Course Content
BA Arabic
About Lesson

Unit 4
Barriers to and Guidelines for Effective Communication

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the unit, the learner will be able to:

  • identify the different barriers to effective communication
  • get insights into techniques of effective communication
  • identify the essential tools, methods and terms to achieve efficiency in communication


You come across a lot of hindrances to communication, don’t you? There are a lot of external factors that become obstacles to communication. By identifying the different barriers of communication and practising to remove them will help to boost the effectiveness of communication. Also, the exposure to different guidelines and rules that enhance the communication skills are necessary to boost the one’s confidence in speaking English effectively.

Key words

Barriers, Guidelines, Steps, Communication, Tips, Effectiveness.


Has someone ever misunderstood something you said? Misunderstanding or Misinterpreting our words or sentences is not a good experience, is it? But in communication, it can happen anytime. Effective communication takes place only when the message is conveyed from the sender to the receiver without any loss or change in meaning. Why does communication become ineffective? There are many causes for it. Let us look at the barriers to communication in detail. It would help you in polishing your communication skills.

When we talk about barriers to communication, it is easy to divide it as groups. Barriers to effective communication can be:

  • Physical
  • Physiological
  • Psychological
  • Linguistic/ Semantic
  • Perceptual
  • Cultural
  • Organisational
  • Gender
  • Emotional
  • Mechanical/ Technological

Let us look at each of these in detail.

1. Physical Barriers: Those factors in the surroundings that act as obstacles to effective communication are called ‘physical barriers’. Imagine talking on the phone while standing on the plat-form of a busy railway station. You will come across a lot of hindrances to com-munication, don’t you? There are a lot of external factors that become obstacles to communication. Some of them are listed below.

  • The use of defective equipment in the transmission of message can lead to disruptions which can affect the quality of communication.
  • The presence of noise can also interfere with the production, transmission and reception of a message.
  • When communication happens across closed doors and rooms, the quality of message may be compromised.
  • Distance between the sender and receiver can also be a barrier to the effective communication of a message.

2. Physiological Barriers: refer to biological conditions like dyslexia that affect communication. It can be a barrier to effective communication as it poses difficulty in the composition as well as effective reception of messages. For instance, a dyslexic person may suffer from attention deficit/hyperactivity dis-orders and/or learning disability which can hamper the quality of communica-tion. Nerve disorders can also pose a similar situation.

3. Psychological Barriers: are those internal factors that can interfere with communication. It depends on the mental states of the sender or receiver. Some of the psychological barriers to com-munication are:

  • A prejudice against the person or message
  • Lack of trust in the person or message
  • Lack of attention
  • Poor retention capacity

4. Linguistic/Semantic Barriers: refer to obstacles to communication that oc-cur from the defective use of language. Language is the most important tool for communication. There are many elements in which the incorrect use of them can cause obstacles to effective communication. Let us look at a few:

  • Poor quality of message, lack of clarity.
  • Language variations or dialects. Dialects can differ in vocabulary, grammar and accent. Words that are present in one variation of a language may not be there in another.
  • Jargon or use of words which are understood only by a particular group of persons. For instance, a common man may not understand if a doctor speaks about ‘myocardial infarction’ as it is known as ‘heart attack’ in general terms.
  • Different meanings of the same word
  • Wrong translation

5. Perceptual Barriers: are those obstacles that arise in communication as a result of different perceptions of the sender and the receiver. Education, oc-cupation, age, etc. can be perceptual barriers. For instance, there is a notion in the society that people with formal educational qualification are more in-telligent than others. When people communicate, these considerations would create a prejudice in their minds which can affect the quality of communication.

6. Cultural Barriers: refer to those cultural differences which can pose obstacles to communication. The sender and receiver may belong to different cultures and respond accordingly. What are some of the obstacles that can crop up?

  • Lack of awareness of the other culture can create hindrances to communication. What is polite in one culture may not be so in an-other.
  • Stereotypes in the mind of send-er/receiver about the other culture can also become a barrier to com-munication. There are plenty of cultural stereotypes that exist in our society. They can prompt the sender/receiver to act accordingly, rather than focus on the real time experience.
  • Lack of common experience can also be an obstacle to effective communication between two or more persons belonging to different cultures. Though they have a common language to communicate, the content too needs to be mutually understood.

7. Organisational Barriers: are those barriers to communication that can oc-cur due to being a part of an organisa-tion/institution, some of which are:

  • Policy, Rules and Restrictions in the institution
  • Status and Hierarchy among the persons in the institution which restrict communication
  • Complexity in Structure which can create elaborate procedures which hinder communication
  • Lack of facilities in the institution

8. Gender Barriers: are those obstacles to communication that can arise due to the gender differences of the sender and the receiver(s). You might have heard that men and women communicate using different styles. Masculine com-munication is often described as direct, while feminine style gives importance to emotions. The way the two genders look at a topic/ event may also be different.

9. Emotional Barriers: refer to the hindrances to communication that arise due to emotions. You might have had experiences where you found it hard to put your thoughts into words. When you have uncontrolled emotions like fear, sorrow or even happiness, it can affect effective communication. Let us look at some of the emotional barriers to communication.

  • Stress
  • Attitude
  • Lack of Confidence

10. Mechanical/Technological Barriers: are those obstacles to communication which result from problems in equipment used. What are some of the causes that can result in problems with instruments? Let us see.

