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Communication is the bedrock of any successful organisation or relationship. 

Sometimes, it’s too easy to take communication for granted – we can forget that, like any other skill, this is something we need to be aware of, and practice. 

This is particularly true when we need our communication to be impactful, as is often the case in professional environments.

But what happens when you confront workplace communication barriers that force you to reassess your communication skills? 

Communicating with Impact: What Does it Even Mean?

Fundamentally, communicating with impact means delivering your message in such a way that it influences, inspires, and engages your audience, prompting a specific response or action. 

Communicating with impact involves some of the following aspects:

Body Language and Cues

Impactful communication revolves around both speech and body language. 

Albert Mehrabian, a pioneer in body language research, famously cited that only 7% of a message is conveyed through words, while 38% is transmitted through tone of voice and 55% through body language.

The Role of Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman, a well-known psychologist and author, emphasised the role of emotional intelligence in effective communication. 

He pointed out that understanding the emotional aspects of conversation is key to effective communication. 

This involves empathy and self-awareness, which are crucial in building rapport and trust with your audience.

Offering a Clear Message

In her article “The Science of What Makes People Care”, Ann Christiano, a professor at the University of Florida, stresses the importance of clarity in impactful communication.

She notes that messages should be clear, relatable, and framed to connect with the audience’s values and beliefs. Focus on ensuring your communication is clear and can be understood – it’s fundamental. 

The Importance of Listening

Communicating with impact also requires active listening. In team scenarios especially, everyone’s views and ideas should be heard equally. This is crucial to building high-performing teams.

Harvard Business Review research demonstrates that great listeners create a safe environment for open and honest communication, which is crucial for building relationships and ensuring that your message is understood as intended.

The Common Barriers to Workplace Communication

Now, how do you put all these pieces together in the face of communication barriers?

You might experience this when you start a new job, if your team is swapped around by higher management, or new team members join your team or department, etc. Communication barriers are there to be overcome and should be seen as an opportunity for growth. 

Challenge 1: Cultural and Linguistic Differences

Workforce diversity has become a significant asset, bringing together perspectives, skills, and experiences. Forbes revealed in 2022 that diverse teams deliver 60% better results with superior decision-making in 87% of situations. 

This isn’t so much a challenge, but an opportunity to build a team that integrates a multiplicity of views and perspectives.

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Diversity is a strength, and linguistic or cultural challenges can be rectified to channel that.

Leaders have to be mindful of how to channel diverse teams and establish effective forms of communication so ideas can be transmitted effectively. 

This also involves building teams with high psychological safety, where individuals feel safe to reflect the true version of themself in their contributions.

The Solution

Overcoming these communication hurdles begins with fostering an inclusive culture that celebrates diversity. 

This involves more than just acknowledging the differences; it requires active efforts to integrate inclusivity into every aspect of the workplace. Here are a few strategies to consider:

  1. Inclusive Communication Practices: Adopt communication practices that are inclusive and considerate of all team members. This can involve simple measures like avoiding jargon, being mindful of time zones when scheduling meetings, and using clear and concise language.
  2. Encourage Open Dialogue: Create a safe space for employees to voice their concerns, share their experiences, and provide feedback on how the organisation can become more inclusive.
  3. Regular Team Building Activities: Engage in team building activities that are designed to foster understanding, trust, and camaraderie among team members. Ensure that these activities are inclusive and accessible to everyone.
  4. Mentorship and Support Networks: Establish mentorship programs and support networks that help in bridging gaps between diverse groups within the workplace.

Barrier 2: Emotional Barriers

Personal feelings, biases, and strong emotions can hinder effective communication. In some cases, emotional tension can cloud judgement, lead to misinterpretations, and even create conflict. Emotional and cognitive barriers can become more pronounced in high-stress environments or situations with disagreements. 

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Workplace stress can hinder communication if left unmanaged.

Again, this relates to principles of psychological safety, where teams work to resolve stress and tension amicably rather than letting it affect their personal relationships. 

The Solution

Fostering a culture of open-mindedness and empathy is key. Encourage your team to approach conversations with an open heart and mind, setting aside personal feelings and biases. 

Implementing regular feedback sessions and promoting active listening can also help break down these barriers, ensuring that communication flows smoothly. 

Learn more about how to create a psychologically safe environment here.

Barrier 3: Barrier 3: Hierarchical and Organisational Barriers

Hierarchical structures within organisations can create significant barriers to effective communication. When there are multiple levels of hierarchy, information can get distorted as it travels up or down the chain of command. 

