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Concepts & Problems of Communication

y No two people are EXACTLY alike y No two countries are EXACTLY alike y No two cultures are EXACTLY alike

Result Problems with communication occur when the communicator filters are sharply different.


y y y y y y
i. ii.

Conventions of Meaning Perception of Reality Values, Attitudes & Opinions Cultural Differences Mind as a Unique Filter Communication Barriers
Physical Barriers Psychological Barriers

Conventions of Meaning
y Synonymy y Symbols and their Meaning y Acronyms y Miscommunicated Instruction y Reactions to Denotations, Connotations, and


y Protect and Save y Answer and Reply y Good and well

Do you know the reply to question four? Do you know the answer to question four?


y Arbitrariness

y WMD: Weapons of Mass Destruction y WMD: World Mother s Day

Miscommunicated Instruction
y Bimonthly y Tenement y To table a proposal


y A denotation is usually the dictionary definition of a

word that does not indicate any positive or negative qualities.


A connotation is an implication of a word or a

suggestion separate from the usual definition. House: Mansion, villa, home, cottage, firetrap, shack. Student: Bookworm, nerd, dropout, scholar, researcher. Efficient, gentle, prompt (Positive connotations) Lazy, cowardly, delinquent (Negative connotations) Cheap product and cheap price The term bad in colloquial means its opposite. Speed, grass, coke

A euphemism is a mild or pleasant expression used

instead of an offensive or unpleasant one. Old people: Senior citizens Dead people: Loved ones Mentally abnormal: Special (School for Special Children) Tax collector: Revenue agent Barber: Hairstylist Graveyard: Memorial park Poor countries: Developing countries

Perceptions of Reality
y Unique reality of each individual y Different sensory perceptions

Communication Problems in Perceptions of Reality

y Abstracting: When we select some facts and omit

others, we are abstracting y The economic situation of Pakistan in 2006 was not good, but now it is better.
y y Necessary Desirable Abstracts

Slanted Statements: Biased or prejudiced statements in reporting A reported news reporter would not write: A small crowd of retards came to hear the Governor s plan for 1997 yesterday noon in that rundown hotel that disfigures Hong Kong central. Instead the write-up might state: Between 250 and 350 people heard an address yesterday noon by Governor Patton in the auditorium at the Conrad Hotel at Pacific Palace.

Inferring: Conclusions drawn from evidence or

premises Necessary, Desirable Inferences When we drop a letter in the mailbox, we infer that it will be delivered to our intended reader. When we land at a foreign airport, we assume we will be treated hospitably. When we enter an elevator in our building, we hope it will take us to the desired floor. Risks of Inferences

Values, Attitudes, and Opinions

y A receiver s attitude toward a message can determine

whether it is accepted, rejected, distorted, or avoided.

Communication Problems Involving Values, Attitudes, and Opinions

y Favorable or Unfavorable Information y Inadequate or Incorrect Information y Closed Minds y Sender s Credibility y Other Circumstances Affecting Attitudes,

Opinions, and Responses

Barriers In Communication
y The phenomenon of Communication is concerned

with transfer of message. The message should reach the Decoder in order to gain a proper Feedback. However, since no two people are same, so communication style varies from person to person and in a broad perspective, from an organization to organization, country to country or culture to culture.

y Each person s mind is a unique filter. The problems in Communication occur

y y y y y y y

when the Communicators filters are sharply different. These problems are called Barriers as they hinder the smooth process of communication. There are a wide number of sources of noise or interference that can enter into the communication process which prevent the achievement of the desired result, such as individual: Semantic Barriers Convention of meaning Physical Barriers Psychological Barriers i- Emotional Barriers ii- Perceptual Barriers iii- Barriers involving values, attitudes etc.

y Over-view of Communication Barriers:

In a nutshell, most barriers can be classified into the following classes: y Barriers to reception: 1- Environmental stimuli 2- The receiver s attitudes and values 3- The receiver s needs and expectations y Barriers to understanding: 1- Language and semantic problems 2- The ability of the receiver to listen and receive, especially messages which threatens his or her self concept. 3- The length of the communication 4- Status effects y Barriers to acceptance: 1- Prejudices 2- Interpersonal conflicts between sender and receiver.
y y

y 1. *Semantic Barriers: since one of the principles

of communication is to use the symbols which have same meaning for the sender and receiver. The y way a symbol is perceived in a sender s mind might be different from how it y is perceived by the receiver. In such a situation, communication would fail y and the desired result might not be gained, thus creating a Barrier.

