Effective Ways of Overcoming Barriers to Communication

Communication plays a major role in employer-employee relationships on farms. It also affects the relationships among family members on the management team. Although effective communication does not guarantee success of a farm business, its absence usually assures problems. A communication problem may soon become a crisis or it may linger on for years. This article covers the effective ways of overcoming barriers to communication.

More specifically, communication influences the effectiveness of the hiring and training of employees, motivation of employees, providing daily instructions, performance evaluations and the handling of discipline problems. These are the obvious roles of communication.

Communication also affects the willingness of employees to provide useful suggestions. Employees feeling a part of the business requires communication. In fact, for employees to make the important evolution from “workers” to “working managers” requires effective communication between supervisors and employees.

Employees typically are hesitant to state their goals, their concerns and their disappointments. Of course, an employee may be a complainer and share views to the point a supervisor silently begs for less “communication.” Much more common is the need to better understand what an employee is “really thinking.”

This paper is about improving communication skills. Removing barriers to communication is one of the easiest ways to improve communication. Removing these barriers starts with an understanding of a communication model. This paper should help managers think about their own communication skills and the way they communicate day-to-day back home.

Communication Model

Phase 1

The process starts with a sender who has a message for a receiver. Two or more people are always involved in communication. The sender has the responsibility for the message. This article covers the effective ways of overcoming barriers to communication.

The sender’s message travels to the receiver through one or more channels chosen by the sender. The channels may be verbal or non-verbal. They may involve only one of the senses, hearing for example, or they may involve all five of the senses: hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste. Non-verbal communication, popularly referred to as body language, relies primarily on seeing rather than hearing.

The sending of a message by an appropriate channel to a receiver appears to have completed the communication process or at least the sender’s responsibility. Not so! After sending the message, the sender becomes a receiver and the receiver becomes a sender through the process of feedback. Feedback is the receiver’s response to the attempt by the sender to send the message, and it is the key to determination by the sender of whether or not the message has been received in the intended form. Feedback involves choice of channel by the receiver of the original message. The channel for feedback may be quite different from the original channel chosen by the sender. A puzzled look may be the feedback to what the sender considered a perfectly clear oral instruction.

Phase 2

Effect on the receiver completes the communication process. Effective communication is the original sender having the desired effect on the receiver. Communication at its best minimizes misunderstanding between sender and receiver. The sender cannot transplant a message or idea. Ineffective communication means there was no effect on the receiver or the effect was unexpected, undesired and/or unknown to the sender.

This simplified version of a complex process can be a powerful tool for thinking about one’s communication skills, diagnosing communication problems and developing plans for improvement of communication. The good news about communication is that improvement is usually possible. The bad news is that perfection in communication escapes everyone. This article covers the effective ways of overcoming barriers to communication.

 Facilitating Communication

In addition to removal of specific barriers to communication, the following general guidelines may also facilitate communication. This article covers the effective ways of overcoming barriers to communication.

  1. Have a positive attitude about communication. Defensiveness interferes with communication.
  • Work at improving communication skills. It takes knowledge and work. The communication model and discussion of barriers to communication provide the necessary knowledge. This increased awareness of the potential for improving communication is the first step to better communication.
  • Include communication as a skill to be evaluated along with all the other skills in each person’s job description. Help other people improve their communication skills by helping them understand their communication problems.
  • Make communication goal oriented. Relational goals come first and pave the way for other goals. When the sender and receiver have a good relationship, they are much more likely to accomplish their communication goals.
  • Approach communication as a creative process rather than simply part of the chore of working with people. Experiment with communication alternatives. What works with one person may not work well with another person. Vary channels, listening techniques, and feedback techniques.
  • Accept the reality of miscommunication. The best communicators fail to have perfect communication. They accept miscommunication and work to minimize its negative impacts.


Communication is at the heart of many interpersonal problems faced by farm employers. Understanding the communication process and then working at improvement provide managers a recipe for becoming more effective communicators. Knowing the common barriers to communication is the first step to minimizing their impact. Managers can reflect on how they are doing and make use of the ideas presented in this paper. When taking stock of how well you are doing as a manager, first ask yourself and others how well you are doing as a communicator.

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