How to Identify Barriers to Communication

Effective communication happens when the people involved in the communication exchange understand the message the way it is intended to be heard. When the sender and the receiver of the message are on the same page, the information comes across clearly. However, several different factors can affect communication, and cause barriers leading to confusion or a lack of understanding.

Identify Barriers to Effective Communication

The barriers to communication are categorized in several different ways. Some common ones include:

  • language barriers
  • psychological barriers
  • physiological barriers
  • physical barriers
  • systematic barriers
  • attitudinal barriers

When trying to improve interpersonal communication, it’s important to understand how and why the communication is being affected. Clarity helps both the sender and the receiver to figure out how they can both improve their communication skills.

Understand Interpersonal Communication Examples

Communication with others is important in all aspects of life: at home, in business and at school. The stakes of communicating effectively are high in certain work environments, such as health care. It’s important to identify the barriers to communication in care so that the health professionals can safely look after their patients. In some cases, it can be a matter of life and death.

Properly monitoring someone’s health requires the health professional to ask the patient many questions regarding their condition. In this example, the sender and the receiver may experience physical barriers, such as too much background noise at the hospital, and physiological barriers, such as the receiver’s health. Physiological barriers can be particularly hard to overcome in a health care setting. This communication barrier’s definition is that the receiver’s physical condition affects how well they can understand the message that has been sent. In this case, the receiver may have poor hearing or may be too physically distressed to understand the questions.

Simple solutions, such as using a family member as a conduit for communication, are potentially problematic due to patient confidentiality issues. To solve this issue, the health care professional may have to communicate using a variety of techniques. Using simple, easy-to-understand language, moving to a quiet room free of background noise, using visual prompts, smartphone translation technology and even recording the consultations for the patient to watch within a secure, HIPAA-compliant portal, can all reduce the barriers to communication and improve patient recall.