Selasa, 9 Disember 2008

The Barriers & Importance of Communication in The Workplace - By Che Khairul Azli


a. Importance of communications in the workplace.

Communication is one of the basic functions of management in any organization and its importance can hardly be overemphasized. It is a process of transmitting information, ideas, thoughts, opinions and plans between various parts of an organization. You cannot have human relations without communication. However, good and effective communication is required not only for good human relations but also for good and successful business (Thomas B. Farell, 1987).

You can use softwares like business writing software for writing effective business communication, which is required at various levels and for various aspects in an organization such as -

Importance of communication for manager and employee relations: Effective communication of information and decision is an essential component for management-employee relations. The manager cannot get the work done from employees unless they are communicated effectively of what he wants to be done? He should also be sure of some basic facts such as how to communicate and what results can be expected from that communication. Most of management problems arise because of lack of effective communication. Chances of misunderstanding and misrepresentation can be minimized with proper communication system (Kathleen, 1996).

For motivation and employee morale: Communication is also a basic tool for motivation, which can improve morale of the employees in an organization. Inappropriate or faulty communication among employees or between manager and his subordinates is the major cause of conflict and low morale at work. Manager should clarify to employees about what is to be done, how well are they doing and what can be done for better performance to improve their motivation. He can prepare a written statement, clearly outlining the relationship between company objectives and personal objectives and integrating the interest of the two (Robert Bostrom, 1992).

For increase productivity: With effective communication, you can maintain a good human relation in the organization and by encouraging ideas or suggestions from employees or workers and implementing them whenever possible, you can also increase production at low cost (Baskin & Aronoff, 1980).

For employees: It is through the communication that employees submit their work reports, comments, grievances and suggestions to their seniors or management. Organization should have effective and speedy communication policy and procedures to avoid delays, misunderstandings, confusion or distortions of facts and to establish harmony among all the concerned people and departments (Jablin, 1992).

b. The barriers in communications.

1. Physical barriers

Stoner & Wankel (1989) physical barriers in the workplace include:

  1. marked out territories, empires and fiefdoms into which strangers are not allowed
  2. closed office doors, barrier screens, separate areas for people of different status
  3. large working areas or working in one unit that is physically separate from others.

Research shows that one of the most important factors in building cohesive teams is proximity. As long as people still have a personal space that they can call their own, nearness to others aids communication because it helps us get to know one another.

2. Perceptual barriers

Schultz (1996), the problem with communicating with others is that we all see the world differently. If we didn't, we would have no need to communicate: something like extrasensory perception would take its place.

The following anecdote is a reminder of how our thoughts, assumptions and perceptions shape our own realities:

A traveller was walking down a road when he met a man from the next town. "Excuse me," he said. "I am hoping to stay in the next town tonight. Can you tell me what the townspeople are like?"

"Well," said the townsman, "how did you find the people in the last town you visited?"

"Oh, they were an irascible bunch. Kept to themselves. Took me for a fool. Over-charged me for what I got. Gave me very poor service."

"Well, then," said the townsman, "you'll find them pretty much the same here."

3. Emotional barriers

Allan L. Sillars (1983), one of the chief barriers to open and free communications is the emotional barrier. It is comprised mainly of fear, mistrust and suspicion. The roots of our emotional mistrust of others lie in our childhood and infancy when we were taught to be careful what we said to others.

"Mind your P's and Q's"; "Don't speak until you're spoken to"; "Children should be seen and not heard". As a result many people hold back from communicating their thoughts and feelings to others.

They feel vulnerable. While some caution may be wise in certain relationships, excessive fear of what others might think of us can stunt our development as effective communicators and our ability to form meaningful relationships.

4. Cultural barriers

Huseman (1977), when we join a group and wish to remain in it, sooner or later we need to adopt the behaviour patterns of the group. These are the behaviours that the group accept as signs of belonging.

The group rewards such behaviour through acts of recognition, approval and inclusion. In groups which are happy to accept you, and where you are happy to conform, there is a mutuality of interest and a high level of win-win contact.

Where, however, there are barriers to your membership of a group, a high level of game-playing replaces good communication.

