7 ways to overcome workplace communication barriers

Irena Dragičević
Irena Dragičević
Apr 21, 20226 minute read

Transferring to a hybrid work environment has redefined workplace communication – successfully delivering, receiving, and understanding the message is more important than ever.

Any barrier in this process can cause a misunderstanding of the message and result in a wrong decision or action that further affects the business. The modern workplace demands clear, concise, and fast communication – free of barriers. There is no place for ambiguity, misunderstandings, and confusion.

Communication barriers are one of the most common reasons why messages in communication are misinterpreted. These barriers can be different, and some of them are:

  • Physiological – A person’s physical conditions like tiredness, illness, or even hunger, can negatively affect communication.
  • Semantics (language barriers) – They can lead to different interpretations of the meaning of some words. For example, using jargon, unfamiliar words, and abbreviations. Or even using a different dialect.
  • Physical – These include physical distance, like offices in different locations or hybrid work environments, or surrounding noise that can distract effective communication.
  • Emotional – When employees feel fear or have internal conflict, they are more likely to interpret wrong communication messages.
  • Technological – Limited access and the wrong choice of the communication channel can create mistrust and misunderstanding, resulting in poor communication between employees.

two people discussing by a laptop

How can you overcome communication barriers?

If you want to overcome communication barriers, you first must recognize which barriers have the biggest impact on your workplace communication. In this article, we focused on barriers that any employer could influence and easy solutions to overcome them.

  1. Barrier: Communication channel limitations
    Solution: Find a proper communication channel that suits your needs

The source of communication problems can be the wrong choice of communication channels.

The right communication channel will strengthen communication and suppress distractions. On the other side, the wrong channel can impede communication and lead to poor team and cross-team communication.

But how to choose the right channel? This is the first step to healthy communication, and you need to consider various factors. Choosing the most appropriate channel depends on the audience, the message, and the purpose of communication.

For example: if you have deskless and mobile employees, your communication channel should engage them too. On the other hand, if your messages need immediate attention and a quick response, you’ll definitely not choose email.

  1. Barrier: Communication overwhelm
    Solution: Don’t use one communication tool for all types of communications

Related to the first communication barrier – not every tool is perfect for every message. That is why you should always know where to communicate and about what.

It is important to make a difference between channels that serve you for everyday tasks and everyday communication, channels that serve to share company information and knowledge, and channels for personal communication.

Otherwise, you will create an additional communication problem because you will overload your communication channel. Ultimately, your employees will be overwhelmed with information and miss some essentials. Especially if they are working remotely or in a hybrid work environment.

So, if you want to share knowledge or don’t need immediate feedback, you will use adapted channels that don’t disturb employees with unnecessary notifications. Lorino is designed to help you reduce the overload of existing communication channels.

With this specialized tool, you will keep employees informed about what is happening in the company and share important materials with them. You will have the perfect channel for knowledge sharing and employee acknowledgment without interrupting your employees in the work process.

  1. Barrier: Infrequent communication
    Solution: Keep your employees regularly updated and informed

Just as information overload is not good, nor is a lack of information. Your employees want to be consistently informed and not left in the dark. A lack of relevant information can negatively affect productivity and employee engagement.

Be careful here, we’re talking about relevant information and content that will engage them, connect with others, and give necessary information about their work, tasks, or company. It can prevent gossip, rumors, and other misinformation from spreading. Send personalized information relevant to the right people, at the right time.

  1. Barrier: Different interpretations of the messages
    Solution: Use words everyone can understand

Be as clear as possible when communicating your messages, insights, instructions, and ideas to others.

Use words everyone will easily understand and do not use words that the other peron rarely uses in communication. For example, using technical jargon familiar to developers can be challenging for new employees or colleagues from the financial sector.

As one of the most common communication barriers, language can have severe negative consequences:

  • lower quality of work – a job is done incorrectly because the message is misinterpreted
  • loss of time – employees have to spend time understanding the message and instructions
  • decrease in productivity – things are not done because employees don’t understand the requirements

This is why you should reduce to a minimum or completely eliminate the use of jargon, abbreviations, and too many technical terms in conversations with other employees. Especially when you are not sure if they're familiar with those words.

  1. Barrier: Remote and hybrid work environment limitations
    Solution: Be specific when you’re sending messages, instructions, or insights

As we have already pointed out - today, more than ever, it is essential to successfully deliver, receive, and understand the message.

As many companies decided to switch to remote work or hybrid work environments, you can’t just walk over to the colleague in the other office and explain something, or ask for a minute to explain something while passing by your desk.

So, simplify your speech: be clear, concise, and precise when you communicate. This means you need to avoid vague and complicated instructions or directions to get a good response and proper feedback. Also, do not try to be ambiguous or indirect since the recipient may misinterpret your message.

  1. Barrier: Communication silos
    Solution: Connect your employees and different teams

Silos can harm your business and create obstacles to effective communication. And vice versa, poor communication in the workplace can lead to a “silo” mentality. Bridging silos and creating open lines of communication and collaboration between different teams means a free flow of information and knowledge in the company.

It’s imperative to bridge communications silos by bringing different teams together and communicating a unified vision. When people in the company have the same goal and vision, they are more likely to communicate better.

Give your employees opportunities to interact, work together, and freely share their knowledge, experience, and observations with others.

Connect the Silos Across Your Company

Bridge silos and foster greater cross-team collaboration across the company.

  1. Barrier: Lack of transparency & trust
    Solution: Create a transparent environment where everyone will be included

As one of the most common communication barriers, a lack of transparency and trust can result in information blockages, misdirection, productivity decrease, and a lack of employee engagement and motivation. It is getting hard to communicate if there is a lack of transparency and trust in the company.

If your employees think you are hiding some information from them, they can start to speculate. Since this will surely go in the wrong direction, the imperative is to be open and transparent while communicating with colleagues.

Don’t just do regular updates about what is happening with their tasks and projects. Regularly update them also about what is happening within the company, and be honest about challenges your company is facing and mistakes you have made. People respect honesty, and trust is built through open and honest communications.

Why is it important to overcome communication barriers?

Workplace communication is much more than just a conversation. It helps build strong relationships with employees, generates ideas, overcomes conflicts, and fosters efficiency, especially in the hybrid work environment. It’s a key to productive employees and a successful business.

Effective workplace communication is important for more reasons than you think and can have an impact on:

  • Turnover rate – the better communication, the more satisfied employees
  • Productivity – everyone will understand their role in the process
  • Meeting deadlines – with clearly defined guidelines and resolved doubts, tasks and assignments will be done faster
  • Workplace atmosphere – you will reduce misunderstandings and confusion
  • Avoid conflicts – by avoiding misunderstandings, you will avoid possible conflicts.

Show me how to improve communication with Lorino!

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