Overcoming Barriers to Communication


The table gives several examples of ineffective communication. For each example, indicate whether the problem is an individual barrier or an organizational barrier to communication.


Individual Organizational


Jim says that the process should be done one way on Monday, but on Wednesday he describes a different procedure.    


Martin always says, “My door is always open.” The trouble is, it is just closed.    


Jason’s team has tried to explain the patterns of failure they’ve experienced lately, but Jason is a poor listener.    


Our company relies heavily on acronyms like TQM, ROI, and RPPs, which vendors have trouble understanding.    




0.75 / 1


Close Explanation




Barriers to communication can be categorized as individual or organizational. Individual barriers are those that arise from individual characteristics, while organizational barriers are those that arise from the organizational context in which communication takes place. In the table, the individual barriers are inconsistent signals such as saying “My door is always open” when it is not and describing different processes on different days and difficulty communicating caused by the team leader’s difficulty in listening. The organizational barrier is jargon in the form of acronyms.


Read the following scenario and answer the questions.


Management at Work


You have been working in an entry-level position in Raytheon’s Environmental Health and Safety division for the last 6 months. You spend your time reviewing safety reports, entering them into the database, and compiling statistical analyses of the results for your boss, Jack Blum. Lately, Mr. Blum has been asking you when each report will be finished. Following this query, Mr. Blum often compliments you on the results of your past analyses.


What is the most important message Mr. Blum is trying to convey?


You are ready for a promotion.


He wants to know when the report will be ready.


He is worried about the results of your analysis.