Established, since 1997, leading UK based training provider.
Celebrating 25 years in business! CPD Member - The CPD Certification Service ilm Recognised Provider

The Six Barriers of Successful Communication

The Six Barriers of Successful Communication

The Six Barriers of Successful Communication

To be happy and successful, we need to be able to work well with others.

We must be able to effectively explain our thoughts, feelings, opinions and plans. Equally, we must fully understand how others think and feel.

In other words, to be successful, we must communicate well.

But communicating well is not easy, because there are many barriers to successful communication.

What are those barriers, and how can we overcome them?

  1. Perceptual Barriers
  2. Language Barriers
  3. Emotional Barriers
  4. Cultural Barriers
  5. Personal Barriers
  6. Gender Barriers

Here is how to overcome them...

Perceptual Barriers

Perceptual barriers are based upon the fact that each person perceives and evaluates the world through a set of filters that are unique to each individual.

These perceptual filters are your belief systems and personal standards that you have developed over many years.

They have become so ingrained into your mind that you don't consciously realise that they are subtly colouring every observed fact.

And, as each person's beliefs and standards are unique to them, they perceive a different reality, even when faced with the same set of facts.

The implication is to recognise that there are two "truths":

  1. The objective truth (the facts before they are perceived and evaluated), and
  2. Subjective truth (the facts after they have been perceived and evaluated).

You should not be too dogmatic and assume that your "subjective truth" is the equivalent of the objective facts.

Allow yourself the wiggle room to accept that the other person's perception may be closer to the objective facts, than your version.

Language Barriers

The language barrier has two levels:

  1. The obvious level
  2. The more subtle level.

The obvious language barrier is that there are many world languages, and you may need to speak to a person who does not know your language. That obviously presents a barrier which can be overcome by interpreters and language learning.

The more subtle language barrier is that people who share the same language have a different set of meanings associated to the same word.

Many words and concepts have multiple interpretations.

Concepts like, "ASAP" "Fairness", "Professional attitude" "Appropriate dress".

The language barrier is the fact that, when different people use the same word or phrase, they are picturing something completely different.

The solution to this language barrier is to ask, "When you say, BLANK, what do you mean specifically".

"When you say, "come appropriately dressed", what do you mean specifically?"

Emotional Barriers

Emotional barriers stem from prejudices and stereotyping.

For instance, many people have emotional bias against people of a different skin colour. Others may have emotional bias against people of different age or social class.

If a person with a colour prejudice hears a coloured person speak, then they may not listen to the message with an open mind.

The countermeasure to this is to IGNORE your previous faulty programming and listen only to the content of the message.

Judge the value of the ideas expressed by the speaker, not the speaker's physical identity.

Do not be swayed by any unworthy prejudices or emotional biases you may have against any section of the community whose appearance does not match your own.

Cultural Barriers

Cultural barriers are based upon religious, political and national identities, which differ widely as you travel across the globe.

For example, you will find marked cultural differences between western Europe and the Arab world. What is permissible in Rome may not be tolerated in Riyadh. And what is considered acceptable dress code for a lady in Dudley may be considered forbidden in Dubai.

Thus, we are separated by political, religious and national cultural norms, that divide the human family into competing groups, set apart by invisible cultural barriers.

The solution is to seek those principles that are universal and therefore are common to all people.

That common universal principle, I believe is REASON.

Aristotle defined humans, as the rational animal.

It is reason, logic, that distinguishes mankind from the other apes.

Aristotle called reason, The Common Sense.

So, wherever you go, treat all people reasonably.

Treat others as intelligent beings who will respond well to reason and will respond badly, if treated unreasonably.

Treat all people and all problems according to the principles of reason.

Personal Barriers

Personal barriers are those based upon differences in personal taste.

You would find it easy to make a list of the things you like, and your list may differ widely from the person sitting next to you.

Matters of taste are not matters that can be proved by reason. They are beyond logic. If you like Manchester United and I don't, that difference of opinion is not something we can debate with scientific certainty. You like what you like; and that is that.

Interpersonal variations of taste are common, but they can provide the foundation of barriers between various groups. People tend to hang out with people like themselves. So, you find people who like Manchester United in one place and people who like Manchester City in a different place.

Rather than let differences over taste become a barrier, we should instead rise to a higher level of abstraction to where we find the common ground on which we can agree:

  • For example; Manchester United fans and Manchester City fans, both love football.
  • Fans of modern art (Picasso) and fans of classical art, (Da Vinci) both love art.

Don't let personal barriers be a barrier.

Rise to the higher level and find the common ground with your neighbour.

Look for the things that you can agree on.

Gender Barriers

Gender barriers can become a problem, especially in these days when everyone seems to be either over emphasising "gender gaps" or claiming that the concept of "gender" is itself a myth.

Often the same person will make these two opposing statements, one after the other.

I don't like to generalise about the psychological differences between the genders.

I think it is dangerous to say,

  • "Women are more logical, and men are too emotional" or
  • "Men are more logical, and women are more emotional".

There is no proof that either of the above statements are true.

Instead, look into the eyes of the person you are talking to and think of them as predominantly a "Brain in a box".

The box is the physical body, which is equipped with either male or female appendages (or sometimes both).

Ask yourself, is this person;

  • Honest or dishonest?
  • Hard working or lazy?
  • Sociable or antisocial?
  • Educated or not?
  • Reliable or not?

Ignore their gender, since none of the above attributes are gender specific, and all of them are vital components to a successful relationship.

Strive to be always, honest, hardworking, sociable, educated and reliable.

It matters not one jot whether you are a man or a woman or of an indeterminate gender.

Who cares, anyway? Hardly anyone.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

Blogs by Email

Do you want to receive an email whenever we post a new blog? The blogs contain article 5-10 minutes long - ideal for reading during your coffee break!

Further Reading in Communication - Clear Communication

  • The Importance of Business Communication Skills
    If you want to succeed in business, being a good communicator is essential. Not only do you need to communicate to others what, why and how a goal is to be achieved, you need to listen to feedback received in order to make adaptive changes.
    Read Article >
  • Notes on winning by Arnold Schwarzenegger
    It's about living. Not just existing! Wise words from one of the most successful people in the world.
    Read Article >
  • Better Work Relationships
    Developing your ability to create and maintain excellent relationships will help you enjoy more success in every aspect of your life.
    Read Article >
  • Communication Skills: Clear, Rational and Positive
    Do people always understand what you mean, or do you leave ambiguities in your message? Empower yourself by making your communication clear, rational and positive, in order to engage people and get your ideas across and accepted.
    Read Article >
  • Delivering Effective Customer Service
    Customers are more demanding and less tolerant of poor service than they used to be. Therefore, it is essential that your organisation gives customer service great importance, and that staff are suitably trained in the key customer service skills.
    Read Article >

Looking for Communication Skills Training?

If you're looking to develop your Clear Communication Skills, you may find this Communication Skills Training Course beneficial:

Open Training Course Pricing and Availability

6 August
Online - Teams
£475 +VAT
19 August
London - Central
£475 +VAT
22 August
£475 +VAT
28 August
£475 +VAT
More dates and locations available
Save £50 on this course

Next Open Course Starts in 16 days, Online - Teams, places available Book Now >