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Physiological Barriers, Physical Barriers, Cultural Barriers, Language Barriers to communication

Physiological barriers to communication, Physical barriers to communication, Cultural barriers to communication, Language barriers to communication.

Physiological barriers to communication

People have emotional and mental limitations that cause psychological barriers. Due to these barriers, people are absent-minded, afraid to express their ideas, exasperated, and emotionally unstable, all of which contribute to communication issues.

The reason for this is the way your mind works and how it affects how you behave. A message will be challenging to listen to if you are upset, for example. In the context of organizational communication, emotional needs and feelings are the primary barriers where both interactants -- the sender as well as the receiver -- may be affected.

Psychological barriers can take the following forms:

False assumptions

Senders can cause communication breakdown by assuming the receiver understood what they communicated; however, the recipient may only have understood some of what was said or did not understand at all; both are possible causes of communication breakdown. It is often the experience of the sender that shapes the capacity to understand, and no two individuals are alike in this regard. A sender's assumption that the recipient knows how to follow instructions or knows how to do something is often wrong and misleading. On the other hand, the receiver may also want to be understood a certain way and lead the sender astray by making false assumptions. If a quality control manager wants to prevent false beliefs, he or she should at first check whether the employees are aware of Six Sigma standards and then proceed to point out any non-adherence.


A person's emotional state can adversely affect their ability to communicate. Senders who are angry when they send a message will cause the receiver to interpret the message differently. The sender may seem aggressive or inaccessible in some cases. It is possible that the recipient might perceive the news in a different way if he or she feels threatened or scared.

Attitudes and values

It can either negatively or positively influence your communication process, depending on your attitude. You are likely to react emotionally if any of your beliefs are threatened rather than listening attentively. When the sender of a message has a positive attitude, the receiver is more likely to take action as they are persuaded by their attitude. In the event that the sender has a negative attitude toward receiving the request, the receiver will probably not follow the terms.

Negative self-image

The sender, as well as the receiver's self-image, can negatively affect their communication, resulting in a breakdown of communication. In case the message is sent by someone with a negative image of himself or herself, the message may not be delivered appropriately. If the message lacks conviction and force, it may be less effective. When one receives a message and has a poor self-image or lacks self-confidence, one might be fearful of what they hear, judging themselves as unintelligent.

Fear and defensiveness

With melodramatic words and gestures, when a sender is scared or defensive about a subject matter, the sender may alienate those who are receiving the communication by going too far in communicating. In the stead of accepting responsibility for the mistake, the sender may try to justify their actions or deny it altogether, leading to further miscommunication. The sender may also lose credibility with the recipient(s) by engaging in such defensive behavior. In the same way, a fearful receiver may not understand what is being said, resulting in a loss of listening skills, which may lead to worse mistakes in the future.

Implications and inferences

When a communicator implies something, the receiver may interpret the meaning differently than the communicator intended. People who claim that their work is not valued may mean that they do not receive enough positive feedback from their supervisors. The receiver may, however, infer from the message without specific details that the speaker feels his salary isn't enough. There may be a good reason to expect that our conclusions will be accurate, but they may turn out to be incorrect as a result of unexpected circumstances. A statement might be misinterpreted if it is drawn from inferences that go beyond the facts. Symbols are interpreted according to assumptions that are usually true but occasionally have the possibility of being incorrect.

The premature evaluation also refers to this type of inference in which the receiver makes an assumption without genuinely understanding the context. The sender should always specify the language they use, and the recipient should ask questions to clarify the meaning.


Language is one of the ways we express our feelings and experiences, but we are less likely to communicate every detail because we tend to focus on just a few. