5 Types of Barriers to Effective Communication

Is communication easy ? Probably Yes. But why does interacting with people sometimes feel so difficult, complicated or frustrating ?

In such situations, every individual has to encounter some communication barriers that can hinder both professional and personal life. These barriers can generate confusion, conflict and misunderstanding by creating bottlenecks, delays and distortions of information.

It is essential to find out these types of barriers to effective communication and take steps to remove them for the accomplishment of effective communication.

What are Communication Barriers ?

The term ‘barrier’ means ‘hurdle’ , ‘hindrance’ or ‘obstacle’. Thus, barriers to communication imply hurdles or obstacles on the way of transmission of message from the sender to the receiver. In practice, there exist several barriers in communication which render it ineffective.

According to Haiilo.com, Communication barriers can include anything that prevents or disables communicators to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time, or a receiver to get the right message at the right time.

Sometimes, barriers tend to distort the message and create friction among the people and also adversely affect the morale of the person as well as are injurious to team-work.

Types of Barriers to Effective Communication

Various types of barriers to effective communication may be classified as under :

  1. Physical barriers
  2. Language barriers
  3. Socio-psychological barriers.
  4. Organisational barriers.
  5. Personal barriers.

Physical Barriers

physical barriers


Communication does not occur in totally noise-free environment. Noise, though of varying degree, disturbs or interferes with communication. Due to higher level of noise in telelphone some time irrelevant information may be screened out and some time relevant information may be left out.

Adverse weather conditions and faulty tele-communication system are the other most common barriers. Noise due to heavy traffic machines, human sounds, construction/demolition works, fans etc., make communication difficult.


Long distances between the senders and receivers can also obstruct effective communication. If sender and receiver are separated by geographical distances, tele-communication is most often resorted to-disturbance in telephone connection can result in miscommunication or incomplete communication.


Time refers to the reaching of the message. If an important message reaches late it is sure to affect communication. For instance, factories have shift systems. Persons working in different shifts fail to communicate due to time gap.

Information Overload

It refers to excessive transmission of information. Much more information than what the receiver can process is transmitted to him. The receiver cannot understand, digest, analyse and act upon information overload that is beyond his mental capacity.

Use of Words with Different Meanings

Communication is mainly carried through spoken and written words. But the words used may convey different meanings to different people. For example, the word ‘tube’ may mean a fluorescent tube, a cycle tube, or a water tube.

Related : Effective Feedback in Communication

Language Barriers

language barriers

Unclear Message

Lack of clarity and precision in a message makes it badly expressed. Poorly chosen and empty words and phrases, careless omission, lack of coherence, bad organisation of ideas, awkward sentence structure, inadequate vocabulary, platitudes, numbing repetition jargon, failure to clarify implications are some common faults found in this case.

Words or Symbols with Multiple Meanings

A word may have several meanings. The receiver has to percieve one such meaning for the word used for the communicator. For example, the word ‘value’ may be used in three different senses:

  • The value of this book is 200.
  • We value our customers.
  • The value of learning computer skills lies in the fact that jobs in industry are highly demanding.

In the first example, the term ‘value’ means ‘cost’ while in the second and third examples, it means ‘importance’. In business, the term ‘values’ is also used to convey ‘ethical business practices.

Technical Words or Jargons

It is often found that specialists and technical personnel tend to use technical language of their respective fields. This increases their isolation from others and builds a communication barrier.

Whatever be the intention of this special language, it hinders their communication with persons not in their speciality. because of the receiver’s ignorance of that type of language.

Faulty Translation

Sometimes, the instructions originally drafted in one language need to be translated to the language understood by the workers. If the translator is not proficient with both the languages, mistakes may creep in causing different meaning than the intended one.

Body Language and Gestures

Alongwith verbal communication, another important mode of communication is body language and gestures used by the person who is talking. If the verbal communication is not matching with the body language, the listener may get confused and misunderstand the meaning.

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socio-psychological barriers

Differences in Perception

Perceptual barriers may arise due to differences between individuals in the way they perceive, organise and understand their environment. Sometimes, barrier may also be due to the use of a particular language or jargon by the people belonging to the same occupational group.

Differences in Attitudes

People differ with regard to attitudes and opinions which often interfere with communication. For example, if the message is consistent with our attitudes and opinions we receive it favourably.

On the other hand, if the message is contrary to our expectations, beliefs and cherished values we do not react favourably to it.


How the receiver feels at the time of receipt of information influences effectively how he interprets the information.

For example, if the receiver feels that the communicator is in jovial mood, he interprets that the information being sent by the communicator to be good and interesting. Extreme emotions and jubilation or depression are quite likely to hinder the effectiveness of communication.


Communication has no impact on those who are unable or unwilling to listen. This may be a matter of motivation. If people do not pay the required degree of attention to listening and understanding the messages they are supposed to receiver, communication will lose its purpose.

