28 Nov 2015


UI Design



MAY 2015

BDKN 3103


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1.0     INTRODUCTION                                                                       2

          ORGANIZATIONS                                                                    4

3.0     BARRIERS TO COMMUNICATION                                        5

4.0     STRATEGIES TO OVERCOME BARRIERS IN COMMUNICATION                                                                  10

REFERENCES                                                                                  16


Effective Communication is significant for managers in the organizations so as to perform the basic functions of management, i.e., Planning, Organizing, Leading and Controlling. Communication helps managers to perform their jobs and responsibilities. Communication serves as a foundation for planning. All the essential information must be communicated to the managers who in-turn must communicate the plans so as to implement them. Organizing also requires effective communication with others about their job task. Similarly, leaders as managers must communicate effectively with their subordinates so as to achieve the team goals. Controlling is not possible without written and oral communication.

Managers devote a great part of their time in communication. They generally devote approximately 6 hours per day in communicating. They spend great time on face to face or telephonic communication with their superiors, subordinates, colleagues, customers or suppliers. Managers also use Written Communication in form of letters, reports or memos wherever oral communication is not feasible.

Today's business communicators are fortunate in that they have a variety of forms of communication to choose from. Different business situations and different employee needs demand the use of multiple communication channels to drive messages home effectively. An understanding of the benefits of various types of organizational communication can help business people communicate most effectively.

1)      Face-to-Face
Technology will never replace the benefit and power of face-to-face communication. When in doubt, or whenever a communication is critical and it's possible to meet face-to-face, do so. The personal connection that occurs when two or more people are able to interact real-time is significant.

2)      Email
Email probably has changed the organizational communication environment more significantly than any other technology introduction over the past several decades, according to Thinkquest. Email is fast, efficient and allows for a record of the interaction. But, while email can be very effective, business people should avoid over-using it. Sometimes an in-person interaction is best.

3)      Telephone
The telephone is still a mainstay in any business environment, although more of these telephones are becoming the mobile variety. Sometimes email works well; sometimes nothing beats the more personal connection that can be achieved over the phone--even with colleagues hundreds, or thousands, of miles away.

4)      Video
Video can be a great way to communicate with employees, particularly when they are separated by distance. And, today's very inexpensive video cameras, and Internet technology, make it very easy for business communicators to tape and communicate via video. The iPad is expected to have an even greater impact on the ease of use and prevalence of video in the business environment, according to Steve Vonder Haar, Research Director and Founder of Interactive Media Strategies.

5)      Town Hall Meetings
The opportunity to get a group of employees together in a room for a meeting can be a very effective form of organizational communication, according to Lin Grensing-Pophal, author of "Employee Management for Small Business." It offers the power of interpersonal connections and provides an opportunity for employees to listen and learn from each other.

2.0       The Importance of Good Communication in the    

Effective communication is an inseparable part of successful organizations. Better communication skills at workplace enables the employees as well as the employer to function smoothly and effectively, which leads to higher performance and higher productivity. It is often found that people tend to neglect about the importance of having a good communication in an organization. This often leads to a critical situation and the organization faces difficulties in several aspects such as reduced productivity, wastage of resources, delays in deliveries and workplace conflicts. Communication gap could be the biggest enemy within a particular organization which hinders creativity and profit.

In this paragraph, let’s just take a look on the various impacts of having a better and clear communication in an organization or any workplace.

a)      Enhanced Job Satisfaction
Providing job satisfaction to its employees forms the key element for a successful organization. Open communication between the managers, subordinates and other vendors creates a hassle-free environment and each of the employees feels considered upon. This helps to build loyalty and trust with in that organization.

b)     Increased Productivity
Improper communication leads to lack of information and wastage of useful resources, whereas better communication leads to better understanding of the matter, which in turn improves the productivity and the turnaround time.

c)      Good Relationships with Co-workers
Open communication is highly important for each employee to understand different viewpoints and suggestions. If each person shows willingness to enquire about others' opinions on a particular subject and feels free to express their own views, then it’s easy to maintain better relationships at workplace. Team work is very essential for any organization to be successful. Good relationship among the team members uplifts the team spirit and that leads to a positive well-rounded growth for the employees as well as the organization.

d)     Optimum Utilization of the Resources
Miscommunication can result in delays in delivery and reduced quality outputs. Each organization should make sure that there are enough communication channels established within the organization which helps its employees to have a friendly and healthy environment. Clarity in communication also helps the managers and the employees to plan and schedule different resources so as to ensure optimum utilization. This in turn increases the productivity.

