8 Physical Barriers to Communication and How To Overcome Them

What are the physical barriers in communication?
  • Noise. Noise is a sound or malfunction that interrupts the sending and reception of messages during a conversation. …
  • Message distortion. …
  • Architecture. …
  • Technical difficulties. …
  • Time. …
  • Distance. …
  • Surplus of information. …
  • Environment.

Effective communication is essential in any team or work environment in order to reach goals and increase efficiency. Unfortunately, there are often physical barriers to communication that can prevent successful communication. Physical barriers can include physical distance, technology or language differences, or environmental factors that hinder our ability to communicate with one another. These physical barriers can interfere with our ability to effectively communicate our ideas, opinions, and expectations to one another, which can ultimately lead to misunderstandings, conflict, and decreased productivity. In this blog post, we will explore the different types of physical barriers to communication, their impacts on our professional relationships, and strategies for overcoming them.

Physical Barrier of Communication

What are physical barriers to communication?

Conversations can be hindered by physical barriers to communication. They may appear as a result of the environment or as a creation of man. The elements may hinder the sender from communicating with the recipient or may result in the recipient misinterpreting the message. Physical obstacles at work can make it more difficult for coworkers to communicate effectively. They are also simple to spot, which can make it simple for workers to lessen the impact of the barriers, communicate clearly with their coworkers, and evaluate messages in the appropriate contexts.

8 physical barriers to communication

Here are eight instances of actual communication barriers that can exist in the workplace:

1. Noise

Noise is any sound or malfunction that prevents messages from being sent and received during a conversation. It may alter how the listener hears the context, which may affect the interpretation they give. For instance, when two coworkers converse over coffee in the office, the noise from the construction outside may cause one of them to misunderstand what the other is saying. Noise can also hinder the performance of technology. Professionals may not be able to understand one another if a malfunctioning computer’s hum continues during a conference call.

Written communication can encounter noise as an obstacle. A misspelled word or a lack of information in an email or document may leave the reader with the wrong impression. When meeting in person, professionals can try to minimize noise by speaking in quiet settings. To make sure their coworkers have heard and understood their explanations, they can exercise patience by repeating them several times. By addressing the root cause of malfunctions, staff members can reduce technological noise. By writing clear messages that speak to the reader’s interests and only include pertinent information, they can also lessen the noise in written conversations.

2. Message distortion

When a message is interpreted by the recipient differently than it was intended to be, this is known as message distortion. It can happen during all phases of a communication process. When the sender drafts a message, they might forget to include a crucial detail, necessitating the recipient to request clarification. There could be a problem with the channel that carries the message, making the context of the conversation appear different to the recipient than it did in its original format. When the message is read by the recipient, they might interpret the words incorrectly and come to the wrong conclusion.

By proofreading their messages before sending them to the other party, senders can prevent message distortion. For instance, a worker can make sure their words convey the urgency of a situation at work or use the appropriate tone to build rapport with a client. They can select the most effective medium to transmit the message, reducing the amount of noise interference. Before formulating an interpretation, recipients can carefully review their messages to make sure they have all the details and ask for clarification.

3. Architecture

The physical design of a workplace can impact how well employees communicate. The distance between offices, the lack of a conference or break room, and the managers workspace’s closed doors are a few examples of obstacles. For instance, if members of the sales team want to work with those in the marketing department on a campaign but their division is on the other side of the building, To overcome the distance, they communicate via phone and email, but their reliance on technology also creates other barriers to communication. Because of the difficult-to-access workplace architecture, employees might not interact as frequently.

Professionals can organize desks and office supplies to facilitate communication when designing an office by taking into account how frequently they must communicate with coworkers. For instance, the business might put in place an open-door policy that enables new hires to drop by their supervisors’ offices when they have inquiries. Additionally, employees can create an open floor plan that allows them to interact face-to-face without barriers like doors and walls in the way. The transmission and reception of critical messages can be streamlined and noise levels reduced by accessible architecture.

4. Technical difficulties

Mistakes in the tools that employees use to communicate with one another are referred to as technical difficulties. For instance, it may be difficult to understand the audio and the video on the screen if the internet connection drops during a virtual video call. It’s possible that experts won’t be able to comprehend what the other parties are saying. Another illustration is a bug in the software a department uses to send instant messages to groups of people, which slows down communication and alters the workflow at the company.

