Business Management & Leadership Resources

Four Barriers to Effective Communication

By Timothy I. Thomas
Why does communication so often go wrong? This article discusses the top four reasons for breakdowns in communication.

Tim Thomas

Timothy I. Thomas is the President and CEO of Makarios Consulting, LLC, a leadership development and business consulting firm. Makarios Consulting specializes in interactive training and one-on-one coaching in progressive organizations in order to equip and empower their leaders to maximize their own leadership skills and inspire others to accomplish extraordinary business results. Timothy Thomas is the author of Creating All-Star Performers: The Power of Effective Feedback, now available for immediate download.

1. Poor Listening Skills

Poor listening skills top the list when it comes to barriers to communication. Poor listening skills can result from:

  • Lack of involvement with the other person or the topic at hand: you just don’t care enough to listen.
  • Distractions in the environment such as excessive noise or activity.
  • Disagreement with the speaker, resulting in mentally “shutting off” the other person.
  • Passive listening rather than active involvement with the speaker.

2. Assumptions

There are many assumptions we make while communicating with others. For instance, you might think that you know what the other person is going to say, so you simply “leave” the conversation.

3. Non-Verbal Signals

What we don’t say is as important as what we do say in any conversation. That’s because your entire body is involved in communication, including your body language, facial expressions, sighs, rolling the eyes, crossed arms, tonality, etc. And here is a key point to remember when considering barriers to communication: when there is a conflict between the verbal message and the non-verbal message, we tend to believe what we see, not what we hear. That is, we believe the non-verbals.

4. Improper Use of Questions

Many people believe that if they ask a multitude of questions, they are communicating well and connecting with the other person. This may or may not be the case! We must ask the right questions at the right time to get the information we need to communicate effectively. That means asking open-ended questions – questions that begin with who, what, when, why, where, and how. Open-ended questions help true discussion and understanding to take place.

© 2008 Timothy I. Thomas
Article Source: Makarios Consulting, LLC