Thus better communication goes hand in hand with the success of an organization or any workplace, for that matter. So it’s ideal for the organizations to introduce professional communication skills training for all its employees. Such training leads to professional success.


Barriers to communication arise from a variety of sources such as complex organizational structure, sue of ambiguous words, perceptual differences of sender and receiver, status difference etc. Theo Haimann has classified the main barriers to communication into four major groups. These are:

  • Barriers caused by organizational structure.
  • Barriers caused by status or positions.
  • Barriers caused by language.
  • Barriers resulting from the general inclination to resist change.

McFarland has classified the communication barriers into the following four groups:
  • Unsound objectives
  • Organizational blocks
  • Semantic blocks
  • Human relations problems

Ricky W. Griffin has classified the communication barriers into two broad groups such as (a) Individual barriers and (b) Organizational barriers.

For convenience of discussion we can classify the barriers to communication in the following four categories:

  • Organizational barriers
  • Individual barriers
  • Semantic barrier
  • Other barriers
Types of communication barriers
Figure 1: Types of communication barriers

  1. Organizational barriers: The barriers that generate form within the organization are known as organizational barriers may be of the following types:

·         Negative organizational climate: The main aspect of organizational climate that acts as communication barrier is the negative attitude of top management. Negative attitude of top management discourages communication initiative of the employees.
·         Absence of communication policy: Well-designed communication policy encourages communication in the organization. In the absence of such policies, employees fail hesitate to communicate.
·         Excessive authority layers: Excessive authority layers acts as a severe impediment to successful communication. In the case of excessive authority impediment to successful communication. In the case of excessive authority layers, information reaches to its final destination passing through several hierarchical levels. As a result, information may be distorted or lost. Excessive authority layers also causes delay in communication.
·         Filtering: Filtering implies willful distortion of information. This problem usually arise in upward communication. In upward communication, employees tend to pass only those messages that create positive impression about them.

  1. Individual Barriers: Barriers created by the sender and receiver are known as individual barriers. Such barriers include the following:

·         Differences in personality: Personality is the set of attributes that define a person. Every person holds a distinct personality. This individual nature of personality acts as barrier to communication.
·         Perceptual differences: Perception is the unique way in which people respond or interpret an object. Difference in perception is a very common problem in effective communication. It for example, a subscriber of Telekom Malaysia land phone in Malaysia may positively react to the government’s move to privatize TM expecting a better service. But an employee of TM might view this as step to cut jobs and retrench existing employees.
·         Fear: Fear of reprisal or attack, fear of criticism for knowing very little etc. may create problem in communication.
·         Stereotyping: Stereotyping is generalizing about a class of people or events that is widely held by a given culture. In case of stereotyping, people develop communication statements and mindsets about others. This orientation exposes itself in such statements and mindsets. For example, “All used car salesmen are dishonest,” or “All foreign recruiting agents are liars.” Such all-inclusive perceptions not only are seldom correct but they also block mental activity that is necessary for successful communication.
·         Halo Effect: The halo effect is the tendency to use a general impression based on one or a few characteristics to judge other characteristics of that same individual. For example, a manger might identify one trait of an employee, such as an excellent attendance record, and perceive that the employee’s productivity and quality of work must also be outstanding.
·         Inattention: Sometimes communication does not reach due to the inattention of the receiver. Such inattention may result from busyness, lack of interest about subject, suffering from disease or family problem etc.

  1. Language or Semantic Barrier: A common barrier to effective communication is semantic distortion, which can be deliberate or accidental. Semantic problem arises when words and symbols have different meanings for different people that lead to a misunderstanding. For examples, an advertisement states, “we sell for less.” It is ambiguous and raises the question: less than what? In another case, during meeting, a male colleague said to one of his female colleague, “Why don’t you dye it?” meaning her hair. The female colleague thought he said, “Why don’t you diet?” she did not speak to him for a month. Semantic barrier presents difficult challenge when people from different cultures communicate with each other.