  • Poor arrangements like outdated machines and equipment
  • Bad office layout like bad lighting
  • Wrong medium
  • High cost of technology

You have now learnt what the barriers to effective communication are. Let us move on to some tips that will guide you for effective communication.

Guidelines for Effective Communication

  • Listening is a very important part of communication. It helps in understanding what the speaker is trying to convey and respond accordingly. Be an active/reflective listener. Active/reflective listening refers to engaging with the speaker by giving affirmative replies, asking follow up.
  • Questions show mirroring of gestures as encouragement. It helps to show that you are paying attention to the speaker.
  • Rely on nonverbal communication. It is not just words that communicate. Paying attention to facial expressions and body language is very important. You make an impression on your listeners with positive body language. You can also understand more by observing the nonverbal cues when someone else is speaking. Maintaining eye contact, limiting hand gestures, and having a good posture are some of the examples of a positive body language.
  • Regularly practice public speaking. It might seem nightmarish to some of you, but it is one of the best methods to improve your skills in communication. When you try to speak in front of a group, your confidence level in-creases. You will also get feed-back according to which you can shape your skills. Whenever you get a chance at public speaking, grab it! Do not let fear conquer you.

Be clear and simple.
Be respectful and polite.

  • Manage your emotions and express them only at the appropriate time. Watch your tone. Exhibiting strong emotions can hinder good communication. Imagine talking when you are very angry or sad. In those moments, you cannot put across what you intend to do in the best way.
  • Demand honest feedback. Listen to the advice of your friends and shape your skills accordingly. Be open to suggestions.
  • Develop a filter. There are things that are to be avoided while communicating with others, especially in a formal scenario. For instance, keep away your prejudices and do not let them affect your communication.

Thus, the key words for maintaining effective communication can be summarized as:

  • Listen
  • Nonverbal
  • Public Speaking
  • Emotions
  • Clear
  • Simple
  • Polite
  • Feedback
  • Filter


  • Accent – the way in which people in a particular area, country, or social group pronounce words
  • Affirmative – relating to a statement that shows agreement
  • Barrier – obstacle
  • Dialect – a form of a language that people speak in a particular part of a country, containing some different words, grammar, etc.
  • Dyslexia – a condition affecting the brain that makes it difficult for someone to read and write
  • Equipment – the set of necessary tools, clothing, etc. for a particular purpose
  • Gesture – a movement of the hands, head, etc. to express an idea or feeling
  • Hierarchy – a system in which people or things are arranged ac-cording to their importance
  • Jargon – special words and phrases that are used by particular groups of people, especially concerned with their work
  • Linguistic – connected with language or the study of language
  • Perception – a belief or opinion, often held by many people and based on how things see
  • Physiology – a branch of biology that deals with the functions and activities of life or of living matter, (such as organs, tissues, or cells) and of the physical and chemical phenomena involved
  • Policy – a set of ideas or a plan for action followed by a business, a government, a political party, or a group of people
  • Prejudice – an unfair and unreasonable opinion or feeling, especially when formed without enough thought or knowledge
  • Psychological – relating to the human mind and feelings
  • Semantic – connected with the meanings of words
  • Stereotype – a set idea that people have about what someone or something is like, especially an idea that is wrong


  • There are many reasons for communication to become ineffective
  • The barriers to effective communication include many elements which are physical, physiological, psychological, linguistic/ semantic, perceptual, cultural, organisational, gender, emotional and mechanical/ technological
  • The tips for effective communication include listening, employing nonverbal communication methods, practising public speaking, managing emotions, asking for honest feedback and developing a filter

Objective Questions

  1. What kind of a barrier is the use of jargon?
  2. What kind of communication is body language?
  3. What is the action of avoiding certain things in formal communication known as?
  4. What are the variations in a language known as?
  5. What are the obstacles to communication that occur from the defective use of language known as?
  6. Write an emotional barrier to communication
  7. Under which communication barrier does the poor arrangement like outdated machines and equipments come?
  8. Under which communication category does the example of good posture come?
  9. Under which communication barrier does policy, rules and restrictions in the institution fall?
  10. What is the name of the barrier in which the mind of the sender/receiver about the other culture affects communication?


  1. Linguistic/Semantic
  2. Non-verbal
  3. Filter
  4. Dialects
  5. Linguistic Barriers
  6. Stress
  7. Mechanical Barrier
  8. Non-verbal Communication
  9. Organisational Barrier
  10. Cultural Barrier


  1. Explain with examples the physical barriers to communication.
  2. What is a stereotype?
  3. What is a psychological barrier to communication?
  4. What is active listening?
  5. Discuss with your friends and list the common barriers they face in communication. Suggest remedies.
  6. Prepare conversations as examples for any three types of barriers explained in this unit.
  7. Examine the different methods for effective communication.
  8. Find out and elaborate on the new mediums of communication that reduce the communicative barriers and enhance effectiveness

Suggested Reading

  1. Hogan, Kevin and Ron Stubbs. Can’t Get Through: Eight Barriers to Communication, Pelican Publishing: New Orleans, 2003.
  2. Tuhovsky, Ian. The Science of Effective Communication: Improve Your Social Skills and Small Talk, Develop Charisma and Learn How to Talk to Anyone. Createspace: California, 2017.
  3. Pease, Barbara and Allan Pease. The Definitive Book of Body Language, Manjul Publishing House: Noida, 2004.