The term physical barrier refers to the conditions that act as a roadblock and prevents effective communication. These are easily visible and can take any form, for instance, closed doors or walls. The physical barrier is very high if the distance between the sender and receiver is also too much.
Physical barriers are described as structural obstructions in both humanmade and natural environments that block effective communication so that messages cannot be sent from the sender to the receiver.
Some of the physical barriers are noise, technological problems, and organizational environment. The physical barrier is another word for disturbance in communication, and the disturbance can also be caused by thunder, disconnection of calls, or issues in reception.
It is challenging to overcome the physical barriers in communication. Take the necessary time to identify the barriers so that it becomes easy to resolve the issue. Adapt your communication techniques to suit the situation; otherwise, it will pose serious problems.
Types of physical barriers
The various types of physical barriers are as follows
The ordinary meaning of the word noise is chatter or racquet, and that is what happens in this type of physical barrier. It interrupts the process of communication because of disturbance in the environment. The interruption acts as an obstacle and makes the meaning of the message unclear, inaccurate, and ultimately less productive.
In some cases, the noise is too much, and the message is unable to reach the receiver. There are various types of noise like technological noise, written noise, and environmental noise, and all of them are considered physical barriers in communication.
The technological noise occurs in the channel or medium, for instance, no sound during a phone call. Bad typing or handwriting is considered written noise, and environmental noise is the disturbance that happens because of background or outside disturbance.
The word distortion means misrepresentation, and that is what happens when a message is sent.
It is a type of physical barrier because the actual meaning of the message is lost in transition or during the handling process while encoding and decoding the communication. In simple words, human perception can easily distort the meaning of the message.
3. Information overflow
Sometimes, the communication fails as the information is more than the amount that can be received by the sender at that specific time.
The receiver is unable to collect the full information and might miss or misinterpret the message. As the message fails to get the desired result, it acts as a physical barrier in communication.
Causes of physical barriers
The various causes are as follows
One of the causes of physical barriers are environmental factors. It includes wind, rain, thunder that creates a random noise that cannot be stopped anyhow. This continuous sound, which is already a part of nature, starts disturbing the flow of the message. Some physical barriers exist because of adverse weather conditions. Improper lighting and sudden thunder distort proper communication.
Unstable temperature is another environmental factor that is capable of disturbing the flow of the message. In case of too high or too low temperature, it becomes difficult for people to concentrate fully on the information they are sending.
The unstable temperature is the reason for creating an unfocused message and results in a physical barrier to communication. It is a fact that the concern about their well-being prevents the sender and receiver from putting their full attention on the message.
Shortage of time or sending a message in inappropriate time can be a significant cause of physical barriers as the message is then not conveyed effectively.
It is essential to keep the time of the message accurate; otherwise, the sender and the receiver of the message will not be able to communicate at the same time because of the time zone difference.
If an individual from India is trying to video-conference someone from the United States, then he will have to keep in mind the time zone difference for direct and effective communication.
One of the major causes of physical barriers is geographical distance. If the sender and receiver of the message are sitting at a far distance, then they will have to substitute personal communication with emails, messages, video-conferencing, or phone calls.
Geographical distance causes numerous obstacles to communication as greater distance means a greater need for more technical channels. Both the sender and receiver will need additional machines as mediums for encoding and decoding the message.
Technological advancements have made it possible to reduce the noise to a higher degree in the channels and mediums.
4. Technical problems
An essential cause of physical barriers in communication are technical problems. The channels and mediums of communication are influenced by the distance that must be covered and the disturbances that might arise on the way.
Technical and mechanical problems are common and can happen anytime. This is why only that medium should be chosen, which will have the least chatter and noise on that route.
Types of physical barriers in the workplace and methods of overcoming them
In an organization, physical barriers prevent the employees from interpreting the non-verbal cues, body language, gestures, and postures in an effective manner. Some of the significant physical barriers in an organization are
- Poor lighting
- Background noise
- Closed doors
- Broken equipment that is used as a communication tool
- Uncomfortable temperatures
- Old equipment used for communication
- Geographical distances between the sender and receiver of the messages
The numerous ways to overcome the physical barrier in a workplace are as follows-
1. Providing open office spaces
Closed workspace designs act as physical barriers as individuals have to take the help of emails or phones for proper communication. It also prevents taking orders, suggesting ideas, getting feedback, and making plans at the right time. The best way to overcome the physical barriers in an organization is by providing open office spaces.
This will remove visible barriers between the employees and promote direct and open communication. The open-concept offices are designed in such a way that they have proved effective in improving the workflow.
2. Send short and precise messages
Choose the correct words while sending digital messages or email so that the short message makes communication more valuable.
3. Personal communication
Face to face personal communication is one of the best ways to remove physical barriers of any form
4. Video conferencing
The concept of video conferencing is a crucial way to overcome physical barriers in an organization. It has helped the business entities in minimizing its reliance on traveling and boosting workforce collaboration.
5. Ignorance of medium
Signs and symbols are also part of communication that can convey thoughts and feelings quite easily. Ignorance of the medium through which a sender is sending the message can be a significant cause of physical barriers.
Physical barriers are aspects of an environment that makes it difficult to have proper communication. These are generally easy to spot and conquer. Remember, the best way to overcome physical barriers is through face-to-face communication.
This allows the individuals to put their onus on the tasks at hand in an effective manner.