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Chapter 1  Lecture:

  Barriers to Effective Communication, continued

4. Long Communication Chain.  The longer the communication chain, the greater the chance for error.  If a message is passed through too many receivers, the message often becomes distorted.  If a person starts a message at one end of a communication chain of ten people, for example, the message that eventually returns is usually liberally altered.

 

Decoding Barriers.  The communication cycle may break down at the receiving end for some of these reasons:

 

1. Lack of  Interest.  If a message reaches a reader who is not interested in the message, the reader may read the message hurriedly or listen to the message carelessly.  Miscommunication may result in both cases.

 

2. Lack of  Knowledge. If a receiver is unable to understand a message filled with technical information, communication will break down.  Unless a computer user knows something about the Windows environment, for example, the user may have difficulty organizing files if given technical instructions. 

 

3. Lack of Communication Skills.  Those who have weak reading and listening skills make ineffective receivers.  On the other hand, those who have a good professional vocabulary and who concentrate on listening, have less trouble hearing and interpreting good communication.   Many people tune out who is talking and mentally rehearse what they are going to say in return.  We’ll see some techniques for improving listening skills in Chapter 2. 

 

4. Emotional Distractions.  If emotions interfere with the creation and transmission of a message, they can also disrupt reception.  If you receive a report from your supervisor regarding proposed changes in work procedures and you do not particularly like your supervisor, you may have trouble even reading the report objectively.  You may read, not objectively, but to find fault.  You may misinterpret words and read negative impressions between the lines.  Consequently, you are likely to misunderstand part or all of the report.

 

5. Physical Distractions.  If a receiver of a communication works in an area with bright lights, glare on computer screens, loud noises,  excessively hot or cold work spaces, or physical ailments, that receiver will probably experience communication breakdowns on a regular basis.

 

 Responding Barriers—The communication cycle may be broken if feedback is unsuccessful.

 

1.   No Provision for Feedback.  Since communication is a two-way process, the sender must search for a means of getting a response from the receiver.  If a team leader does not permit any interruptions nor questions while discussing projects, he may find that team members may not completely understand what they are to do.  Face-to-face oral communication is considered the best type of communication since feedback can be both verbal and nonverbal.  When two communicators are separated, care must be taken to ask for meaningful feedback.

 

2.   Inadequate Feedback.  Delayed or judgmental feedback can interfere with good communication.  If your supervisor gives you instructions in long, compound-complex sentences without giving you a chance to speak, you may pretend to understand the instructions just so you can leave the stress of the conversation.  Because you may have not fully understood the intended instructions, your performance may suffer.