The Most Common Communication Barriers in a Company

Effective communication comes in all shapes and sizes, but one aspect is always consistent — it starts at the top. When management and team leads are able to communicate well, team members will follow their example. In turn, as they work their way up the hierarchical ladder, they’ll pass that legacy of communication on to their own team.

Why is communication so crucial to the success of a company? Because it’s the key ingredient to productivity.

When a team is able to pass on information accurately, it leads to fewer mistakes, better internal and external relations, successful project execution, and a culture of trust. Poor or ineffective communication in the workplace can lead to a culture of finger-pointing or blame, badly executed projects, confused stakeholders, upset customers, and a negative work culture.

So what are the most common communication barriers in a company? This blog post explores the most common obstacles and how to overcome them.

Lack of clarity

We’ve all been there — in a long meeting with lots of stakeholders and far too much information flying around. By the end of the meeting, you still have a number of questions and gaps that need to be filled in. 

Although the situation might feel overwhelming, it’s easy to get back on track. Before you start working on your action points, send an email to your team bullet-pointing what you plan to do. Ask if this is correct, or if you have missed something. If there has been a misunderstanding, it will be clarified imminently.

This technique ensures everybody is on the same page, and will give you and the rest of your team clarity. Before a project begins, team leads should make a habit of writing all action points in an email so that everybody understands their next steps. This is a simple concept that will guarantee strong communication. 

Language barriers

In our increasingly connected world, workplaces in Europe and around the world are becoming more international. Not only that, but client and customer bases are often spread world-wide, with many offices working with clients from different cultures, countries, and continents. 

As a result, many people are speaking a second language in the workplace, which means it’s easy for information to get missed. It might be difficult for that person to ask for clarity, as they might feel embarrassed. However, it’s exactly this lack of clarity that leads to a breakdown in communication, which leads to mistakes, which leads to an unhappy client. 

This could manifest in employees not feeling comfortable asking questions or speaking up in meetings. This could lead to miscommunication and misunderstanding later down the line, which will reflect badly on the employee, on management, and on the company as a whole. 

That’s why a company-wide language learning platform could be the solution. Whatever your company language — French, German, English — Babbel for Business has industry-specific lessons available in 14 different languages. With Babbel, your entire company can work on their chosen language at the level they feel comfortable with to help overcome one of the most common communication barriers.

Don’t take our word for it. We worked with Frankfurt-based company Sodastream to help boost employee confidence when speaking English in the workplace. Employees wanted to be able to communicate more efficiently by email and in meetings, and they found Babbel’s business-specific courses and bite-size lessons an invaluable and effective tool that quickly improved their business English. You can read all about it here

Listening skills

Communication is a two-way street, and listening is just as important as speaking. When a project is underway, team leads must learn to listen more than they speak. Encouraging feedback will help your team feel comfortable asking questions and get clarity on grey areas — plus management can pick up on misunderstandings before they become a problem. 

The best way to improve listening skills is through Active Listening.

  • Stop what you’re doing and face the speaker
  • Maintain eye contact and give physical cues
  • Visualize what the speaker is saying
  • Don’t interrupt
  • Summarize the speaker’s message back to them
  • Ask clarifying questions if necessary

Choose your medium carefully

Business communication is broad and can be delivered in a range of formats. That includes verbal, written, face-to-face, in an official meeting, or spontaneously in the kitchen. There’s intranet, instant messenger, e-mail, even memo. For management to guarantee effective business communication, there should be a generalized strategy to communicate important information, so no one misses anything.

This will differ for every project, but it’s up to management to hold universal standards on how to communicate information within their team. Choose this medium carefully — it might be best to use Slack for less formal information, and e-mail for important information. Formal agreements may need to be written up, while project developments could be discussed in person or in a meeting.

It’s up to the team lead to decide which medium works best, but with consistent direction, information won’t get lost, which is key to effective communication. 

Don’t use jargon

This is an easy trap for management to fall into, as jargon might be a quick and efficient way to explain something. The issue is that non-native speakers might not be familiar with the terms, and even some native speakers will have trouble dissecting long and convoluted industry-specific phrases.

Jargon can be a big communication barrier, so it’s always best to use simple terms when discussing a project. But the good news is that Babbel for Business has courses that are designed with specific industries and roles in mind, such as finance, hospitality, marketing, pharmaceuticals and more. So your team will become familiar with phrases and words used in their industry.

Babbel for Business is a digital language learning platform that will boost your team’s communication skills.


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