Attitudinal Barriers

Attitudinal Barriers to Effective Communication

Attitudinal barriers are the barriers that result from the individual’s own attitude and assumptions that built up over the years based on one’s socio-economic and cultural background and often get reflected in one’s day-to-day communication with others. Attitudinal barrier is one of numerous barriers within the subclass of intra-personal barriersOpens in new window.

Attitudinal barriers arise in part due to each individual’s unique frame of reference, which is the sum of their beliefs, past experiences, fears, hopes and expectations. A person’s frame of reference consists of personal, professional and organizational elements, any or all of which can filter, distort or obscure information or result in selective attention to information.

These barriers may be caused by such factors as poor management, personal conflicts, personal attitudes of individuals (which may be due to dissatisfaction or lack of motivation at work brought about by insufficient training) or just resistance to change.

Receivers’ personal attitudes and opinions tend towards barriers to effective communication. If the message transmitted by the senderOpens in new window coincides with his opinions and attitudes, he would receive it openly and favourably. However, if the message does not coincide with his views or tends to run contrary to his accepted beliefs, he does not respond favourably.

For instance, if a change in the policy of an organization proves advantageous to employees, he welcomes it as progressive and beneficial move but if it affects him adversely, he rejects it as a counter-productive step and regards it to be part of the autocracy of the management. There are two principal causes of attitudinal barriers:

  1. Egocentrism
    EgocentrismOpens in new window is an attitudinal barrier wherein one tends to be “self-focused” with the belief that one’s own ideas are more important or valuable than those of the others. This attitude is damaging to relationships as it alienates an egocentric person from others. For example, an egocentric manager may miss out on the creativity and variety of ideas that their subordinate could contribute to a project.
  2. Judgmental attitude
    A number of communication failures occur because the message tends to pass some sort of judgment against the receiver. Therefore, it is not received at its face value. Giving precedence to the expression of opinion over facts and the use of offensive or annoying expression ensures that the receiver becomes guarded and defensive.