  1. Other Barriers: The following factors also act as the barrier to effective communication:

·         Information Overload: Information overload may also be a problem of effective communication. Information overload is the situation when a person is given too much information at a time.
·         Faulty expression: Faulty expression of message fails to convey exact meaning to the receiver. It happens due to lack of clarity, use of vague terms, badly expressed information, improper organization of ideas etc.
·         Status or power difference: Communication problem may arise when people of different power or status try to communicate with each other. For example, the manager of a company may neglect suggestion from his subordinates simply because of difference in their status. This under treatment of people makes the communication ineffective.
·         Negative attitudes to change: Some people always resist any kind of change in the organization. They think that ‘old is good, and are fearful about the changes. Therefore, they create problems in communication through inattention, false interpretation, rumor, resistance and non-cooperation.
·         Noise: Environment factors may also disrupt effective communication. One such factor is noise. For example, in oral communication, noise hiders smooth flow of information or message. In factories, loud noise of machines makes oral communication very difficult.


The principal barriers to effective communication are: noise, poor feedback, selection of inappropriate media, a wrong mental attitude, insufficient or lack of attention to work selection, delay in message transmittal, physical separation of the sender and receiver, and lack of empathy or a good relationship between the sender and receiver.

Let's examine each of these barriers and possible steps to overcome them. As we conduct this examination, we should remember that any two or more of these barriers may occur in combination.

1)      The Noise Barrier
Samuel Hoffenstein in his poem, "The Wind in the Trees," illustrates quite beautifully the distraction that noise may cause. He says:

When the wind is in the tree,
It makes a noise just like the sea,
As if there were not noise enough
To bother one, without that stuff.

Noise is any random or persistent disturbance that obscures, reduces, or confuses the clarity or quality of the message being transmitted. In other words, it is any interference that takes place between the sender and the receiver. This is why we generally identify any communication problem that can't be fully explained as "noise." The biggest single cause of noise in the communication process may be the assumption that the act of communicating is a simple process - that it doesn't require much thought or practice and all effective managers were born with this skill. This is not true. Effective communication comes with study and practice. The effectiveness of the communication process is dependent upon the capabilities of the senders and receivers.

To overcome the noise barrier to effective communication, one must discover its source. This may not be easy. Noise appears in a variety of ways. During a conversation, have you ever been distracted by the pictures on the wall, the view from the window, a report lying open on a desk, or a conversation taking place in an adjacent room? Many people have been so distracted.

In the perusal of a written communication, have you ever been confused by irrelevant material or the illogical approach taken by the author? Again, many people have.

Once the source, or sources, of the noise has been identified, steps can be taken to overcome it. The noise barrier can't always be overcome but, fortunately, just the awareness of its existence by either the sender or the receiver of a message can help to improve the communication flow.

2)      The Feedback Problem
Feedback is reaction, Without it, the sender of the message cannot know whether the recipient has received the entire message or grasped its intent.

The need for feedback should be clearly understood. Feedback is the return of a portion of the message to the sender with new information. It regulates both the transmission and reception. The whole process is straightforward: the sender transmits the message via the most suitable communication media; the receiver gets the message, decodes it, and provides feedback.

In oral, face-to-face communication, the process doesn't happen quite this way. All of these actions occur almost simultaneously. For example, the sender is acting as a receiver while transmitting the message; the receiver is acting as a sender while receiving the message. When the message is transmitted and effectively received, feedback serves as a regulating device. The sender continually adjusts his transmission in response to the feedback. Feedback also alerts the sender to any disruptive noise that may impede reception of the message.

There is no feedback in a one-way communication. Such a communication involves passing ideas, information, directions, and instructions from higher management down the chain of command without asking for a response or checking to see if any action has taken place. It is not enough to ensure the message has been received. For communication to be effective, a two-way process must exist so the sender knows whether the message has been understood. The two-way communication process involves sending a message down the chain of command and transmitting a response containing information, ideas, and feelings back up the chain. This process has been referred to sometimes as "a process of material influence."

Feedback not only regulates the communication process, but reinforces and stimulates it. In fact, it actually serves as the hallmark of dialogue, because it forces communication and makes it dual. Dual expression, when combined with mutual feedback, becomes a dialogue.

3)      The Problem of Media Selection
In any given situation the medium, or media, for communication must be selected. One medium may work better than another. However, in many cases a combination of media may be used for the communication process to function effectively.

Henry H. Albers says that no one communication medium can adequately serve the diverse functional and personal problems of organization dynamics. He believes that "a repetition of ideas in different terms is useful in solving some communication problems." The question then emerges, what combination of media would be most effective? Any project to develop the one best combination of media would prove rather fruitless. There are many combinations that can provide satisfactory results.

