Barriers to
Effective Communication

In an arbitrary order, I mention here four of the most fundamental barriers to effective communication in an organizational context. Unfortunately these barriers abound, and for the most part, managers are not even aware of them.

1) Lack of candor
2) Closed communication environment
3) Lack of everyday performance conversations
4) Lack of feedback

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1) Lack of candor

Among the worst barriers to effective communication is the lack of candor.

To find out about how to create candor within your team, read my communication for teams page.

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2) Closed communication environment

If, within your organization – be it a small team or an entire company – prevails a closed communication environment, you have a barrier right there.

And worse, if your own behaviors are nurturing this environment, it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to break down these barriers to communication.

To read my discussion about closed communication environments versus open environments and how to move from the former to the latter, take a look at my communication techniques page.

Photo courtesy of Dan Taylor

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3) Lack of everyday performance conversations

If you have employees reporting directly to you, it is very likely that you hold day-to-day performance conversations with them.

However, if you don’t have a process to guide these daily conversations with them, you are probably missing on the power, ease, and effectiveness of a performance conversation process, in which case, you might unconsciously be creating barriers to effective communication.

Rather than looking around for a pre-made / off-the-shelf process, we strongly suggest you design one yourself, according to your specific circumstances and needs.

Look at the nature, characteristics, and patterns of your daily performance conversations, and with feedback from your direct reports, design a process that meets your needs.

It doesn’t have to be anything elaborated; it can be a three or a five-step process. What is important however, it is that this process allow you to have clear rules of dialogue:

- Listening
- Feedback
- Check for understanding
- Etc.

It is also important that this process allow you and your employees produce the outcomes you need to create, for example:

- Agreements
- Goal setting
- Consequences for reaching and not reaching agreed upon goals
- Etc.

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3) Lack of feedback

Another one among the barriers to effective communication is the lack of feedback.

Feedback is one of the best tools to improve communication; yet, it is one of the most underused and misused communication skills.

However, giving and receiving feedback is a skill, and you must learn how to properly deliver it, otherwise you may do more harm than good.

To learn about how to properly deliver feedback, click here.

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If you manage to consciously overcome all of these communication barriers, you will see a direct impact in the performance of your organization.

To keep on learning about management skills, go back to the previous page (or click here ), and continue reading in a sequential order.

If you would like your organization to overcome its existing barriers to effective communication through my speaking or consulting services, please click on this link.

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