Barriers to good communication

Know the Communication Barriers

When the response from the receiver is not what you expected then some of the following barriers may have got in the way of the message.


In the Sender

• Not being clear about what you want to say
• Not looking at the person you are speaking to
• Imposing your ideas without considering the other person
• Complicating what you are saying by giving too many details or being unclear
• Not considering the feelings of the person you are speaking to
• Not picking the right time and place to talk about potentially difficult topics
• Being vague, not giving concrete examples which help to make things clear
• Not being genuine, pretending or exaggerating
• Talking so much that the other person has\no chance to comment or ask questions
• Putting the other person down, ridiculing, attacking or annoying them
• Assuming the other person understands something just because you do
• Being incongruent – words not matching behaviour and body language
• Not summarising from time to time to check that the other person has   understood
• Speaking in a flat, monotonous tone rather that varying both tone and pace
• Speaking in a detached, remote way so that you seem disinterested
• Ignoring signs of confusion, resentment or disinterest

In the Receiver

• Interrupting the speaker to give your views, thus breaking up the flow
• Not looking at the speaker or looking bored or with a glazed expression
• Being engrossed in your own thoughts
• Allowing previous experience of the speaker put you off
• Allowing prejudices get in the way of what is being said
• Not recognising how the speaker feels about what they are saying
• Being negative about, or belittling what is being said
• Looking for points to argue with rather than points to agree with
• Changing the subject
• Fidgeting or distracting the speaker
• Not summarising to check if what you heard is correct
• Not giving full attention to the speaker by facing them, leaning towards them slightly

Other Barriers to Communication

Foreign speech and accent
Dialect – regional accents
Unspecific meaning of words
Double meanings
Jargon (except for experts in these fields)
Technical language
Woolly use of language, rambling
Insufficient information given 


Emotional problems – shy
- aggressive
- emotive word
- reactions to situations
- personality clashes
- lack of interest


Frames of reference – bias, prejudice


Physical Environment             
– noise
- not enough room
- hot or cold
- Distance
- Time


Human disability  
  - deaf
  -  blind


Organisation structure
Unable to use skills adequately
Inability to deal with people
Lack of sufficient knowledge


For more on communication skills, check out our instant download training package: Communicating With Clarity & Impact.