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Barriers to effective communication / noise

Barriers.pngBarriers to effective communication will reduce productivity within the firm and, if serious, may cause diseconomies of scale in a firm. Barriers to communication are often referred to as 'noise'. Noise is anything that gets in the way of effective communication and 'blocks' or distorts the message.

This may be physical noise e.g. a lawnmower outside of the classroom window. However it can be many other factors. Attitudes and beliefs, bigotry and experience will affect the perception of a message. If you believe your boss is always out to 'put you down', and she suggests extra training, this may be perceived as a punishment or threat, even if it is intended simply to make you more effective.

Other factors creating 'Noise' may include:

  • Distance, different time zones
  • Language or jargon that is not understood by the recipient
  • The corporate culture may not promote the sharing of communication
  • Information overload - receivers cannot cope with the volume
  • Time e.g. different time zones
  • Sexism and racism
  • Stress
  • Poor resources e.g. limited access to technology
  • Preconceptions
  • Past experience
  • Lack of education and training
  • Poor selection of medium of communication

Communication difficulties for large organisations

Large organisations are complex and require sophisticated methods and systems for communication if they are to avoid possible problems. This is a good time just to re-visit some of our earlier work together. Let's think how large organisations try to avoid ineffective communications.

They might:

  • Use a matrix system of management, which is felt to help breakdown some of the conventional barriers that exist within an organisation and reduce communication flows
  • Design flatter hierarchies, so reducing the distances between the giver and receiver of information.
  • They might encourage de-layering and so remove some of the layers through which communication has to pass.
  • They might use management by objectives, so encouraging more communication between those directly involved in getting the task done