THE BARRIERS TO COMMUNICATION
In today’s competitive business environment, the success of an organization may rest greatly on effective organizational communication. But as all communication is complex, there is a lot of room for conflict and misunderstanding. Moreover, an organization’s unique set of values, culture and issues add to the multidimensional nature of the communication process. If communication in the organization is not as effective, the company may lose money and resources due to wasted time, unmet deadlines, wrong hiring decisions, and ineffective leadership, to name a few.
With the complexity of the communication process and dynamics in an entity, it is important to know the organizational communication structure, the system of pathways through which messages flow. There are two types of structure: formal, which utilizes specific authorized channels for exchange of information between positions; and informal, most commonly known as the “grapevine”, where channels are not specifically used for organizational information. The categories falling under the formal communication structure are downward communication, upward communication, and lateral or horizontal communication. Organizational communication also encompasses both internal and external communication.
Because the communication process is very complex with many factors affecting it, there may be several barriers that prevent the message from reaching the receiver. These barriers may fall under any of the following categories—Encoding Barriers, Transmitting Barriers, Decoding Barriers, and Responding Barriers— and may vary from a personal level to an external environment. These barriers also encompass both the sender and the receiver, as well as other inherent and external factors that may directly or indirectly affect the communication process. To have an effective organizational communication, it is important to know these barriers and how to overcome them.
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