Barriers to Effective Communication in the Workplace

The workplace is often described by many as stressful, busy, productive and possibly a distraction for some. Without effective communication, much is misunderstood and managers will often find themselves making poor decisions because something was not communicated. Businesses exist for one main purpose and that’s to generate a profit. Why then would any business risk their existence and their reputation because of the inability to effectively communicate.

In the workplace there exist barriers that hinder effective communication, managers and employees alike must recognize these barriers and take proper action to remedy the situation to allow for productive communication. Why is this important? Nothing is more embarrassing than to make a business decision based on something you though you heard or understood.


When managers meet in the board room or the cubical, they share information needed to make business decisions. Managers should consider meeting in a place where distractions are kept at a minimum. While in the board room, cellphones are a definite distraction, especially when custom ringtones are heard that sidetrack the meeting at the precise moment vital information is given. When managers make a business decision based on something they thought they heard and there was no reason to clarify, results can be disastrous. Distractions can come in many forms. Holding a meeting in a place where there is noise and those in the meeting are struggling to hear what you have to say, is a recipe for disaster.


While some workers thrive on it, other may find it difficult to cope with the stress encountered in the workplace. When businesses are prosperous or in distress, managers and workers tend to make hasty decisions or they make decisions without having all the facts. Being able to prioritize events and the importance of things (as they happen) will help you in managing your stress.


This is a big one, a single person could effectively hamper the communication process with their attitude. This attitude can be from a manager or a worker. When attitudes are apart of the equation, emotions will rain in the course of the process. No body wants to be wrong, everybody wants to point fingers and everybody wants to be right. Management has to take a hard stand on setting the tone for the communication process and each person has the professional responsibility to do the same.


Tone, inflection and common phrases mean different things to different people, especially when they speak another language. For those english speaking managers and workers, you must realize this. This is a fact of the diverse workplace. It’s shortsighted to display your displeasure with a coworker with a sharp accent. Diversity is not going away, ever, in the workplace.

Lastly, the organization and its internal structure is often a barrier to effective communication. The communication process or the flow of information between managers and upper management is often frustrated when workers are bound to following organizational charts. When managers and supervisors can get quick and responsive feedback from upper management to make smart business decisions I believe the importance of effective communication within the workplace is realized.