Closed Minds

One of the assumptions implicit in the communication process is that both the receiver and the sender have open minds, which enable them to process information in an uninhibited manner.

If people limit their ‘agenda’ to their own narrow goals and views, no effective communication is possible because closed minds regard all information as unnecessary ‘overload’

Resistance to Change

It is general tendency of human beings to maintain status quo. When new ideas are being communicated, the listening apparatus may act as a filter in rejecting new ideas. Thus resistance to change is an important obstacle to effective communication.

Sometimes, organisations announce changes which seriously affect the employees, e.g., changes in timings, places and order of work, installation of new plant, etc. Changes affect people in different ways and it may take some time to think through the full meaning on the message.

Cultural Differences

Cultural differences are faced when managers deal with people of different cultures. Culture refers to values, beliefs, norms, attitudes and perceptions of people of different nations.

Also Read : Weird Roles of Motivation.

Organisational Barriers

organisational barriers

Status Relationships

Organisation structure creates a number of status levels among the members of the organisation. Status refers to the regard and attitude displayed and held towards a position by the members of the organisation.

For instance, there is a difference in the status level of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and director- incharge of production of a company. This difference becomes apparent as one communicates with another. This may create hurdles in two-way-communication.

One-way Flow

Effective communication is a two-way street. In two-way communication, both the sender and the receiver feel free to interact in ways which tend to enhance the quality of the exchange process.

But where the flow of feedback from the receiver or the listener is blocked, understanding will suffer. In fact, one-way communication in some situations is not communication at all.

Complex Organisation Structure

The organisation structure has an important influence on the ability of the members of the organisation to communicate effectively. But these days, the organisation structure of most big enterprises is complex involving several layers of supervision, long communication lines, co- existence of specialists etc.

Rigid Rules and Regulations

Organisational rules and regulations affect the flow of communication by prescribing the subject-matter to be communicated and also the channel through which these are to be communicated. The rules may restrict the flow of certain messages and may leave many important ones.

On the other hand, communication through proper channel in a specified way prescribed by these rules delays it and works against the willingness of persons to convey the message.

Distance Barriers

Distance is another barrier to effective communication. If both communicator and communicatee are at distant places, the communicatee fails to get the immediate clarification required. He implements the way, he understands the communication.

Personal Barriers

personal barriers

Attitude of Superiors

The attitudes of superiors towards communication in gener or in any particular direction affect the flow of messages in different directions. For example, if this attitude is unfavourable, there is a greater possibility that message would not flow adequately from and/or to superior.

Lack of Confidence

Superiors generally perceive, correct otherwise, that their subordinates are less competent and capable, they are not ab to advise superiors or they may not have some information coming downwards.

Insistence of Proper Channel

One of the basic features of superiors’ exercising of the authority is that they wish to remain in communication links and they do no like any type of bypassing in communication.

Communication through bypassing may sometimes, be necessary but superiors treat this as thwarting of their authority and this blocks the flow of communication.

Ignoring Communication

Sometimes superiors consciously and deliberately ignore the communication from their subordinates to maintain their importance. This works against the willingness of subordinates to communicate.

Shortage of Time

“No time”, “lack of time” are the terms frequently used by the superiors. They do not spare considerable time to talk to their subordinates. They feel, whether real or not, that they are overburdened with work.

Message Overload

Message overload is really a hurdle in the communication process. If message overload is routine, there is a grave danger to the orderly and smooth flow of communication. The effect of overload may be omission of message errors, delay, filtering, approximation. They are barriers to communication.

Noise as a Barrier

Noise is the disruption or interference in communication process anywhere along the way. It can occur at any point in the communication process.

Noise can be the sound of someone coughing, a truck driving by, or two people talking close at hand It can also include disruptions such as a letter being lost in the mail ( either traditional or electronic ), a telephone line going dead, or one of the participants in a conversation being called away before the communication process is completed.

Related : How to overcome the Communication Barriers ?

FAQ : Types of Barriers to Effective Communication

Que. What are the Barriers of Communication ?

Ans. The term barrier means hurdle, hindrance or obstacle. Thus, barriers to communication imply hurdles or obstacles on the way of transmission of message from the sender to the receiver.

Que. What are the types of Barriers to Effective Communication ?

Ans. Various types of barriers to effective communication may be classified as under :

  1. Physical barriers
  2. Language barriers
  3. Socio-psychological barriers.
  4. Organisational barriers.
  5. Personal barriers.

Que. How to overcome the Communication Barriers ?

Ans. Communication Barriers can be overcome by being confident, choosing the right channel, by being clear with your message.

Tag : 5 types of Barriers to Effective Communication, Communication Barriers

3 thoughts on “5 Types of Barriers to Effective Communication”

  1. I really like reading through a post that can make men and women think. Also, thank you for allowing me to comment!


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