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Business hierarchies vary from business to business. Be mindful of when they could encumber team communication and success.

Employees may feel intimidated or reluctant to share their thoughts and feedback with higher-ups, leading to a lack of transparency and missed opportunities for collaboration. 

This can create an environment where slow decision-making and innovation are stifled.

The Solution

Flattening the organisational structure can help alleviate these issues, fostering a more open and collaborative environment. 

This has become far more common in recent years – we’ve even seen examples of CEOs cutting their salaries and voluntarily giving up their company equity to level the playing field for employees. 

Additionally, leaders should encourage open communication channels where employees at all levels feel comfortable sharing their ideas and feedback.

Implementing cross-functional teams can also break down silos, promoting a free exchange of information between departments. 

Regular team-building activities and informal gatherings can further break down hierarchical barriers, fostering stronger relationships and improving communication across all levels of the organisation.

Strategies to Enhance Communication Impact

Effective communication is the cornerstone of building strong relationships and achieving success in the workplace. 

However, achieving this requires more than just conveying a message – it’s about ensuring it is received, understood, and remembered. 

Here are some crucial strategies to enhance the impact of your communication:

1. Active Listening

Active listening involves fully focusing on, understanding, responding to, and remembering what a person is saying. It’s a multi-faceted process that requires attention to verbal and non-verbal cues. 

2. Feedback Mechanisms

Feedback is crucial for ensuring your message is received and understood as intended.

It establishes a two-way communication channel that encourages open dialogue and continuous improvement. Scientific studies show that well-executed feedback positively affects job performance and satisfaction.

3. Visual Aids

Visual aids such as graphs, charts, and videos can convey complex ideas quickly and effectively. They capture attention and aid memory retention.

According to the Social Science Research Network, 65% of people are visual learners, highlighting the importance of visuals in communication.

Summary: Communicating With Impact: How To Overcome Communication Barriers

Enhancing the impact of your communication requires a conscious effort and a strategic approach.

By practising active listening, establishing feedback mechanisms, utilising visual aids, and tailoring your communication to your audience, you ensure that your message reaches its destination and leaves a lasting impact. 

These strategies are essential in your communication toolkit, helping you build stronger relationships, foster trust, and succeed professionally.

Inner Leader’s leadership development and team development training will help you build a strong personal communication framework, helping you and your team communicate with impact even in stressful, fast-paced environments.

Communicating With Impact FAQ

What Does it Mean to Communicate with Impact?

Communicating with impact means conveying your message in a way that resonates with your audience, captures their attention, and influences their thoughts or actions. 

It’s about making a lasting impression and ensuring your message is heard, understood, remembered, and acted upon. 

Impactful communication goes beyond words; it encompasses your tone of voice, body language, and how you tailor your message to meet the needs of your audience.

How do you Communicate With Impact and Clarity?

To communicate with both impact and clarity, you need to:

  • Know Your Audience: Understand their needs, preferences, and level of knowledge about the topic.
  • Craft a Clear Message: Ensure your message is concise, focused, and jargon-free.
  • Use Strong Opening and Closing Statements: Grab attention from the start and leave a lasting impression at the end.
  • Employ a Confident Tone and Body Language: Convey confidence and authenticity through your voice and gestures.
  • Practise Active Listening: Show genuine interest in the audience’s response and be ready to adjust your message accordingly.

What are the Three Tools for Impactful Communication?

Three tools for impactful communication include:

  1. Storytelling: Using narrative techniques to convey your message.
  2. Non-Verbal Cues: Utilising body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice to reinforce your words.
  3. Audience Engagement: Creating interactive opportunities and encouraging participation to maintain interest and ensure understanding.

What are the 5 Stages of Communication Impact?

  1. Attention: Capturing the audience’s interest and focus.
  2. Understanding: Ensuring that your message is clear and comprehensible.
  3. Retention: Helping the audience to remember the key points of your message.
  4. Action: Encouraging the audience to take the desired action or to think in a new way.
  5. Reflection: Provide opportunities for the audience to reflect on and further internalise the message.

What is Communicating With Impact to Influence Others?

Communicating with impact to influence others involves crafting and delivering your message so that it sways opinions, changes behaviours, or inspires action. 

It requires a deep understanding of your audience, a clear and compelling message, and the use of persuasive techniques that resonate on an emotional level. It’s about creating a connection, building trust, and demonstrating credibility, all essential for exerting influence.