The personal qualities of the manager should be a consideration in media selection. As manager, you should recognize your strengths and limitations. You should evaluate your successes and failures in communication and plan to use the media that best fits your style and qualities.

Generally, managers make more frequent use of oral, rather than written, communication. However, the media one selects for communication in a particular situation should correlate with the feedback requirements. A communication failure or partial failure could occur if the media you select for transmittal of a message is inappropriate and necessary feedback is not received. Most simple messages can be transmitted orally - either in a face-to-face discussion, formal briefing, or meeting of the staff. More complex messages should be written in a directive, instruction, memorandum, or report. Very complex messages should be transmitted in both oral and written form. Repetition and review of an oral communication in written form can be a facilitating device.

4)      Empathy and Other Relationships
We live in a "verbal" environment. Words constitute the most frequently used tool for communicating. Words usually facilitate communication; however, their careless, improper use in a given situation can create a communication barrier. Arthur Kudner, an advertising executive, once told his son: "All big things have little names such as life and death, peace and war, or dawn, day, night, hope, love, and home. Learn to use little words in a big way. It is hard to do, but they say what you mean. When you don't know what you mean - use big words; they often fool little people."

The words we use should be selected carefully. Dr. Rudolph Flesch, a specialist in words and communication, suggests a way to break through the word barrier:

·         Use familiar words in place of the unfamiliar
·         Use concrete words in place of the abstract
·         Use short words in place of long
·         Use single words in place of several

Unfortunately, almost every commonly used word has more than one meaning. Also words have regional meanings or derive new meanings as a result of the development of new industries or fields. The meaning conveyed by the sender's words depends upon the experience and attitude of the receiver. Therefore, one way to penetrate the word barrier is for the sender to strive to speak or write in terms of the receiver's experience and attitude. The better able he is to do this, the more successful the communication will be. Dr. S. E. Hayakawa, a U.S. Senator from California, expressed it very well when he said, "The meanings of words are not in the words; they are in us."

5)      Empathy and Other Relationships
Lack of empathy can create a barrier between the sender and receiver. Empathy, as defined in the Dictionary, is "understanding so intimate that the feelings, thoughts, and motives of one are readily comprehended by another." You can transmit a better message if you can put yourself in the receiver's place and analyze the message from his viewpoint. The same holds true for the receiver. He must be able to empathize with you. That is, the sender, as well as the receiver, must try to project himself into the other's personality if he wants to increase his potential for effective communication.

The ability to empathize with someone else may not be easy. If you are to see things from another's viewpoint, you have to put aside your own prejudices and preconceptions. The receiver may be of a different race, creed, educational background, from a different section of the country, or have a different specialty or rank within the organization. Under these circumstances, the task of empathizing with the other member of the communication link is difficult. The task is further complicated if you believe that understanding another's viewpoint may pose a threat to your own.

To better communicate, we must try to see ourselves through the eyes of others in the communication link. By developing some empathy with the people to whom we will be directing messages, we might recognize the need to modify our messages from time to time before sending them.

Douglas McGregor, one of the leading authorities on management practices, has said: "It is a fairly safe generalization that difficulties in communication within an organization are more often than not, mere symptoms of underlying difficulties in relationships between parties involved. When communication is ineffective, one needs to look first at the nature of these relationships rather than at ways of improving communication".

The relationship between the people involved in any communication process may form a greater barrier to the effectiveness of the communication between them than any other barrier discussed here. If the relationship between the people participating in the communication is good, the communication has a greater chance for success. This is true whether the communication takes place in oral or written form.

The quality of the relationship between the sender and receiver determines to a great extent the ability of the person transmitting the message to penetrate the communication barrier.


McCroskey, J. C., & Richmond, V. P. (1996). Human communication theory and research: Traditions and models. In M. B. Salwen & D. W. Stacks (Eds.).

Richmond, V. P., & McCroskey, J. C. (1998). Communication: Apprehension, avoidance, and effectiveness. (5th ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Referenceforbusiness.com,. 'Communication In Organizations'. N.p., 2015. Web. 23 June 2015.

Tracy, Sarah J., Karen K. Myers, and Clifton W. Scott. 'Cracking Jokes And Crafting Selves: Sensemaking And Identity Management Among Human Service Workers'. Communication Monographs 73.3 (2006): 283-308. Web. 23 June 2015.

Small Business - Chron.com,. 'How Can Communication Barriers Affect Organizations?'. N.p., 2015. Web. 23 June 2015.

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