Interpersonal Communication Barriers


Communication at workplaces plays a significant role in enhancing organizational efficiency. Through communication, employees are informed about the mission and vision of the organization as well as the available strategies to facilitate in achieving these missions and vision. Nevertheless, communication within organizations is not a simple task. One of the greatest barriers to communication at workplaces is the interpersonal barrier. For the success of any organization, there is a need for interpersonal communication between employees as well as between the management and the employees. Through interpersonal communication, people within an organization can brainstorm and come up with the informed decision on how to deal with issues affecting the organization. This paper aims at giving the different ways through which interpersonal barrier occurs, their effect on the organization as well as some of the ways of overcoming them.

How interpersonal communication barrier occurs

Globalization has led to diversity at workplaces. This is with respect to race, culture, skills, and gender. As a result, organizations need to ensure that people from diverse backgrounds can effectively communicate. The fact that different employees come from different backgrounds leads to them having different dialects. Hence, communication between employees becomes a problem. This has been one of the factors that have made it hard for organizations to effectively exploit the potential of diversity at workplaces. For people with different languages, it becomes hard to work as groups since they are not able to instruct one another.

Another factor that hampers interpersonal communication is perception. Different managers within an organization have varied perceptions of their operations. In instances where different departments are expected to collaborate towards achieving a certain goal, some of the managers may perceive their departments to be superior or to have more value. Such managers may end up not relating well with managers from other departments thus causing a communication breakdown between the departments (Whitehead para. 3-5). Generally, a collaboration between organizational departments has been found to fail due to managers’ perceptions.

In most cases, the different departments in organizations are physically separated. For managers from the different departments to communicate they use other methods of communication such as telephones and e-mails due to the physical barrier between them. These methods of communication turns out not to be effective especially when managers wish to communicate with a big number of employees. Most of the offices operate in closed doors. Employees are prohibited from visiting the offices unless they have very important information for their bosses. This culture of working under closed doors makes it hard for interpersonal communication between employees and their managers. The culture leads to mangers developing a sense of authority while the subordinates look at their managers as their gods. Eventually, the two parties get detached with employees fearing their managers. It becomes difficult for employees to freely relate with their managers and they are always reluctant to report matters affecting their areas of specialization.

Interpersonal communication is hampered by gender differences at workplaces. There are employees who believe that they can not be instructed by female managers. Consequently, it becomes hard for such employees to relate with female managers as they reluctantly respond to their directions. There are managers and employees who are gender biased (Whitehead para. 6). Such managers treat employees from the opposite sex with contempt and they never acknowledge their contribution to the organization. For employees that are treated with contempt, they develop negative perception towards whoever treats them that way. Interpersonal communicating between them and the person becomes poor as they try to alienate themselves from the person.

Effect of interpersonal communication barrier to an organization

Whenever an organization comes up with a project, strategies to be used in achieving the project are communicated to employees. At times, teams may be established and every team assigned to specific responsibilities aimed at realizing the project. Communication between the employees in the different groups is paramount. This is to help them effectively follow the established strategies and complete the project on time. Lack of interpersonal communication between employees in the varied groups lead to them straying from the set strategies (Garner para. 1-4). Eventually, the team ends up not successfully completing the project or completing it when they are behind the schedule.

Overcoming barriers to interpersonal communication

The negative impacts of interpersonal communication barrier call for organizations to look for ways of overcoming them. There are varied steps that can be employed in overcoming interpersonal communication barrier at workplaces. As diversity comes with employees that use different languages, it is imperative for organizations to be considerate in their word selection. For effective interpersonal communication, managers ought to apply simple words in passing across their instructions. They need to ensure that all the words used in their instructions will be decoded by every employee. In addition, employees working in the same group need to avoid using jargons that are not conventionally understood (Smith para. 3). This is to ensure that they effectively understand one another thus working together towards realizing the objectives of the group.

To overcome perceptions that hamper interpersonal communication, managers and employees need to develop the culture of listening. Rather than insisting that employees listen to their opinions, they need to also give other employees and managers a chance to express their opinions. This can help in eliminating the perception that some departments are more important to an organization than others. In the end, the different departments can strive at working together to ensure that they have achieved organizational goals together.

Rather than being assertive when making decisions on matters affecting an organization, organizational leaders ought to compose themselves and keep their personal interests aside. Encouraging an open-door operation can go along way in enhancing interpersonal communication (Smith para. 5). By allowing employees to freely visit the manager’s office and to present their opinions and grievances, they can beat the fear they have towards their managers thus being able to freely relate and communicate with them.


Interpersonal communication at workplaces plays a significant role in helping organizations achieve their objectives. Employees need to freely communicate and share ideas on ways of improving organizational performance. However, interpersonal communication in organizations is generally hampered by factors such as gender differences, physical barriers, employees’ and managers’ perceptions as well as language. These factors lead to organizations not coming up with firm strategies thus not achieving their goals. There are various measures that organizations can employ in overcoming barriers to interpersonal communication. They include using simple words when instructing employees, giving every employee an opportunity to air his or her grievances and opinions and being composed when communicating with others.

Works Cited

Garner, Eric. “Seven barriers to great communication.” 2010. Web.

Smith, Shawn. “Remove your workplace communication barriers: they are costing you more than you think!” 2003. Web.

Whitehead, Bob. “Identifying and overcoming barriers to effective communication.” 2006. Web.

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