Barriers of Communication: Types of Barriers

Barriers to Communication:- Communication barrier is the name given to the causes of loss and distortion of information during the process of communication. Communication barrier are obstacles on the way of transmission of information. These obstruct the effectiveness of communication and can even lead to wrong interpretation of the message or misunderstandings.

The word ‘barrier’ means ‘hurdle’, ‘hindrance’ or ‘obstacle’.

Barriers can arise at any stage while sending, encoding, transmission, decoding or receiving. These are various obstacles that may either entirely prevent communication or filter part out of it or even give incorrect meaning.

A large number of organizational problems are caused by barriers to communication. It becomes essential to find out such barriers so that remedial steps can be taken at the earliest.

Different types of barriers to communication:-

  1. Semantic or language barriers
  2. Emotional or psychological barriers
  3. Physical and mechanical barriers
  4. Personal barriers
  5. Organizational barriers

Barriers of Communication: Types of Barriers to Effective Communication

  1. Semantic or language barriers:-

Semantic barriers occur when the meaning attached to words differ from the intended one in the communication.

Following are the semantic barriers:-

  • Words with different meaning:-

A Particular words may have a variety of meanings. There is a possibility that the receiver may attach different meaning and not the one intended by the sender.

Wrong choice of words results in wrong interpretation of message.

  • Badly expressed message:-

Lock of clarity and precision in a message makes it badly expressed. Poorly chosen and empty words and phrases, careless omissions, inadequate vocabulary, bad organization of ideas, faulty sentence structures etc. cause failure to clarify implications.

  • Wrong\unqualified assumption:-

Sometimes the sender is not clear about his goal and entertimes wrong assumptions. Through a massage appears to be specific, sometimes its underlying assumption may not be clear to the receiver. This servers as a barrier to communication.

  • Faulty translation:-

Instructions or communication received from superiors, peers and subordinates must be translated properly for subordinates, peers and superior into language suitable to each.

  • Specialists’ language:-

Technical personnel and special group of people generally develop their own specialized technical language. This hinders their communication with persons not in their specialty.


  1. Emotional or psychological barriers:-

The emotional and psychological state also guides and dictates communication. Emotional and psychological factors are the major barriers in interpersonal communication. Extreme emotions and selective perception are likely to hinder effective communication.

Some of the emotional and psychological barriers are:-

  • Difference in perception:-

Perception is individuals to mentally filter out and distort information communicated. Given the same situation different people may interpret things differently and react different educational backgrounds, different job experiences, beliefs and vale system etc. Receivers may international message depending upon their needs, motivations background and other personal characteristics.

  • Negative Attitude:-

Negative Attitude also becomes a barrier to communication. If the message is consistent with the receiver’s attitude and opinion, it is received favorably. When the message is inconsistent with the receiver’s attitude and opinion, the message may be either rejected or not received favorably.

  • Hasty Evaluation:-

Most people are too much involved in their own problems and pampering their own egos. Hasty evaluation is a major problem. Some people form a judgment even before receiving the complete message. Such premature evaluation blocks effective communication.

  • Emotional Reactions:-

Emotional like fear, anger, worry, depression and nervousness blur the thinking power. The emotional status of communicator as well as the audience affects communication. Listening and interpretation or encoding and decoding or even organization of messages depends on the emotional state transmitter and receiver at the moment.

  • Inattention:-

Inattention arises due to mental preoccupations or distractions. These as barriers to communication.

  • Distrust:-

When the receiver is biased or hostile towards the sender, the message is either ignored or misinterpreted.

  • Poor retention:-

When communication passes through various levels in the organization, it is possible that part of the message may be lost at every stage. This is because of poor retention on the part of the receiver. Thus incomplete message is conveyed or the original message is lost.

  • Status Relationship:-

Difference in status and power also affect willingness of the individuals to communicate and the nature of information communicated.

  • Cultural Differences:-

The norms of social interaction may very greatly in different cultures. Religious beliefs are also an integral part of culture. Directness and straight talk can be seen as rude by people from different cultures.


  1. Physical and mechanical barriers:-

These are mostly created because of the distractions in the physical scenario of communication like distance, instant visitor, cell phones, noise etc.

Some major physical barriers in the way of communication include:-

  • Noise:-

Any noise in the way of communication might spoil communication. Distractions like loud music or traffic noise in the background, another conversation going on nearing distance, a plane passing overhead etc. Can affect the messages.

  • Distance:-

Geographic distances between the senders and receivers can also hinder effective communication. It is easier over shorter distances and requires less technology.

  • Poor or outdated equipment:-

Poor or outdate equipment’s reflect lack of new technology. This may also cause problems in communication. Hearing, listening, sending or receiving the message can adversely affect.

  • Nature of environment:-

A very high or very low temperature, humidity, poor ventilation, a strong glare – all affect people’s concentration and thus interferes with effective communication.

  • Staff shortage:-

Shortage of staff may also cause communication difficulties in an organization. This may cause an individual’s discomfort leading to work overload and results in errors or delay in processing information.


  1. Personal barriers:-

There are some barriers which are directly connected to the sender and receiver. These are called the personal barriers.

These are:-

  • Attitude of superiors:-

 If the attitude of the superior towards communication is unfavorable, it becomes barrier to communication.

  • Lack of time:-

Due to lack of time, sometimes superiors do not pay much attention to communication and it becomes a barrier in communication.

  • Lack of proper incentive:-

If the superior ignores the subordinates or avoids giving any incentive to the deserving subordinates, they become indifferent towards exchange of ideas in future.

  • Fear of position:-

Sometimes, officers with a desire to occupy higher position in the organization, conceal their weaknesses or mistake and do not communicate their ideas.

  • Ignoring communication:-

Sometimes superiors consciously and deliberately ignore the communication from their subordinates to maintain their important. This works against the willingness of subordinates to communicate.

  • Unwillingness of subordinates:-

Sometimes the subordinates also restrict the communication flow specially in upwards direction. They are unwilling to communicate because:

  • They don’t want to show their mistakes.
  • They suppress information related to their failures.
  • They resist changing.


  • Lack of confidence:-

Some employees having less confidence and ability are not able to put up new ideas or suggest their superiors.


  1. Organizational barriers:-

Communication in an organization serves to establish managerial control, provide workers with job instructions and enable managers gather information for planning.

Some major organization hindrances in the way of communication are:

  • Lack of organizational policy:-

A well define communication policy promotes the climate of effective communication. If the policy is not supportive of a climate of free exchange of ideas and information in all directions downward, upward and horizontal; the communication flow would not be smooth and adequate.

  • Complexity in organizational structure:-

Greater the hierarchy in an organization I.e. more the number of managerial level, more are the chances of communication getting destroyed. Only the people at the top level can see the overall picture while the people at low level just have knowledge about their area and a little knowledge about other areas.

  • Organizational rules and regulation:-

Organizational rules become barriers in communication by determining the subject matter and formal channels and medium etc. of communication. Troubled by the formal rules, the sender may not send some of the messages.

  • Organizational facilities:-

Organizational facilities means making available sufficient stationary, telephone, networking and also providing flow of communication through meetings,  conferences and cultural gatherings etc. Provision of such facilities helps communication timely, clear and in accordance with the necessity. Their absence creates a barrier to communication.

  • Excessive work:-

If the employees are overburdened with excessive work then they have no time to interact freely. It serves as a barrier to communication.