5. Language barriers

Language that describes what we want to say in our terms may present barriers to others who are not familiar with our expressions, buzz-words and jargon. When we couch our communication in such language, it is a way of excluding others. In a global market place the greatest compliment we can pay another person is to talk in their language.

One of the more chilling memories of the Cold War was the threat by the Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev saying to the Americans at the United Nations: "We will bury you!" This was taken to mean a threat of nuclear annihilation.

However, a more accurate reading of Khruschev's words would have been: "We will overtake you!" meaning economic superiority. It was not just the language, but the fear and suspicion that the West had of the Soviet Union that led to the more alarmist and sinister interpretation.

6. Gender barriers

There are distinct differences between the speech patterns in a man and those in a woman. A woman speaks between 22,000 and 25,000 words a day whereas a man speaks between 7,000 and 10,000. In childhood, girls speak earlier than boys and at the age of three, have a vocabulary twice that of boys.

Jandt (1995), the reason for this lies in the wiring of a man's and woman's brains. When a man talks, his speech is located in the left side of the brain but in no specific area. When a woman talks, the speech is located in both hemispheres and in two specific locations.

This means that a man talks in a linear, logical and compartmentalised way, features of left-brain thinking; whereas a woman talks more freely mixing logic and emotion, features of both sides of the brain. It also explains why women talk for much longer than men each day.

7 Interpersonal barriers

Goldhaber (1990), there are levels at which people can distance themselves from one another:

  1. Withdrawal is an absence of interpersonal contact. It is both refusal to be in touch and time alone.
  2. Rituals are meaningless, repetitive routines devoid of real contact.
  3. Pastimes fill up time with others in social but superficial activities.
  4. Working activities are those tasks which follow the rules and procedures of contact but no more.
  5. Games are subtle, manipulative interactions which are about winning and losing. They include "rackets" and "stamps".
  6. Closeness is the aim of interpersonal contact where there is a high level of honesty and acceptance of yourself and others.

Working on improving your communications is a broad-brush activity. You have to change your thoughts, your feelings, and your physical connections.

That way, you can break down the barriers that get in your way and start building relationships that really work.


Alan L. Sillars, Gary R. Pike, Tricia S. Jones and Kathleen Redmon, “Communication and Conflict in Marriage,” in Communication Yearbook 7, ed. R. Bostrom (Beverly Hills, CA : Sage 1983) pp. 414-429.

Baskin, O.W. and Aronoff, C. E., 1980. Interpersonal Communication in Organization. Santa Monica: Goodyear.

Goldhaber, 1990. Organizational Communication. Edisi 5. Dubuque:WM. C. Brown.

Huseman, R. C., Lahiff, J.M. and Hatfield, J.D., 1977. Interpersonal Communication in Organization. Boston: Holbrook.

Jablin, F. M., 1992. “Superior-subordinates Communication: The State of The Art” in Hutchinson, K. L. edt. Readings in Organizational Communication. Dubuque: WM. C. Brown.

Jandt, F.E., 1995. Intercultural Communications: An Introduction. Thousand Oak: Sage.

Kathleen K. Reardon and Emmeline G. de Pillis,”Multichannel Leadership : Revisiting the False Dichotomy,” An Integrated Approach to Communication Theory and Research, eds. M.B. Salwen and D.W. Stacks (Mahwah, NJ : Erlbaum, 1996)

Robert Bostrom and Lewis Donohew, “ The case for Empiricisms: Clarify Fundamental Issues in Communication Theory,” Communication Monograph 59 (1992) : 109-129.

Sch. Itz, B. (1996). Communicating in Small Group. Edisi 2. New York : Harper Collins.

Stoner, J.A.F dan Wankel, C., 1989. Pengurusan. Terjemahan. Petaling Jaya. Amiza.

Thomas B. Farell, “Beyond Science : Humanities Contributions to Communications Theory,” in Handbook of Communication Science eds. C.R. Berger and S.H.Chafee (Newbury Park, CA : Sage, 1987) pp. 123-139.

Disediakan oleh : Che Khairul Azli bin Che Ahmad. (Alumni Debat UiTM)

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