Some of the barriers

Selective Perception

One of the barriers is selective perception. The term appears again here because the receivers in the communication process selectively see and hear based on their needs, motivations, experience, background and other personal characteristics. Receivers also project their interests and expectations into communications as they decode them. The employment interviewer who expects a female job applicant to put her family ahead of her career is likely to see the tendency in female applicants, regardless of whether the applications would do so or not.

Information Overload

The result of information exceeding processing capacity

Individuals have a finite capacity for processing data. For instance, consider the international sales representative who returns home to find that she has more than 600 e-mails waiting for her. It’s not possible to fully read and respond to each one of those messages without facing information overload. Today’s typical executive frequently complaints of information overload. The demands of keeping up with e-mail phone calls, faxes, meetings and professional reading create an onslaught of data that is nearly impossible to process and assimilate. What happens when individuals have more information than they can sort out and use? They tend to select out, ignore, pass over or forget information. Or they may put off further processing must be over load situation is over. In any case, the result is lost information and less effective communication.


How a receiver feels when a message is received influences how he or she interprets it. You’ll often interpret the same message differently depending on whether you’re happy or distressed. Extreme emotions are most likely to hinder effective communications. In such instances we often disregard our rational and objective thinking processes and substitute emotional judgments. It’s best to avoid reacting to a message when you’re upset because you’re likely to be thinking clearly.


Words mean different things to different people. The meanings of words are not in the words; they are in us. Age, education and cultural background are three of the more obvious variables that influence the language a person uses and the definitions he or she applies to words. But the language one uses is vastly different from how the other speaks.

In an organization, employees usually come form diverse backgrounds and, therefore have different patterns of speech. Additionally the grouping of employees into departments creates specialists who develop their own jargon or technical language. In large organizations, members are also frequently widely dispersed geographically even operating in different countries and individuals in each locale will use terms and phrases that are unique to their area. And the existence of vertical levels can also cause language problems. The language of senior executives, for instance can be mystifying to operative employees not familiar with management jargon. Keep in mind that while we may speak the same language use of that language is far from uniform. Senders tend to assume that the words and phrases they use mean the same to the receiver as they do to them. This assumption, of course, is incorrect and creates communication barriers. Knowing how each of us modifies the language would help minimize those barriers.


Do men and women communicate in the same way? The answer is no. And the differences between men and women may lead to significant misunderstandings and misperceptions.

Research on how men and women communicate has uncovered some interesting insights. She found that when men talk, they do so to emphasize status and independence, whereas women talk to create connections and intimacy. For instance, men frequently complain that women talk on and on about their problems. Women, however, criticize men for not listening. When a man hears a woman talking about a problem, he frequently asserts his desire for independence and control by providing solutions. Many women, in contrast view conversing about a problem as a means of promotion closeness. The women present the problem to gain support and connection, not to get the man’s advice.

Effective communication between the sexes is important in all organizations if they are to meet organizational goals. But how can we manage the various differences in communication styles? To keep gender differences from becoming persistent barriers to effective communication requires acceptance, understanding and a commitment to communicate adaptively with each other. Both men and women need to acknowledge that there are differences in communication styles, that one style isn’t better than the other, and that it takes real effort to talk with each other successfully.

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