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Barriers to Effective Communication

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Communication is a very important aspect and it requires some level of understanding of the subject in order to use or rather apply it accurately. By definition, it is the process through which one can make a transfer of information from one entity to another. Accordingly, it is the impartation or in simpler terms the exchange of thoughts, views or information, by means of speech, writing or in the way of signs. Communication is best described as a two way process through which thoughts, views, and information is shared and directed to a commonly accepted kind of a goal (Peter et al., 2008).

There are three major components of communication among others

They include the sender, receiver and the message. Based on these components, communication can be defined. Following this point, communication therefore can on another note be defined as a process that provides for information to be enclosed in a wrap up and then canalled through a medium by a sender to a receiver. From a broader perspective, there are several factors that matter when it comes to communication. They encompass the context through which a message is send by a sender to a receiver.

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Accordingly, the sender encoder is important, the message, the medium through which it is conveyed, the receiver decoder and the feedback given by the receiver. So to speak, these factors define the whole aspect of communication. Just as it has been highlighted, communication can be done through many ways (Peter et al., 2008). They range from oral communication to nonverbal communication. Oral communication involves speech, songs and the tone of the voice. Nonverbal communication covers the body language, touch, eye contact, sign language and writing as well. Generally, communication requires that all parties that are involved to share an expansive cohesion.

In connection to this, it is of great importance to note that the element of hearing and listening are so important when it comes to communication. This is mostly and commonly used in the area of oral communication whereby one has to speak verbally and the other one is in a position to hear and listen accordingly. In order to draw the line or rather the difference between listening and hearing it should be noted that there is a great difference that exits. However, in many cases, this difference has not been defined. Listening involves the mind of the receiver and the understanding of the message while hearing does not involve the mind and concentration of the receiver (Simon et al., 1991). Anyone who is normal and has ears can hear anything so long as it is audio and if he hears may choose to concentrate or not. On the other hand, one may hear something and then concentrate to understand it; this is termed as listening as the aspect of concentration and involvement of the mind is present.

The field of communication is an important aspect of the everyday life

It is not limited to a certain people, but, also to people who work in organizations. In order for any organization to achieve its goals, effective communication is prerequisite. In this sense, an effective aspect of communication is when the sender and the receiver are both in a position to understand each  other and the message is well understood or decoded according to the anticipated meaning by the encoder. In line with this, the field of communication is an area of great concern in organizations. There are two main channels of communication. They include both formal and informal channels. In this case, one can well understand this by means of defining one of the examples of organizations in which formal and informal channels are frequently made use of (Rizvi, 2005).  This is present in criminal justice organizations. A formal channel of communication is the one that is established by formal relationships, assignments and procedures and descriptions. In connection to this, the formal channels of communication are analogous to the formal lines of authority and responsibility. In this case, initiation, distribution and receiving of information are dictated by power and status.

In criminal justice organizations, authority matters so much and offenders and the subordinates must follow a prescribed channel of communication that runs downwards. As such, rules and regulations apply. On the other hand, the informal channel of communication does not adhere to prescribed rules of communication and authority. In a criminal justice organization, status and authority is so much honoured in that the informal way is not encouraged. However, the formal channel of communication in this case is always not effective. A total of three types of communication exist; they include the downward, the upward and the horizontal communication. The use of these ways reflects a chain of command (Allen & Sawhney, 2009). In the same line of thought, the downward communication starts with the superior officer flowing down the ranks to the receiver of the information or message. Upward communication in a criminal justice organization may prove to be so hard in the sense that it flows from the employees to the superior authority and by the time it reaches the recipient it may be completely distorted.

There are several restrictions that prevent the upward flow of communication and this is made possible by the informal channels which are mostly preferred. Despite the great use of formal channels in criminal justice organizations, the informal channels have proved to be more effective than the former. The informal channels involve the horizontal communication which can prove to be so yielding for subsystems to work. It incorporates the aspect of interpersonal communication making work easier especially in the modern times. Therefore, in criminal justice organizations, formal channels of communication are widely used. However, they have the disadvantage of distortion of information and the communication being only one way instead of two ways for effectiveness. This is because; only downward communication is used restricting the upward communication due to physical distance between superior and subordinate, isolation and difficulties in seeing and talking to the top management and moreover there is a lot of time consumption when it comes to upward communication. Informal channels which involve the horizontal communication are quiet productive and effective but since the informal channels are hindered, this has acted as a barrier to effective communication (Allen & Sawhney, 2009).

Effective communication can therefore be defined as a two way process through which the right message is send and the receiver decodes it correctly just as the encoder intended it. This being the case, there has been several factors that act as barriers to effective communication. These are factors like language barrier, culture, personal barriers, organizational barrier, attitude barrier, channel barrier and interpersonal barriers among others. Such barriers limit the effectiveness of communication resulting to the decoding of the message by the receiver to be not as the message intended or send by the encoder. In an institution, it doesn’t really matter how good the system of communication is since barriers must and will come (DuBrin, 2008). Taking the example of some of areas that barriers to effective communication has been noted, we have the aviation sector.

An example is a case that happened in the year 1990 when a Colombian Avianca while in a holding model over KennedyAirport happened to tell the controllers that their 707 was low on fuel. This statement led to the plane crushing and killing 72 people. Instead the crew should have stated that they had a fuel emergency. This was because the decoder of the message decoded it as that the crew has minimum fuel. Another real world example of barrier to effective communication is when one cannot understand the language of the one sending the message. Additionally, comments may be taken the wrong way, a joke taken as a put down and a compliment can be taken as an insult. These are just but a few of the examples of where the barriers to effective communication have had negative effects. Many are the barriers to effective communication but this can be overcome by the allowing for upward communication in case of a criminal justice organization (DuBrin, 2008). Other ways of overcoming barriers to effective communication  are; becoming a good listener, using a language that is known to the receiver, having the right attitude, good interpersonal skills, right channels of communication and the right words, signals and feedbacks given among others.

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