CommunicationProject ManagementSocial Interactions

3 Kinds of Communication Noise and How to Overcome Them

Sometimes, we talk to friends and colleagues and distractions get in the way. Indeed, communications don’t always occur in a smooth process where the sender transmits a message, and the receiver interprets or responds to it exactly as the sender expects. Noise, both in physical and intangible forms, hinders communication and creates misunderstanding or false perception. In a guest post for A Girl’s Guide to Project Management, John Edmonds talks about three different kinds of communication noise:

  1. Physical noise: noisy rooms, traffic, other conversations, and so on
  2. Psychological noise: stereotypes, reputations, and assumptions that form our bias
  3. Semantic noise: grammar or technical language errors that prevent the receiver from understanding a message clearly

Listen to Communicate

There is a big difference between hearing and listening. Hearing means being able to recognize sounds and vibrations, while listening is communicating mindfully, being understanding of the other’s emotional state, and taking into account the context of communication.

When we communicate with other people, it is inevitable to encounter stereotypes or language barriers that impede us from interpreting the message correctly and objectively. However, this can be improved through increased awareness of the differences among us and others who communicate. We should try to take in and understand a new perspective or opinion, but still simultaneously process and have our own judgment of the level of truthfulness and morality in the conversation. Equally important, don’t show off your rich vocab through jargon or sophisticated sentences. Not everyone is an English professor who will understand your fancy language.

Edmonds also suggests a few more tips for effective communication:

  • The length of our messages, are they long and rambling? Remember, less is more!
  • Our grammar. Mistakes can be so distracting
  • Too much information. Often we overdo the facts and forget to engage the emotion
  • Unexplained technical language. Do not assume knowledge!

So, if you care about your communications with stakeholders, consider where there might be noise in the communication process and then take steps to reduce or eliminate it wherever you can, bearing in mind the principle ‘Seek first to understand, then be understood’.

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