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Factors Affecting Communication

Communication is the process of interchanging information, ideas or signs

between people. The process although very simple is very multi-dimensional.
Due to its multi-dimensional aspect there are a wide range of factors which have
the ability to affect this process. These factors can affect the process both
positively and negatively. Out of the multitude of factors which may affect
communication some of the important ones which we think are the major factors
are listed below:

There are several environmental factors which affect the communication. Some
of the environmental factors are Noise, time, physical distance, space, climate
and place.

Noise distorts message and acts as a barrier to effective communication

because it makes it difficult for people to talk with one another. If there is too
much noise it can irritate people and they may not be able to hear each other. A
person might need to shout to be heard.

Time has an important role in communication. Time lag and amount of time for
a message to travel across the world is the major barrier in communication. The
communication should be faster and a message should take less time to travel
across the world.
important environmental factor of communication is physical
distance. Physical distance between the two people will affect the way that

they are able to communicate with one another. If two people are far apart then
mistrust may occur and one might not understand what other person is trying to
say. So there should be a minimum distance between two people to carry out
effective communication.

Space plays an important role in oral communication. There are different

conditions in which the way of communication is different. If someone is
communicating with his friend then there will be a minimum (1-2 feet) space
between them but if there is a public communication then the space should be
(10 feet minimum) between the speaker and listener.
The place or location where the communication process takes place is also
important factor. Poor lighting, inconvenient space, inadequacy of space are all
factors that make people irritable and annoyed and thus affect the effective
communication. Suitably lighted and ventilated places promote effective

Climate is also an important factor of communication. Warm weather or cold

weather can cause effects on people's perceptions and their abilities to make
decisions. Different climates affect people's views in different ways and can be a
barrier to communication caused by environment.

Cultural Differences
One of the important factor influencing communication is the difference in
culture. The ideas, customs and social behavior of a particular people or
society is known as culture. People in different areas have different cultures.
Cultural differences, both within or outside the organization can affect the
communication process.
People with different cultures use different
ways of communication. As it is quite clear
from the picture that cultural differences also
effects the communication. People in different
areas have different cultures. They have
different languages. For example English
people cant understand Urdu. Similarly people
from different areas cannot understand
different languages which affects the communication.

Lack of Feedback
Feedback is the response or the reaction to what the person
communicates to the other person. The basic way to know if the receiver has got
the message what the person is communicating is by feedback. Feedback
enables the confirmation of understanding between the two persons or groups
etc. The Lack of feedback hinders this confirmation, or the sender can
misinterpret what the feedback is. For example if a Professor is giving a seminar
on some topic and after ending the seminar there is a silence, no questions
asked etc. might send the wrong message to the Professor that the students
have not understood what he said. This Lack of Feedback causes
miscommunication, misinterpretation between the sender and receiver. Lack of
Feedback can easily be averted by giving the proper Feedback which is in
context to the Sender. Not like, if someone asks you for a glass of water and you
go away in silence, he wont know if you are went to get water for him or went
somewhere else.

Use of Language
Use of language is an important factor in communication, how one uses
the language, how he structures the sentences, use of grammar are essential in
misinterpretation of the message which hinders the communication.
For example read these two sentences and see how a difference of comma
can change the structure of the sentence and hence the meaning of it.
I just ate grandma!
I just ate, grandma!
The first sentence is implying that I just ate my grandma, while the second
one is that I just ate, whatever his grandma was telling him to eat. Moreover if a
person uses his language in a very informal way, it will send a negative vibe to
the receiver about the personality of the sender. So how one uses the language
is important factor in communication.

Do you remember the first time you any of your best friend? What was
your initial thought about them? Did you think they looked scary, funny, smart,
stupid or intimidating? Initial thoughts that ran through your mind were your
perceptions of that person. Perception is basically the processing, interpreting,
selecting and organizing the information. Perception greatly influence the
communication process, its all about how the same message can be interpreted
differently by different people.


Consider there is a glass filed half with water is placed on the table, one
says that the glass is half empty while the other says that it is half filled
with water. Although both of them are right, but their perception is
Maybe you thought that your future best friend would be a shy person just
because of his looks. Your perception was based on the fact that he
dressed conservatively wore geeky glasses. In the end it may turn that u
were wrong, he may turn out to be an extrovert.