y 3. Physical barriers: communication does not take place through words

alone. Since 55% of communication is perceived or decoded through body language and facial expressions, so barriers might occur by the physical appearance of communicators; the sender or the receiver, or the context of a document and even the presentation of a document. y In a message, the sender s ideas, however well composed they are, might not bring considerable results due to physical barriers. In a written message the barriers might be: jammed or jagged margins, finger-prints or smudges on paper, unclear photocopies, unreadable word-processor printout, stains of water or tea or oil etc. y In a presentation, barriers might occur if the sender or speaker has poor verbal skills, is mumbling, not enunciating or describing in details, speaking too quickly or using accented style. There might be other sources of disruption like noise of hissing ventilations, ringing telephones, slamming doors, Environmental Disturbances like traffic noise, loud sound, passing train etc.

y 4. Psychological Barriers: the world around us is constantly changing and

thus people are becoming more conscious and they have more knowledge, they are more aware and they think more. Therefore, every mind in this world is unique in itself. Every mind has a different mental filter so the perception of reality is different for them. A person not only perceives through their sensory experience, but mental experiences also add to perception. Therefore, every person makes various abstractions, inferences and evaluations of the world. Thinking too much and forming a person s own idea can sometimes lead to barriers to communication. y Emotional Barriers: sometimes barriers occur due to our emotional state. In such situations we normally block our emotional dynamics. In unpleasant situations or when the reaction is unknown to us we prefer to create this barrier. But this might give the wrong notion to the receiver, consequently resulting miscommunication. y Perception of reality: human mind is involved in automatic activity of abstracting and inferring. It s a healthy activity to increase mental capacity but at times it can lead to barrier in communication.

Barriers involving values, attitudes, opinions etc: sometimes barriers may occur in communication due to difference in opinions, values and attitude of communicators. Following are some of the problems which may cause communication barriers: y Cross-cultural differences: different cultures have different norms. A miscommunication can be caused if the communicators are unaware of each other s norms. For instance, Muslim men do not shake hands with women, however, it is considered impolite by Western women if men would not shake hands with them. So, in such a situation where they come across there might be a miscommunication. y Favorable or Unfavorable Information: the sender must always hold a positive attitude by giving the receiver Favorable information from their point of view. If unfavorable information is given to the Receiver this might cause an attitudinal barrier to communication y Pre-conceived notions: People attend to stimuli in the environment in very different ways. We each have shortcuts that we use to organize data. Invariably, these shortcuts introduce some biases into communication. Some of these shortcuts include stereotyping, projection, and self-fulfilling prophecies. Stereotyping is one of the most common. This is when we assume that the other person has certain characteristics based on the group to which they belong without validating that they in fact have these characteristics. In such a case, it becomes extremely difficult to communicate. Sometimes, these notions are developed due to inadequate or incorrect information. This would certainly affect the success of communication. The required feedback would be jeopardized.

Closed Minds: sometimes, receivers are just stubbornly closed minded. They do not want to receive any information at all. They either have rigid views on certain subjects or simply reject other s view because they don t want to communicate. Dealing with such people is difficult but the task can be achieved with the help of a mediator of court of law. Sender s credibility: serious barriers can be caused if the credibility of the sender is doubtful. This might be due to lack of information or previous bad experience. For instance, if a politician has lied in the past, his credibility might cost him election next time. If a sales-person uses deceptive tactics to sell the product, it would cause credibility breach. Thus, in cases where the sender s credibility is doubtful, communication barriers might occur disrupting the process of communication. State of Mind: human beings constantly go in and out of strange experiences. This impacts their state of mind. The experience might be personal or professional causing the state of mind to be inappropriate for a communicative occasion. On such occasions, a barrier might hinder the process of communication. In such cases, a person should either avoid the occasion or try to hide his/her state of mind.

Images missing communication barriers

y y y y y

System design faults refer to problems with the structures or systems in place in an organisation. Examples might include an organisational structure which is unclear and therefore makes it confusing to know who to communicate with. Other examples could be inefficient or inappropriate information systems, a lack of supervision or training, and a lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities which can lead to staff being uncertain about what is expected of them. Attitudinal barriers come about as a result of problems with staff in an organisation. These may be brought about, for example, by such factors as poor management, lack of consultation with employees, personality conflicts which can result in people delaying or refusing to communicate, the personal attitudes of individual employees which may be due to lack of motivation or dissatisfaction at work, brought about by insufficient training to enable them to carry out particular tasks, or just resistance to change due to entrenched attitudes and ideas. OTHER COMMON BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION INCLUDE: Psychological factors such as people's state of mind. We all tend to feel happier and more receptive to information when the sun shines. Equally, if someone has personal problems like worries about their health or marriage, then this will probably affect them. Different languages and cultures represent a national barrier which is particularly important for organisations involved in overseas business. Individual linguistic ability is also important. The use of difficult or inappropriate words in communication can prevent people from understanding the message. Poorly explained or misunderstood messages can also result in confusion. We can all think of situations where we have listened to something explained which we just could not grasp. Physiological barriers may result from individuals' personal discomfort, caused, for example, by ill health, poor eye sight or hearing difficulties. Presentation of information is also important to aid understanding.

