Whether in a work relationship or personal relationship, communication barriers can be a hindrance to the success of a business/career and our happiness with these people and ourselves. So what are the common communication barriers and how can they be overcome?
Failure to listen
It takes two to have a conversation, so while you may feel frustrated that the other person doesn't listen to you and consider it to be all their fault, take the time to ensure that you are fully listening to them - and I don't mean just waiting for your turn to speak! The late Stephen R. Covey called this seeking first to understand before trying to make yourself understood. By this he means take the time to listen to them fully, take on board all of their comments and confirm your understanding of them. When a person feels valued by you they will be happier to listen to you too. And you can ask them to acknowledge their understanding of your points...
Not thinking from their point of view
It is possible to have multiple different perspectives of the same situation and give the same situation varying levels of importance and urgency, depending on your own situation. Think about what is important to the other person right now. How much other pressure is on them, as well as the need for you to communicate with them? If you can understand the potential challenges and pain they are facing at that moment, you can offer your help alleviating it. This may be in the form of a product or service from your company, or just in some of your own time and effort. Once the problem is alleviated, it's another communication barrier removed.
Lack of rapport
In his book "How To Win Friends and Influence People" Dale Carnegie draws on the fact that everyone's most important person is themselves, so talk less about you and more about your common interests with them. Show genuine interest in the things that are important to them. If you find this hard to do you can also use subtle things like similar body language and tone of voice to increase rapport. People like people who are like themselves and it's natural to work on building a rapport with someone with whom you wish to communicate. Have you ever noticed how your accent will srengthen or weaken dependent on whom you are talking? This is you subconsciously building rapport. Make a note to do it consciously too!
Lack of Confidence
If you lack confidence spend some time imagining how a really confident version of you would communicate with this person in this situation. Practice this style of communication and being this confident person in settings where you are more comfortable first. Start in front of the mirror on your own, then work up to talking to friends and family like that, then strangers at the check out in the supermarket, then people at work. Build up through the levels as your confidence builds. A good idea is to review your progress as you go along, marking yourself out of 10 on how confident you felt. As this number gets higher and higher you can move on to other people.
The focus on this article has been barriers to communication when it comes to significant relationships and face to face contact. There are communication barriers in other walks of life too, for instance when sending written communication for business, or dealing with people who being aggressive or confrontational. These will be the focus of a later articles. You may sign up to newletters to be notified when these articles are released. Click here.