How to overcome communication barriers

Jan 24, 2018 | Executive Coaching

Whether in a work relationships or personal relationships, it is common to come up against  communication barriers but the reason that those barriers exist are different to what we might think.

If we misunderstand them, we can communicate ineffectively and that can be a hindrance to the success of a business/career and our personal relationships can be affected too.  In this article I will be addressing a different understanding around these commonly held beliefs and the strategies that people use for dealing with communication barriers.

Failure to listen (at the right time)

It takes two to have a conversation yet many people focus on getting their point across and fail to see that there may be value in what the other person has to say. It’s important to 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 before making your own points.

However, don’t attempt to listen to another person when you are in a low mood.  If you are feeling agitated, but trying to listen, you will not be thinking clearly and the exercise will be fruitless at best.  Wait until your agitated/low mood passes, then you will be able to listen to the other person. This type of listening bring better quality to the conversation.  To be clear, do not try to force your mood to pass, just notice if you are in a good mood or if you feel rushed/stressed.  If the latter just apologise and say that will speak to them a little later when you are thinking more clearly.

It’s also important that, while you give them the time to be heard, you don’t get into the hole with them and agree that things are indeed terrible.  For the communication to be beneficial if you can maintain the understanding that their experience is actually neutral – it just doesn’t appear that way to them – then you won’t reinforce their beliefs that their thoughts and feelings can be attributed to specific events or circumstances.  It looks like they are, but they aren’t.


Communication barriers

Communication barriers between colleagues with ‘jammed up’ thinking

Believing your perspective to be right/true

As alluded to above, it is possible to have multiple different perspectives of the same circumstance and give the same situation varying levels of importance and urgency, depending on what thought is passing through you, or the other person at any given time.  We can never see the reality that another person is experiencing, but we can consider that it might well be different to our own.  If you can imagine the way that they may be seeing things, you can feel more compassion for them as a human being, you may find you get inspiration on the best way to help them. They may have a perceived problem that you can help to remove. Once the problem is alleviated, it’s another communication barrier removed.

It is however important to remember that any problems that you or the other person are perceiving are purely thought energy passing through.  I am sure that you have had times in your life where you are in a situation that you are absolutely fine with, but another person saw it as a real issue.  In that moment you can see that the circumstance isn’t the problem, it’s just thought. Understanding this takes the significance off our own perspective, removing yet another communication barrier.


Unfair communication barrier

Unfair treatment or communication barriers and lack of understanding?

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 suggests you talk less about you and more about your common interests with them.  He recommends that you show genuine interest in the things that are important to them.  The theory is that 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.  

While this may sound like truth, what I would say about this is the following:  When you feel a natural rapport with somebody you may end up noticing similarities between you rather than differences, but it’s not because of the similarities that you have the rapport.  Have you ever experiencing liking someone despite not appearing to have anything in common with them at all?  What really happens when we build a rapport/connect with someone is that we are able to identify that we are the same – because we are all the same. We are all human beings connected energetically. You can feel that connection with someone when your mind is clear and energy is flowing easily from you. (You might have noticed this as times when you feel a deep emotional response for a stranger’s story)  However, in the act of focusing on trying to build a rapport, your mind gets jammed up and that energy flows less easily.

If you don’t feel a natural rapport with someone, all that tells you is that your head is jammed up with thoughts. It will soon start allowing energy to flow again, and the rapport will develop later.  That’s fine.  You don’t need a behavioural strategy to make this happen.  You just need to be aware of where your own state of mind is.

Lack of Confidence

It’s a common belief that a lack of confidence would prevent you from communicating effectively with a person. However, all a feeling of low confidence is telling you is that your mood is currently low.  If you start trying to adopt strategies to feel more confident, you will further jam your thoughts up and feel worse.  Moving in and out of feelings of confidence is totally natural for all human beings.  All you need to know here is that you can communicate with anyone, whether you feel confident or not. The confidence has no significance in your ability to communicate.  And if you don’t feel confident, you can know that a confident feeling will return to you.

The focus on this article has been barriers to communication when it comes to significant relationships and face to face contact.  There can be 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. All of these can be understood differently when we appreciate the different “Inside-Out” understanding of the human experience.  This article has only just scratched the surface of this understanding.  There is plenty more to see.

If you would like to investigate this understanding further and how it can impact upon your business and your life,  you may be interested in 121 training/coaching with me, or my group seminars..  Click here to get in touch and find out how I can help

Want to know more about how I can help? Drop me a line or give me a call. A successful coaching relationship depends upon a great rapport, so it’s important to talk. I want to get to know you, see inside your world and we can assess how we’d go from there!