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How to overcome communication barriers ๐Ÿ™Š

How to overcome communication barriers. Young man with long hair sat on sofa looking at his phone, wearing headphones.

How to overcome communication barriers –

Introduction ๐Ÿ‘‹

Communication barriers are everywhere!

There are so many different barriers you can encounter that make it difficult to communicate with other people, such as:

  • time e.g. limited time can make it more difficult to communicate โŒš
  • having different communication preferences, skills, or styles
  • social distance or physical barriers e.g. text messages or emails where you can’t hear someone’s tone of voice ๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ
  • having different perceptions/viewpoints e.g. different likes and dislikes
  • the other person not being interested (or thinking it’s not important) ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ
  • distractions
  • emotional barriers e.g. if you’re stressed you might not be able to communicate well
  • taboo topics ๐Ÿคซ
  • physical disabilities e.g. hearing/speech impairments
  • speaking different languages or unfamiliar accents ๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ
  • false expectations of other people
  • jargon ๐Ÿฅด
  • stereotypes
  • cultural differences e.g. in Japanese culture slurping soup noodles is seen as a compliment, and not rude. However, in Japanese culture all other forms of eating noises are seen as rude. ๐Ÿœ

Here are our top tips for overcoming communication barriers! ๐Ÿงฑ

1. Learn about your audience (and adapt to them)๐Ÿ‘€

Every person is different and communicates in different ways. ๐Ÿ“ฑ

This makes it really important to learn about the people you’re communicating with, to make sure that the message gets across. ๐Ÿ“จ

To learn about your audience, you can try and find out things like:

  • how they prefer to be communicated with ๐Ÿคณ
  • what their likes/dislikes are ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘Ž
  • what are their beliefs and cultural influences ๐Ÿ™
  • how are they feeling/likely to feel when you communicate with them ๐Ÿฅด
  • are they going to be interested in what you’re saying ๐Ÿ™„
  • how can you keep their attention ๐Ÿ‘€
  • do they have any disabilities or language barriers that you would need to consider โ™ฟ
  • what are they going to think about what you have to say ๐Ÿค”
  • do they get on well with you? ๐Ÿ’ž
  • do they trust you? ๐Ÿค

2. Right timeโŒš

Timing is everything – if you communicate at the wrong time, it could create barriers for people to understand your message.

Before you communicate, it’s important to find out:

  • how much time do you have? โฒ๏ธ
  • are you likely to be interrupted? โฏ๏ธ
  • how long will you need, to communicate what you have to say properly? ๐Ÿ”Š
  • is there anything going on in the other person’s life right now, that would make it a bad time to talk to them? ๐Ÿ˜ฌ
  • how much time does the other person have? โŒ›

3. Right place ๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ

Every location has plenty of distractions and barriers, to make communication difficult for you.

In aย study from the University of California Irvine, they found that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task after being distracted.

This could be a huge barrier to your communication!

It’s important to pick your location carefully to make sure there are as few barriers as possible. ๐Ÿ“Œ

When choosing somewhere to communicate, you can ask yourself questions like:

  • are there any distractions in your location that could make communication difficult? e.g. loud noises, other people, distracting cute dogs ๐Ÿถ
  • if you’re physically separated, would it be easier to meet in-person to reduce physical barriers?
  • if you’re using technology, is there working Wi-Fi, charging ports etc. to avoid any technical issues?

4. Right method ๐Ÿ“ฑ

There are lots of different methods of communication to choose from, so it’s important to think about what would be best for the situation you’re in!

You can choose from things like:

  • Videos
  • Text messages ๐Ÿ“ฑ
  • Emails
  • Social media messages ๐Ÿ“จ
  • Online posts
  • Face to face conversation ๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™€๏ธ
  • Letters
  • Video calls ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ
  • Drawing
  • PowerPoint presentations ๐Ÿ“Š
  • Speeches
  • Telling a story ๐Ÿ“š
  • Posters
  • Sign language ๐Ÿ‘‹
  • Formal conversation
  • Informal conversation ๐Ÿ˜„
  • Writing a book
  • Physical touch ๐Ÿค—
  • Eye contact

Work out what would be best for your audience, based on what you’ve learned about them!

5. Use language they understand ๐Ÿ—จ๏ธ

Jargon can be one of the biggest barriers to communication and stop people from listening to you straight away, so choose the language you use carefully!

To use language that others can understand, you can:

  • use simple language ๐Ÿ™‚
  • avoid jargon ๐Ÿฅด
  • adapt the language you use to suit the other person ๐Ÿ„โ€โ™€๏ธ
  • mirror the way that the other person speaks ๐Ÿชž
  • consider if you need to be formal/informal with how you speak ๐Ÿ‘”

6. Keep it brief and clear (get to the point!) ๐ŸŽฏ

These days it’s pretty difficult to pay attention.

When you communicate with someone, you only have a short amount of time to keep their attention.

To get as much information across as possible in this short window, you can:

  • plan what you’re going to say in advance ๐Ÿ“†
  • pick out the most important points you want to get across ๐Ÿฅ‡
  • organise your thoughts ๐Ÿ“
  • take it step-by-step ๐Ÿพ
  • communicate one thing at a time ๐Ÿ”ข
  • use bullet points when you can ๐ŸŽฏ
  • communicate in bite-sized chunks to avoid overloading the person you’re speaking to ๐Ÿ”

7. Check that they’ve understood you correctly โœ…

The best way to know if you’re overcoming communication barriers – is to check!

To check that you’ve been understood correctly, you could:

  • Ask them if they’ve understood ๐Ÿค”
  • Test their understanding ๐Ÿ“
  • Ask them to repeat back to you what they think you’ve said ๐Ÿ”

8. Keep adapting ๐Ÿ”

You’re never going to be perfect when it comes to communicating, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t try to be perfect!

If a communication method isn’t working for you – switch it up and try something else!

Keep experimenting and learning, to build your communication skills.

9. Be calm, patient, and respectful ๐Ÿ’–

If you’re communicating a difficult message, or communicating during an argument, it can be easy to:

  • get impatient ๐Ÿ™„
  • feel overly emotional ๐Ÿ˜ 
  • say things that you don’t mean ๐Ÿคฌ

This can make it really difficult for the other person to understand you, so try to stay calm, patient, and respectful!

19 ways to stop arguments from exploding ๐Ÿ’ฃ

10. Pace yourself๐ŸŒ

Picking the right pace can be really helpful when you’re communicating with others, especially when:

  • the other person speaks a different language ๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ
  • you’re communicating with someone who has a hearing disability โ™ฟ
  • the other person is feeling very emotional ๐Ÿ˜ข

If you:

  • communicate too fast, people might struggle to understand you
  • communicate too slowly, people might get bored and lose focus on what you’re saying.

Pick your pace carefully, to communicate well!

Conclusion ๐Ÿ‘

So that’s it!

To overcome communication barriers, you should:

  1. Learn about your audience (and adapt to them)๐Ÿ‘€
  2. Right timeโŒš
  3. Right place ๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ
  4. Right method ๐Ÿ“ฑ
  5. Use language they understand ๐Ÿ—จ๏ธ
  6. Keep it brief and clear (get to the point!) ๐ŸŽฏ
  7. Check that theyโ€™ve understood you correctly โœ…
  8. Keep adapting๐Ÿ”
  9. Be calm, patient, and respectful ๐Ÿ’–
  10. Pace yourself ๐ŸŒ

If you know anyย friends or family membersย who might benefit from learning about how to overcome communication barriers, share this post with them!

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