holds us back from speaking our hearts out is the thought and fear that what others might think of us if I say so?

Some are so obsessed with this that they are less concerned about their own problems than this illusion of threat. And this very thought holds them from being effective communicators.

1. Fear of mistakes

To add to this could be the fear of mistakes, which holds down an attempt to communicate. If you think why take a risk of being wrong? Then you stop yourself from that chance of communicating, which sometimes might be of utmost importance.

2. Fear of being judged

I can say almost the same thing about this as what was said for the fear of mistakes and the previous reason.

3. Too impressed by others

Hey, I can never be as cool as he/she is. Should I talk? How could I? I’m not cool, I shouldn’t talk, I should just listen to these cool guys. This also is a reason behind the fear we spoke about.

The inferiority complex some people live in is a huge barrier to communication. Don’t compare yourself to everyone around, unless it motivates you in a positive way.

A Puzzling Failure to Communicate

“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” That iconic line from the 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke nicely summarizes a puzzling fact of life: That two well-intended people, speaking the same language can come away from a conversation with two different takes on what was discussed. Time and again, both in our organizational and personal lives, we experience a lack of understanding that hinders both our effectiveness and the quality of our relationships. (Fortunately, though, these miscues don’t usually end in a flurry of gunfire, as in the movie.)

A recent book posits that part of the problem may lie in our inability to parse out the appropriate form of conversation for the situation. In The Four Conversations: Daily Communication That Gets Results (Berrett-Koehler, 2009), Jeffrey Ford and Laurie Ford contend that there are four kinds of productive conversations, each with a different purpose. By using these conversations at the right time and in the right way, we can improve our interactions with others and increase our chances for success.

  • Initiative Conversations share new ideas, goals, visions, and futures with people who can participate in implementing and making them real.
  • Understanding Conversations build awareness and knowledge of a new or existing idea in a way that helps people see how to participate.
  • Performance Conversations are requests and promises that generate specific actions, results, and agreements, and pave the way for accountability.
  • Closure Conversations support experiences of accomplishment, satisfaction, and value; strengthen accountability; and give people an honest look at the successes and failures on the way to reaching a goal.

According to the authors, in addition to matching the conversation to the circumstance, speakers need to make sure their conversations are complete. They suggest taking a lesson from journalists, who are trained to ask who, what, when, where, how, and why when investigating a story:

  • Who is involved?
  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • When do we want to accomplish it?
  • Where will the resources come from?
  • Why is this accomplishment important?
  • How will we get it done?

The Fords encourage analyzing our own patterns to determine which conversations and which elements may be missing. The next step is to practice the ones we find most challenging, whether it’s making a direct request of someone, explaining why something is important, expressing appreciation, or strengthening accountability. The good news, according to the authors, is that “Changing our conversations will change more than the way we speak. It will change our listening too, so that we will be more responsive to, and perhaps more responsible for, our human environment.”

Having experienced my fair share of communication mishaps, I’m ready to add a few more conversations to my repertoire. What about you?

Hence to master communication, you need a skill level to overcome these common barriers to effective communication. Of which, physical barriers are the easiest ones to get rid of, and the emotional barriers seem to be needing practice. You work for it, trust me, nothing can stop you from achieving it. Communication skills is a huge factor in making your personality.