y y y y y y y

OBSTACLES AND BARRIERS BEHAVIORS IN GROUP DYNAMICS The following questions can used to self-debrief your behavior in settings where personal communications are used to build relationships -- at work, at home, in a church, with a spouse and about any place where two or more gather. These are the common barriers and you may think of others or variations. It is often helpful to do this evaluation in a group of 5-7 people and exchange your views to enhance learning about yourself. The purpose of this exercise is to discover what you may be doing to shut off communications and find ways to improve your behavior. A second way to use these barriers is to just copy the heading and discuss each within a group. The number one barrier to communications is not listening. Different forms of this are at the end of the list. (jump to listening barriers) EXPECTATIONS: Are your expectations of others or organizations a barrier? Do others know your expectations or do you just think they know them? Can you change your expectations or let go of them to be part of a group or a relationship? How would that feel? Did this in any way feel like giving up your "self" to be what the group wants you to be? This is probably the number one barrier to communications. Expectations are often not expressed to others and it is as if the other is expected to have a crystal ball and know what you expect. RISKING: What is a risk for you? How much do you risk in a communications setting? What keeps you from risking? Is it fear? If so, fear of what? Is it control? Control of what? Yourself or others or the group? Do you wish to risk more? What will it take to risk more? More trust? This is probably the top barriers in communicating authentically. Risk in communication often has this silent question: "If I risk myself and this is all I've got, what will happen if I am rejected?" Building communications with others authentically takes a degree of risk. AVOIDANCE: What behavior do you use to avoid looking at yourself? Think about this hard. What was behind the avoidance? Fear of rejection? Fear of loss of control? Have you been part of an avoidance "project" to shift the subject

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Overcoming barriers to communication: 1. If communication is oral, it must be clear and not heavily accented. 2. Words must be chosen in such a way that miscommunication is avoided. 3. People should be oriented to listen with attention and read with concentration. 4. If instruments are used they should be in proper working condition. 5. The communicator should try to reach the audience by speaking and writing from their point of view. The you attitude must be used on all occasions. Semantic noises must be avoided. 6. All communication should try to persuade and not rush or overwhelm people. Psychological barriers can be effectively overcome through persuasion. 7. Proper arrangement must be made to obtain feedback. The sooner you obtain feedback the sooner will you be able to change your mode and manner of communication and make it more effective.

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8. Make sure you are using the proper channel of communication whether it is through written, verbal or with visual aids. Action to be taken to overcome barriers of effective communication Sender should make note of the following: WHO : To whom should the message go ? WHY : Why am I communicating ? What are my motives? WHAT : Decide what to communicate. Be clear about what you need to communicate. WHEN : Choose the best time for optimum reception. HOW : Use language the receiver will understand and which unambiguous. WHERE : Choose a location which will not interfere with the reception, understanding and acceptance of the message. Keep checking with the receiver. Receiver should take care of the following: Be fully ATTENTIVE to sender Listen ACTIVELY to the messages being sent. ASK for clarifications, reception where necessary. Keep checking with sender. Together Realize that misunderstandings are bound to occur, and be ALERT for all cues to this effect. LISTEN, listen, listen, and listen again. TEST your understanding of the message. Share OPINIONS, feelings and perceptions generated by the message. Conclusion: The world around us constantly bombards us with sights, sounds, scents and other sensory experiences. However, we do not perceive every thing through sensory organs rather we use our mental filters to balance things on

