Receiver-centric Barriers

Causes of Receiver-centric Communication Barriers

Receiver-centric barriers are the communication barriersOpens in new window that result from shortcomings at the receiver’s end.

These may occur at any of the ‘post-message delivery’ stages: decoding, comprehending, interpreting or analyzing the message in the communication processOpens in new window.

The factors that cause receiver-centric communication barrier are discussed below.

1.   Poor listening

Poor listening behaviourOpens in new window may result from lack of interest about the topic of the message.

A receiver may feel averse to listening to a message if he/she is not interested in the particular topic, thus resulting in communication failure.

2.   Lack of relevant information

If the receiver does not have access to the recent developments and is not abreast with their domain’s nitty-gritty or lacks conceptual clarity about the topic, indifference may develop for the subject matter.

The receiver thus might not like to waste time in listening to or reading the message.

3.   Inattentiveness

The receiver may become inattentive while receiving a message, especially when the message contains a new idea.

The human mind is naturally apprehensive towards change and prone to resist new ideas.

Change also threatens existing security and stability. Thus, the moment a new idea is presented, one unconsciously becomes inattentive.

Sometimes, external or internal distractions may cause inattentiveness.

For example, it could be that an employee does not listen to the supervisor’s instructions attentively because of the honking of a vehicle outside (a phenomenon of external distraction), or because of amusement at the supervisor’s artificial anger (a phenomenon of internal distraction).

Sometimes, when the receiver has received the message partially, his mind may get busy in framing a reply to it or in guessing what might be said, thus missing out what is actually being said.

4.   Time deficit

Time is precious not only for the sender but likewise the receiver.

Any message received in a hurry with less focus or a disturbed state of mind is unlikely to get the desired result.

It is important that both the sender and the receiver devote sufficient time exchanging information and feedback respectively.

5.   Lack of language proficiency

Because language Opens in new window is a symbolic means of communication, it creates possibilities for distortion or misunderstanding of the original message.

Language proficiency is important both for the sender as well as the receiver in any communication process.

The lack of it may cause poorly explained or misunderstood messages resulting in confusion.

This is because the words that a sender chooses are received and deciphered through the receiver’s mental filters Opens in new window based on his/her experience and abilities.

The lack of language proficiency or linguistic deficiency will not only dilute the efficacy of the communication but might also lead to its failure.

Some areas that demands little tidiness are as follows:

(a)  Interpretation of words

Words play a vital role in communication. Words can convey divergent meanings depending on the context.

There is possibility that the receiver of a message does not assign the meaning as the sender had intended.

This may lead to miscommunication. For example, in the sentence, ‘The government has agreed to bail out the company’, the actual meaning of bail out—‘providing financial aid’—may not get interpreted by the receiver in the same way if s/he is not able to differentiate between bail and bail out.

(b)  Bypassed instructions

Bypassing Opens in new window occurs if the sender and the receiver of the message attribute different meanings to the same word or use different words for the same meaning.

For example, in the sentence, ‘The auditor carefully assayed the balance sheet of the company’, the actual meaning of assayed—‘examined’—may get bypassed by the receiver if he or she is not able to differentiate between assay and essay.

(c)  Denotations and Connotations

Words have two types of meanings—denotative and connotative Opens in new window.

Denotative meaning only names the object without indicating its positive or negative qualities.

Words like table, book, account, and meeting are denotative by nature.

Connotative meaning, on the other hand, contains qualitative judgments and personal reactions.

Words like honest, competent, cheap, sincere, etc., are connotative by nature.

Some of these words like honest, noble and sincere have favourable connotations; others like cowardly, slow, and incompetent have unfavourable connotations.

There also exist a large number of troublesome words that have favourable connotations in one context and unfavourable connotations in the other.

One such word is cheap. Ponder these two sentences:

In the first sentence, cheap refers to ‘inferior quality’ and has an unfavourable connotation while in the second sentence, it refers to ‘reasonable prices’ and is used favourably.

Likewise, fat cheque, free enterprise, huge profits, etc., can be interpreted differently in different contexts.

It is because of the connotative meanings of the words that sometimes a remark originally intended as a compliment is interpreted as offending by the receiver.

6.   Information overload

With advances in computer and communication technologies, as well as the expansion of the Internet and long-distance access to journals and websites that provide in-depth information, we are constantly bombarded with an avalanche of information from every direction, and as a result we are experiencing an information overload.

Too much information is as bad as too little because it reduces the receiver’s ability to concentrate effectively on the most important messages.

People facing information overload sometimes tend to ignore major part of the messages, delay in responding to others, answer only partially to the messages, respond inaccurately to the messages, spend less time with each message, and respond only superficially.

7.   Lack of right attitude/collaborative effort

For successful communication, it is important that the sender does away with a judgmental attitude (a preconditioned mindset towards others) and switch to a non-judgmental attitude (an open minded, unbiased approach).

A non-judgmental attitude calls for trust and respect towards the sender’s domain expertise—education and experience.

8.   Overconfidence and under-confidence

Communication may also fail due to the receiver’s overconfidence or under-confidence about a topic.

Both situations are dangerous as an overconfident receiver may take the message too lightly while an under-confident receiver may not even have guts to question or clarify the doubts related to the message.

Just like the sender, it is important that the receiver of the message is aptly qualified in the related field.

An overqualified receiver may tend to get judgmental about the sender of the message while an under-qualified receiver may not understand it properly.