Interpersonal communication barriers

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Interpersonalcommunication barriers

Reportingthe incidence

Afew days ago I was heading to the mall to meet with my friend as wereto undertake a class activity. However, due to unavoidablecircumstances, I was held back at home, and before I knew it, timefor the meeting was fast approaching. I quickly rushed to the subwaystation and headed to the mall. After alighting at my destination, Istarted rushing toward the mall as it was already some minute’spast the stipulated time. Accidentally, I bumped into anotherindividual while approaching the entrance of the mall. I turned toapologize as his friend helped him up to his feet. I noticed that hewas trying to say something though it did not make sense at the time.He was using gesture and hand signs. Given that I was desperate andin a hurry to get to the meeting, I turned to his friend and askedhim what he was saying. His friend had a thick French accent thatmade it impossible to understand his explanation. Noticing thestruggle I was growing through, the guy (I later came to learn hisname was Peter) told me in simplified sign language that he wasphysically disabled and he could not talk properly. I turned to hisfriend and explained to him the reason for my carelessness that hadled to the incidence.

However,as I tried to leave, he tried to hold me by the hand. I turned aroundwith my face showing total discontent. In a distorted utterance, theindividual with a French accent told me that his friend name wasPeter and that he said he was my neighbour. Taking a closer look Irealized that he was familiar, but my tight schedule had denied me tomake acquaintances with him back at our living place. Being aware ofmy worsening time schedule, I told Peter that I remembered him andwould look for him later but, for now he should let me hurry to mydestination. However, he resisted, and after a hard struggle, I cameto understood that he wanted me to assist them with directions towhere place that they were heading as they were also late to anappointment. Very calmly and slowly to ensure that they were able tounderstand my language, given that English was a second language, Idirected them towards their destination and we parted ways. On my wayto my friends, I realized that the reason for me being late wasbecause, in my hurry, I had failed to recognize the fact that Peterhad speech challenges and this led to time wastage it took a whilebefore understanding what they were trying to communicate.

Analysisof the incidence

Languagedifferences and unfamiliar accents

Thisoccurs when two persons engaged in a conversation are unable tounderstand each other because of the difference the language they areusing. Additionally, it may occur when an unfamiliar accent presentsitself in the utterances of a person making it difficult tounderstand when they are saying even when using a familiar language.This type of barrier mainly occurs when those communication come fromregions or countries that use different languages. In the incidenceabove, the language barrier is evident when I tried to talk withPeter’s friend. Though we were both speaking in English, my Chineseinfested utterances coupled with his French accent dominatedsentences made it difficult for use to understand one another.

Physicaldisability and in particular speech difficulty

Physicaldisability in the form of speech difficulties occur when a person’sverbal functions are not entirely operational and thus making itdifficult for them to engage in conversations. This is a challengethat cannot be overcome, and in most cases, affected individuals relyon sign language. In the incidence, this occurs when I realized thatPeter was trying to tell me something using his hand. After realizingthe difficulty his friend was having in explaining his condition, heused simplified language to inform me that he could not speak.


Assumptionsis another barrier to effective interpersonal communication. Toenable one to engage with others, people tend to make certainassumptions and stick to them even when there is evidence that theyare inapplicable or misleading. For instance, during my incidencewith Peter, I was engaging under the assumption that Peter was notphysically challenged and thus after apologizing he could tell me ifhe had any issues. When he did not talk, I assumed he was okay, andtherefore continued to my destination.

Lackof interest, attention or distractions

Inmost cases, communication is barred by the fact that the receiver ofthe information is either uninterested or is not paying attentionwhen another is trying to relay something to them. Additionally, onemay be distracted, and this makes it difficult for them to understandwhat is being communicated. For instance, in the incidence, I was toocarried away by the need to get to my engagement and this made itdifficult to concentrate on what Peter and his friend were trying tosay.


Stereotypinginvolves using very limited information about a person to makecertain conclusions and use them to guide a conversation. Forinstance, having seen that Peter and his friends were whiteAmericans, I immediately categorize them as fluent English speakersand given my Asian origin, I believed that it was they who had to beattentive to understand what I was saying and not the other wayaround. However, it turned out that they were not American and thissignificantly affected communication between us.

Proposedcorrective/preventive strategy

Theanalysis above presents several barriers to effective interpersonalcommunication. These hindrances played a role in limitingcommunication between Peter and me during the discussed incidence.However, there are corrective/preventive strategies that may beimplemented to ensure that such occurrences are limited. The measuresfor each barrier have been discussed below.

Languagedifferences and unfamiliar accents

Toensure that interpersonal communication is not hindered due tolanguage difference or strange accent, it is important to engage in aconversation using straightforward and clear sentences. Additionally,one should put extra efforts to listen to the person they areconversing with and try to use the environment around to help themunderstand what is being communicated. These strategies are vital inovercoming this barrier because they allow the listener to viewmatters from the perspective of the person talking. Understand thechallenge one faces while trying to communicate with a person fromanother nation increases the chances of learning what is being said.

Physicaldisability in particular speech difficulties

Thoughcommunication with a physically challenged person dictates for one tolearn and understand their use of signs, it is possible to conversewith these individuals without necessarily learning the complexlanguage. This can be achieved by being sympathetic and sensitive totheir condition. Physically disabled people are appreciative of thefact that most members of the society cannot use sigh language andthus go an extra mile to pass information. Being sensitive to thesefacts ensure that a person remains committed to trying andunderstanding what they are being told. This strategy is applicablehere because it is not possible to change the condition of physicaldisability, but one can learn to accommodate those that live with thechallenge.


Thoughassumptions may be accurate at times, it is important for one to testthem to ensure that they do not strain communication. This involvesbeing open to the idea that the assumptions could have beeninaccurate and being ready to drop them and continue discussions withan open mind. Additionally, assumptions are made due to lack ofinformation. Thus, communication barriers resulting from then can beaddressed by using the first instance of interaction to collectadequate information and use the information shape the rest of theconversation. For instance, in the incidence above, the communicationbetween Peter and me could have been better had I been open to theidea that there was a possibility he was disabled. Being aware ofthis, I could have conversed more efficiently.

Lackof interest, attention or distraction

Communicationcan only be effective if the person receiving the information isinterested. Thus, to address this barrier, it is important forindividuals to be attentive in every conversation, even if it is notimportant. Additionally, one should avoid distractions whilecommunicating as this limits their ability to comprehend what isbeing said. This strategy is useful for the case above becausecommunication is only effective when the message is received. Payingattention and showing some degree of interest allows the recipient toshield away distractions and acquire what has been relayed to them.


Stereotypesare formed to help people fill information gaps and are usuallycreated with very minimal information. Thus, to address the barriersresulting from it, it is important for people to acquire the rightinformation about the environment in which they exist. Having thecorrect knowledge allows one to engage in a conversation while beingconscious of all the issues that may occur and hinder the discussion. I believe this strategy can address the barrier because as seen inthe case, the miscommunication occurred because of the stereotype Iheld about all whites living in the US.

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