The communication process entails a number of steps that include coding the message by the sender, transmission of the message and decoding the message by the receiver. Decoding the message is a critical step since this is where the receiver tries to make sense of the message and act accordingly. If the receiver misunderstands the message, then the entire process of communication would have failed.
If the communication is in real time or face-to-face, clearing the misunderstanding will be a simple matter, since both the sender and receiver are present. The problem arises when the communication is not happening in real time, like in the case of an e-mail. In this case there will be a lapse of time before the sender realizes that the message was either not received properly or was not interpreted properly. In either case the process of eliminating the misunderstanding will a long and tedious one, and may entail costs in the business scenario.
Thus it is clear that decoding the message correctly is critical. The role of the sender is important in this, since it is the sender that needs to ensure that the message is as clear. However, the receiver should also ensure that he takes caution in interpreting the message.
A number of challenges may arise in interpreting or decoding the message. These are:
- Attitude of the Receiver – Of all the barriers in interpreting a message, the attitude of the receiver is the most critical and most difficult to identify as a barrier. The receiver may be biased or prejudiced against the sender or the subject of the message. In both the scenarios, the attitude of the receiver will hinder the accurate interpretation of the message. The receiver may also be disinterested in the subject of the message and therefore not pay attention.
- Emotional Dissonance – If the content of the message is in conflict with the emotions of the receiver, then he will face dissonance. This may result in misinterpretation of the message as the receiver may be guided by his emotions while decoding the message. Messages that may result in emotional reactions should be handled with care and transmitted personally if possible so that any misinterpretation can be managed immediately.
- Physical Distractions – Distractions in the environment of the receiver may also make it difficult to understand the message properly. These distractions may include loud noise or breakdown of communication system or even extreme temperature. Care should be taken to eliminate or minimize any physical distractions from the environment.
- Lack of Knowledge or Communication Skills – If the receiver lacks knowledge in the subject under discussion, he may not want to put in additional effort in trying to understand the message. In this case his lack of knowledge may prevent him from fully grasping the meaning of the message. At the same time if the receiver lacks adequate communication skills like proficiency in the language, chances of miscommunication are high.
It is important to know these barriers to be able to overcome them or avoid them altogether, to ensure effective communication.
The BizComm Model of Srengthscape provides key insights into barriers and other critical aspects of communication.