Effective communication is measured by the quality of message and the meaning received. Barriers interfere with the communication. They distort the meaning of message. They limit the use of communication. They create noise.

Barriers cause communication breakdown. They lead to misperceptions, misunderstanding, conflicts, friction and delayed decision.

The barriers to effective communication can be;

1. Physical Barriers

They are present in the environment in which the communication takes place. They can be:

Physical distance:

It is between sender and receiver. It proves a barrier to communication. For example: Jhapa to Jumla in Nepal are far apart.


It is from external sources. It disrupts verbal communication. It interferes with accurate reception of message.

Physical arrangements:

They obstruct communication. For example: a wall between two people can be a barrier.

2. Psychological Barriers

They can be:

Selective perception:

The receiver selectively sees and hears what s/he wants to see and hear as s/he decodes the message. The exceptions of the receiver affect decoding. Perceptual differences create barriers.


The sender manipulates information so that it will be seen more favorably by the receiver. A subordinate tells his boss what he feels his boss wants to hear. This distorts the message.


Receiver may distrust the credibility of the sender. Lack of trust between sender and receiver creates a barrier. There can be ego barrier where the receiver only contradicts.


Emotional factors interfere with decoding by the receiver. They can be: anger, hate, fear, jealously, love. The meaning is emotionally filtered by the receiver. Undue tension and anxiety create communication apprehension. Too much talking can be a barrier.


Jaundiced viewpoints and biases create barrier to communication. People ignore communication that is conflicting with their viewpoints.

3. Organizational Barrier

They are organization-related barriers. They can be:

Information overload:

If sender sends too much information in too short a period, the receiver suffers from information overload. The information inflow exceeds the receiver’s processing capacity.

Electronic communication has made it possible to transmit vast amounts of information.

Poor planning:

The message design, encoding and channel selection may be poorly planned. Conflicting signals may be sent. Part of message may be omitted.

Complex structure:

Multiple layers of hierarchy in complex organizations serve as barriers to communication. They create organizational distance between the sender and receiver.

Status differences:

Status differences between sender and receiver serve as barrier to communication. Superiors resort to screening by transmitting selective information which they feel subordinates should receive. They may be hesitant to share information with subordinates.

Subordinates resort to filtering by sending information which they feel their superiors appreciate.


Time pressure serves as a barrier to communication. Delays in sending information can be a barrier. Bad timing can also be a barrier.

Lack of feedback:

Lack of feedback by receiver to the sender can be a barrier. Communication gap can arise.

4. Semantic Barriers

Semantics is the study of meaning of words. Semantic barriers limit symbols used for communication. They can be:

Ambiguous language:

The same words can have different meanings in different languages. The meaning intended by the sender can be different from the meaning given by the receiver due to cross cultural barriers.

Ambiguity and mixed messages serve as barriers.


It is specialized terminology or technical language. Unfamiliar jargon disrupts the understanding of meaning of communication. It confuses the receiver. It is not commonly used language. It is specialized words for specific occupations.

The word “round” has 110 meaning in English.