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Speaking and communication barriers

Speaking and communication barriers

If you search for the definition of speaking or language barrier you will find something as follows: challenges faced by people or groups speaking different languages and dialects. Moreover, language barriers include misunderstandings and misinterpretations that come from a lack of clarity of thought and speech. Such barriers can be found across verbal, non-verbal and written types of communication.

While focusing on eliminating linguistic barriers (learning vocabulary and grammar) you might be missing on the whole layer of communication elements.

When I studied translation in my BA, I had a terrible speaking barrier, which, of course, made my teachers think I was lazy and not studying enough. Now working with my clients I can relate to some of their speaking barriers thanks to this experience; I know for a fact that your successful communication in English (or other languages you learn) needs more than standard boring language learning.

There are many barriers to communication and I’m going to share with you some of those we can categorize as intrapersonal barriers.

Now you have a wonderful opportunity to become aware of and maybe decide to work through emotional, psychological and cognitive barriers to improve your communication.

Interested? Continue reading!



The way we use language will vary depending on our personality (shy or outgoing) and our shifting states (anxiety, boredom, enthusiasm). Emotions are an inseparable component of language.
When we are present and grounded, relaxed and well, our communication flows. However, an emotionally excited communicator who is not in control but under influence of his emotions, is unable to organize his message properly. He expresses his blurred thoughts with gesticulation and keeps on repeating the same words. Anyone who comes across such an irritated person becomes a victim of his unfocused emotions. The confused and agitated state of mind never allows smooth flow of communication.

Question to ponder: remember, what emotions do you usually feel when speaking English (or other foreign languages)? How may it affect your communication?

The receiver on the other side will struggle to decode the underlying message and if we imagine that she also might be experiencing emotions that hinder understanding (like being upset, fearful, apathetic or shocked – these states can significantly reduce comprehension clarity), we may assume communication would be highly ineffective.

Listening skill.


Poor listening – is one of the most common challenges of communication. I’m convinced that we could live in a much more exciting world without conflicts and misunderstanding if we cherished and developed this skill.
Most people do not listen very well due to various distractions, emotions, excitement, indifference, aggressiveness and wandering attention.
One of the major reasons for bad listening is an individual’s continual thinking about his own problems and worries. The poor listener always feels that the thought in his mind is more interesting than what the speaker is saying.

False assumptions.


Our capacity to understand is based on our experience, the sender may assume that the receiver understands the message. However, we know that everyone is unique and there are no two identical human experiences.
Another way assumptions may interfere with communication is by receiver assuming she understands what the sender means and jumping into conclusions (see Listening skill above).

Attitudes and values.


An attitude is a pre-learned disposition (frame of mind) and can be linked closely to a person’s belief and value systems. Our pre-disposition will affect the communication and grounded and positive attitude proves to be absolutely best for successful communication; however, our emotions may interfere with communication if our values are threatened.
Becoming aware of your values system and practicing critical thinking to challenge your beliefs are necessary work for a good communicator.

The last but not least.

Negative self-image.


Negative self-image can affect both the sender and the receiver in the communication process, leading to communication breakdown. If the sender has a negative self-image, she might lack confidence, force and assertiveness in her communication. Likewise, if someone on the receiving end has a poor self-image, she might have fears about not being able to understand the message.

Question to ponder: can you remember a situation when the above-mentioned barriers impaired your communication experience?

Working on your foreign languages keep in mind that communication includes many aspects and not all of them are linguistic. You don’t need to strive for the perfect language level to be a splendid communicator. With self-awareness and self-observation we can drastically improve communication and, as a result, important personal and professional relationships and get more confidence in expressing our thoughts in a foreign language.

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