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AVOIDANCE: What behavior do you use to avoid looking at yourself? Think about this hard. What was behind the avoidance? Fear of rejection? Fear of loss of control? Have you been part of an avoidance "project" to shift the subject away from yourself to enter a comfort zone? What does a group do to avoid doing what it needs to do? Did group norms facilitate avoidance? Avoidance frequently is present when a person feels unsafe or is unsure if its safe. Many business meetings start with considerable avoidance and only in the last minutes does the group get to the real subject, and then often try a quick fix. Avoidance can become a habit. Vunerability is a good way to build relationships with others, but it is often scary and avoided. It takes risk to share your self FIXING: Has anyone try to fix you? The group? How did that feel? Did you try to fix, heal or convert anyone or the group? Can you fix anyone other than yourself? How aware are you that this is often done, with good intentions and well-meaning but usually not wanted and unaccepted 90+% of the time? What is your level of acceptance of people just as they are? Fixing is often trying to get the other to believe as you do or to do as you have done in a similar situation or to be more like you so you will feel more comfortable. PROJECTS: Most individuals and groups are creative in making "projects" that have avoidance as its main purpose. A project is doing or saying or organizing to shift the subject of a discussion. An example might be to say, "its too hot in here to think. I need more air conditioning to go on with this discussion." Can you name a project you have done or one your group has done? What do pseudo-projects represent in a group? Sometimes projects are things, sometimes people and often it's something completely outside the group and the room. For example I once had a group talk about a former person that was part of the group but has been dead for 6 year. This was pure avoidance of the work that this group needed to do. Projects can be a way of fooling ourselves and have many of the characteristics of "organizing a group" and represent avoidance. They can be barriers to communications. Projects are sometimes necessary to help build safety and trust in groups. They can take the form of challenging the norms of a group or the written rules.

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SCAPEGOATING: Have you felt scapegoated? What did it feel like? Have you been part of a scapegoating effort on another person? Scapegoating is often form of nasty avoidance or blaming or excluding. It may be an attempt to keep focus off of the person doing the scapegoating! It is seen in most family situations and in the workplace and is usually destructive. PROBING: Do you probe others for information? Have others probed you ? How did that feel? Did it create a barrier for you? If you were probed and did not like it, what kept you from confronting the prober? If you were the prober, why did you probe? Did it have anything to do with keeping the focus off of you? Probing can be avoidance of task or scapegoating if carried too far. SPEAKING IN CODE: If you are part of a subgroup of two or more people, did/do you speak with language that only those in the subgroup can understand? This makes others feel excluded and that you may be talking about them. Can you understand how this is a form of exclusivity? This is often done without realizing it in all kinds of groups. It is not polite and keeps understanding low. CONTROL: Did anyone try to control you or what you said? How did it feel? Were you aware at any time that you were trying to control an outcome? If you tried to control, what was the reason? Was it to control what might happen to you? Did you notice others trying control? Controlling often takes the form of manipulation. Manipulation does not feel good when it is discovered. Most of us believe we have far more control than we actually do. Letting go of control and risking more may result in more love coming into your life. BLAMING: Have anyone blame you for what was or was not happening? How did that feel? Do you blame others or own what is your responsibility? What was your motive for the blaming? Did it have to do with trying to make some other person responsible for your behavior? Did you experience blaming in your family of origin? Blaming can become an almost unconscious habit.

PLACATING: Did you feel placated by anyone? Did you placate anyone? How does it feel to be placated? CONFLICT AVOIDANCE (CHAOS) : Do you run from conflict or avoid it in some way instead of trying to go through it? Do you leave a conversation when it gets too hot for you? (either actual or emotionally) How do you react to change? Another word for conflict/chaos can be change. People find many ways to avoid talking about change as it usually feels uncomfortable because of the unknown. Chaos can also mean conflict and most people will do anything to avoid it. Chaos is one of the most certain things in life and it is well to learn how to embrace it. SILENCE: How comfortable are you with silence? Can you listen to yourself? To your source of spirit? Do you recognize respectful silence? Do you experience a silent time at home? What would it be like if you asked for some silence in your workplace during a meeting? Silence is an unused tool that is very effective in all kinds of ways. "Silence is the primary key to finding what you need to let go of in your life to have a happier life." More than half of Beethoven's music is silence. Without the silence there is no music; there is only noise. Most people have little true silence in their lives, yet it provides considerable peacefulness. EXCLUSION: Did you feel excluded at any time? Did you exclude yourself? Did some person say anything that made you feel excluded? Was your feeling of exclusion accurate? Is this something that often happens to you? Did you exclude any person either by avoiding them, or emotionally tuning them out, or by making a judgmental statement? Did you later change the exclusion to inclusion? Think of how people are often excluded and why. It is often done as an unconscious act that may have been learned in the family or work place.

BOUNDARY OR BARRIER: A boundary is often created for protection and should only be changed with considerable thought. A boundary "rule" is one you have originated that defines what is good or bad for you. A boundary may be a barrier to communication depending on what it is. Are you aware of any boundary you have that is a barrier to meaningful communications? Are you aware of any boundary that you want to change? How will you do that and how will you know if it is safe to change? Boundaries are accumulated during life for protection and become a learned method of existing. Boundaries need to be changed slowly and may be replaced with another boundary that offers more freedom until it becomes safe to "take the next step". Some people have few or almost no boundries and this often gets them into trouble. An example of this is a person that regulary offers far more information that is asked for by people they talk to. This becomes a turnoff to others and may result in other avoiding you.