Employees can address technical issues by maintaining their communication devices. For instance, they can test the audio and video quality before joining a conference call and troubleshoot software before participating in crucial online conversations. They can also get ready to send messages through different channels if the primary ones have problems. It can be important to choose a medium with the least amount of noise when speaking with coworkers.

5. Time

Time can impact the promptness and clarity of communication. When a message is received and understood by the recipient later than the sender intended, it can be difficult to convey the urgency of a work situation. When employees work in different time zones, there may be time barriers. For instance, a manager on the west coast might schedule a conference call, but a colleague on the east coast might misinterpret the agenda because the time wasn’t adjusted for their time zone.

This issue could also arise for workers who interact with coworkers who are located abroad. They might try to find an appropriate time to speak with everyone. Professionals can include multiple copies of an itinerary with the precise occasion listed in multiple time zones to avoid time conflicts. They can also create a regular schedule so that coworkers can communicate with one another wherever they work. Consider recording conversations and sending them to parties who are unavailable as a possible additional tactic to ensure they comprehend the message’s context.

6. Distance

Distance between coworkers can influence the flow of communication. Employees who telecommute to their workplaces may encounter this problem. Many of their interactions happen over the phone or in virtual spaces, like emails and instant chat programs, because they might not share a workspace with other team members. It might be difficult for them to understand messages because they can’t see their partners’ body language and facial expressions.

Using video calling programs can minimize the impact of distance. When speaking with coworkers virtually, professionals can turn on the webcam on their computers or the camera on their smartphones. They can interact virtually with their coworkers instead of in person because they can see their faces. Attending frequent video chat sessions can promote camaraderie among remote workers. They can also use written communication to confirm the specifics of verbal conversations and clarify messages they have heard.

7. Surplus of information

The recipient may not understand the context if they receive too much information in one conversation. When a sender sends multiple messages at once, the recipient might decide to concentrate only on one message while neglecting the others. They might omit crucial information or require clarification of what the sender meant, which could make the conversation take longer and increase the likelihood that a solution won’t be found. For instance, if a manager sends back-to-back emails to staff about planning for a special event, only two of the emails may receive a response, with the rest getting lost in inbox clutter.

Professionals can determine the parts of a message that are most crucial for their coworker to understand in order to avoid the excess of information Before moving on to a new topic after starting the conversation, they can make sure their colleague has understood the previous one. They can also make an effort to make their messages clear and concise, which can stop the flow of extraneous information that might divert an employee’s attention from the main point. One way a manager can prevent an employee from feeling overworked is by making a checklist that allows them to finish tasks at predetermined intervals.

8. Environment

An example of a natural physical barrier to communication is the environment. Whether employees are interacting in person or virtually, the sounds of bad weather can influence a conversation. For instance, thunder from a persistent rainstorm can be loud enough inside of an office to drown out verbal communication. Continuous rain can also result in an electricity outage, which can break internet connections required for sending and receiving emails or online messages. It may be difficult for workers to get a signal to call a coworker because strong winds can damage cell phone towers.

Other weather conditions, like sweltering heat and freezing cold, can affect how safe work environments are. Additionally, experts could prepare for the aftermath of common natural disasters that occur at certain times of the year. Although natural disasters may be beyond the control of employers, workers can make arrangements to communicate with one another if their usual channels are blocked. When they notice bad weather, they can send urgent messages to their team, which can postpone crucial work conversations until later. They can also create an employee-communicating emergency response system.


What are the five physical barriers of communication?

The principal physical and environmental barriers are Time, Place, Space, Climate, and Noise. Some of them are simple to change, while others might prove to be difficult barriers to effective communication.

What are 4 physical barriers?

Factors That Can Create A Physical Barrier
  • Workplace Architecture. A poorly designed workplace can create a physical barrier.
  • Distance. Geographical distance is a major cause of physical barriers.
  • Time. …
  • Environment. …
  • Technical Disturbances.

Which of the following is an example of physical barrier to communication?

Answer. Thunder-related hearing disturbances, disconnected phone lines, poor television reception, chat message not being sent, etc. are some examples of physical barriers of communication.

What are 3 physical barriers to communication among peers?

Physical barriers
  • Communication tools like office phones that are out-of-date or broken
  • Uncomfortable temperatures.
  • Background noise.
  • Poor lighting.
  • Having a conversation before your break, lunch, or end of work hours
  • Having a large workspace or being physically separated from coworkers
  • Closed doors.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *