As a business owner, you need to be able to communicate effectively. This requires that you understand how to listen effectively. However, there are several common barriers to communication that you should be aware of.

Protecting Yourself

You had probably had times when you were in a conversation with someone you thought was attacking you. Your barriers probably immediately rose, and your focus turned to what you could do to defend or protect yourself. The problem is that you turned your attention away from what the person was saying.

You may have also had experiences where you see only the negatives. In these cases, no one could convince you that anything positive came out of the situation. You likely become emotional when you think or talk about your experience.

Evaluating the Content

Have you ever been part of a conversation where the person speaking only considers their perspective? This can be frustrating, but it is a common challenge to effective communication. This evaluation takes the focus off what is being said and places it on the listener’s perspective. Often, this leads to the listener missing critical information or a type of verbal war where the participants consistently counter each other’s comments. The goal of understanding is replaced by being in the right, resulting in an argument.

Judging the Person or Content

When you disagree with what someone is saying or what they do, it is easy to drop judgment. However, you should avoid judging, condemning, criticizing, or disagreeing with a person just because of what they say or do. This can cause others to avoid communicating with you out of fear that they will be put down. You could lose valuable perspectives and ideas through this type of communication.

Making Assumptions

Have you ever been in a conversation when you know what the person will say or is trying to say? This is assumptive listening. Instead of focusing on what the person is saying, it is easy to assume their point and create your response based on your assumption. Although you have a history with that person, you may not truly understand their point unless you listen to their words. Avoid “helping” them get to the point and let these individuals say what they need to.

The best defense against these communication barriers is to set aside your thoughts and feelings and just listen. Effective listening takes work, but it will significantly improve your ability to communicate with your staff.