The best ways of overcoming barriers to effective communication


We all know the importance of good communication in the workplace.

The reasons for this are clear. One report has found that businesses with effective communication skills are 50% more likely to have lower employee turnover.

But that’s not all. 96% of execs cite a lack of collaboration and ineffective communications for workplace failures.

With such a high percentage, it is essential that organisations look at the best ways of overcoming the main barriers to effective communication. In this blog post, we look at how you can do this.

Reduce email communication

Reduce email communication

You may think that it will be difficult for you to stop using email as a communication tool, especially when you consider that 269 billion of them are sent every day.

But is checking and/or responding to emails making the best use of your time? In a word – no. The guys at SaneBox have put together some compelling reasons why this is the case:

  • Important emails account for just 38% of all messages received.
  • It takes 90 seconds to recover from one email.
  • The average number of business emails sent and received per day is 122.
  • The average person spends 28% of the workweek reading and responding to email, which equates to 650 hours a year.

Pretty shocking right? With the sheer volume of emails, it is nearly impossible for anyone to keep track of ongoing conversations, let alone changes to a document you’re working on with colleagues.

But don’t worry, there are alternatives out there. Many organisations in the public and private sectors are now using online collaboration tools to communicate with internal and external stakeholders. These platforms make it easier to keep track of documents, tasks and data as they are all together in one secure online environment.

Have a clear and simple hierarchy

People like a clear hierarchy. Well that’s according to a study conducted by professors at Stanford Graduate School and Cornell University’s Industrial and Labour Relations School.

The results found that those who had worked for a hierarchical company found tasks easier and expressed a more favourable view of their organisation.

Creating a structure is pretty straightforward. When you’re working on a project, some of the job roles that you might want to include are:

  • Project owner
  • Project manager
  • Project sponsor
  • Team members
  • Project communications officer
  • Project administrator
  • Project planner

This is just a small selection of roles. A lot will obviously depend on how big your organisation is and the scope of your project. Just make sure that you have a clear structure in place before starting and that everyone is fully aware of the role they have to play.

Break down physical barriers to effective communication

 barriers to effective communication

Imagine this situation. You have an upcoming deadline quickly coming up and you desperately need to get hold of your colleague, “Mike” to answer a question.

In this situation you will either:

  • Trudge around the office like a lost sheep hoping to find him. Just think of the wasted time!
  • Pick up the phone – but what happens if he is out of the office?
  • Email – You would then try email of course. But as mentioned in the first point, this is a non-starter.
  • Start wondering whether you will ever be able to answer your question.

That’s why you need to find an alternate way to find the information that you’re looking for. An online collaboration tool can help by allowing you to:

  • Create an intranet – Create a single source of information so there is a high chance that you’ll find the resources that you need.
  • Utitlise discussion forums – Create forums for different aspects of your project. If you can’t find Mike or any other colleague, why not create a discussion to quickly reach out to other people from within and outside of your organisation for help?
  • Create an FAQ page – Populate a database with common questions and answers. Encourage others to contribute too. The more information, the better!
  • Start a blog – An internal or team blog is a great way for your team to discuss industry news, best practices and much more.

Master the most common communication skills

It goes without saying, that having the ability to communicate with colleagues, partners or suppliers well is one of the keys to success in the workplace.

Failure to do this could be extremely costly. In a survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees, each cited an average loss per company of £47.83 million per year because of inadequate communication too and between employees.

So, what can be done about this? First, you must understand how important each communication channel is.

Verbal communication

Whether you work in customer service or have to manage high-level stakeholders, effective verbal communication is key.

It doesn’t matter who you’re speaking too really. In order for them to understand clearly what you’re saying, you should try to strike a balance between using uncomplicated language, but not so simple that it comes across as patronising.

Nonverbal communication

According to Psychology Today, 55% of communication is body language, 38% is the tone of voice, and 7% is the actual words spoken.

But what are the non-verbal signals that you need to refrain from doing? Here are just a few examples:

  • Facial expressions – Usually it’s clear when someone is happy, sad, fearful etc
  • Gestures – Even something as subtle as an eye roll can be very powerful.
  • Appearance – It’s a well-known fact, that different colours can evoke different moods.
  • Posture/body language – Defensive postures such as arm or leg folding are quite common.

Written communication

All of these communication skills are essential.

But if you were to rank them in terms of importance, there would only be one winner.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 73.4% of employers want a candidate with strong written communication skills.

When communicating this way, on a basic level you should have excellent spelling, punctuation and grammar, (but you knew that already right?!)

To take this further, you need to ensure that information is communicated in such a way that the reader is left in no doubt about what you’re trying to get across.

Using an online collaboration tool can help t0 break down the communication barriers between your internal and external stakeholders. Our guide answers the 10 essential questions that you will need to ask a potential supplier, in order to choose the right one for your business.

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