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6.3a List barriers to effective communication

Despite your best efforts to communicate effectively, there can sometimes be communication barriers that get in the way and make communication difficult. Here are some examples of communication barriers that you may come across:

  • Attitude-When a worker is abrupt because of their mood or something else, the person they are talking to could feel frustrated and not want to communicate.
  • Limited use of technology-When technological aids that are used to help the individual communicate are not available.
  • Body positioning-Sitting too close could be intimidating while sitting too far away could show a lack of interest or concern.
  • Emotions-Someone who is feeling depressed, angry, embarrassed or upset may not be able to think or communicate in a sensible way.
  • Physical-When someone has a physical condition that makes communication difficult, for example, if they are breathless or in pain.
  • Not enough time-Not giving individuals enough time to say what they want may make them feel rushed and reluctant to express their true wishes.
  • Poor or negative body language-Crossed arms or legs, poor facial expressions and similar negative body language can make someone less likely to communicate.
  • Lack of privacy-Individuals may not want to talk about something private or confidential if they lack privacy.
  • Stereotyping-Generalisations, for example, thinking that all old people are hard of hearing.

In the next section we will go over what you can do to reduce these barriers to improve communication with individuals.