Our perception are based on the fact that we filter out certain information,
align it with our thoughts and then perceive something. Sometimes what we see
is not the truth.

Factors Affecting Perception

Some of the factors that may affect perception include:

Past experiences.
Cultural Background.

Emotions and Taboos

Emotions are feelings that arises due to a persons mood, circumstances
or relationship with others. Emotions are one of the key factors that determine
how we communicate with others.


Fear: If we look at our society we may find a lot of people that find it hard
to communicate with their elders especially their parents, even if their
parents are doing something wrong they cant stop them. Whats the
reason? They are scared of them. There is a pretty large communication
gap between childrens and parents, the reason is childrens fear their
parent and cant communicate openly with them.
Self Esteem: a patient who have low self-esteem, might be shy or not feel
good about the way in which they look, this would make them not
communicate all their health problems to their doctor and lead to them
not getting the best treatment that they are in need of. A patient with a

high self-esteem would however, be much more confident, this would

mean that they will be able to communicate all their health problems to
the doctor and receive the right treatment that they are in need of.

Taboos are those things that are banned in society. Taboos are established
because people believe that such inappropriateness will bring harmful
consequences to them because this non-verbal or verbal behavior violates the
moral code of the society.


To many Chinese people, a fan is a forbidden present because it has the

identical sound as the Chinese word for "separation." If a person gives a
fan to his or her friend, their friendship will stop or diminish from that time.
Therefore, it has become a taboo to give friends a fan in Chinese society.
Westerners wear black for a funeral and white for a wedding. But in the
ancient Chinese weddings, a white dress was not allowed to be worn
because white was for a funeral. Therefore, all individuals involved had to
wear black formal dress.

The status one has in society and the role one fulfills in an organization
can greatly affect the effectiveness of communication. A difference in roles
within an organization leads to certain barrier between employees of the
organization both physically and psychosocially, physically those having more
important roles like Programs Head, Marketing Manager, etc. will have separate
offices as compared to those who work under them in the organizational
structure or hierarchy while psychosocially the ones who work under them will
always feel afraid or hesitant in communicating with their employer as there is
mental thought in the back of their minds that the employer possess power
them, this may induce ineffective communication within the organization. For
example, there is a new employee who has just been assigned to the marketing
team, the team has prepared an advertisement for the project prior to him
signing on, the new employee finds the advertisement as under par in terms of
ingenuity, instead of raising his opinion in the finalizing meeting in front of the
Marketing Manager he chooses to stay quite as he is relatively new and does not
want to leave a bad impression on his employer. So a difference in role lead to
ineffective communication.
Status in society is like role in an organization. Having a higher social
status makes people envious of you. People perceive you as above others and
treat you differently which although being wrong is basis of the social class
structure. This difference in status makes communication between a poor person
and a wealthy person difficult. As an example let us consider a poor 17 year old
teenager in the street who sees a well off man stepping out of his car, he finds
the man very nicely dressed, innately he wants to tell that man that he looks
good but in his mind he has this social class barrier due to which he will not do

so. Occupying similar roles and being on the same

communication as the people would feel comfortable
and would be more likely to open up and talk without
hesitating or being afraid. Status and role in the
context at hand can be considered synonymous.

Jargon is "the technical terminology or
characteristic idiom of a special activity or group" or in
rather understandable words it is a type of language
that is used in a particular context and may not be well
understood outside of it. So a jargon is limited to a
group of people and people who do not belong that
group cannot understand what the word or phrase
means or implies, as a result jargons lead to ineffective
communication e.g. A person who has never done online gaming is talking to a
professional online e-gamer. The gamer tells the person that he annihilated his
opponent in his previous match and he calls the opponent a noob which in
online gaming terminology is a jargon for a person who is new to a game but
the person will not understand what or who a noob is. On the other hand
jargons can promote effective communication e.g. A person on a train heard a
man saying gg on the phone which in online gaming is a jargon for good
game, the person himself is also an online gamer and he then approaches the
man and starts a conversation, the jargon in this particular case served as a kind
of conversation starter and lead to effective communication.
These are some of the more important factors which influence
communication, other factors include:

Length of communication
Halo Effect