What Are the Different Barriers to Business Communication?

Outdated software can make teleconferencing difficult.
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  • Written By: Peter Hann
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 09 April 2014
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It is essential for businesses to communicate effectively with customers, suppliers, investors and the media and to communicate internally with staff. Communications may take place through the Internet and emails, telephone or video conferencing, letters, brochures, journals and reports, or face to face through presentations, meetings, seminars and conferences. Barriers to business communication may arise from the withholding of information by a business, which may be the result of a lack of trust between management and outside stakeholders. Unnecessary complexity and use of technical jargon in announcements also may be barriers to business communication, as may an unclear communication policy that leads to conflicting messages being given by different parts of the business. Internal communication with staff may be hindered by unnecessary secrecy or an unclear hierarchy within the business, leading to ambiguous or contradictory messages.


A business may need to communicate externally to manage its image by means of marketing and building a brand. This may be done through advertising, news releases and participation in seminars and conferences. People within the business may contribute articles to trade journals, and the business itself may issue newsletters to customers and the general public. Barriers to business communication may be created if a number of different teams within the business send out their own messages without any central coordination. To avoid creating confusion in the minds of potential and existing customers, a business may need to appoint a media communications officer and a team of staff to manage external communications and whose authorization is necessary before any communications are sent.

Internal communications are much more difficult to manage, because they take place throughout the day in the form of face-to-face meetings, email messages, formal letters and reports. Staff may receive numerous messages of differing levels of importance from people in various departments of the business or from their managers. Barriers to business communication by management to staff may arise from a desire by managers to keep some information to themselves as a result of a lack of trust or fear of an adverse reaction. This barrier may be overcome by the appointment of a communications director who manages all communications to staff and ensures that messages sent to staff about sensitive topics are worded directly and without ambiguity. In this case it is essential that other directors and managers accept that such communications must be made by the communications director and do not try to send out staff messages independently, leading to further ambiguity and mistrust.

Another barrier to business communication in the modern age can be technology. A company with an outdated or poorly designed website may find that the website isn't effectively communicating a positive message to anyone, though customers and investors could take a failing website as a sign of a failing company. Similarly, a website that can't handle the traffic load required of it at peak demand can cause visitors to the site to develop a negative perception of the business. Having staff members who can create and maintain an effective website capable of meeting demand can go a long way to overcoming some barriers to business communication.


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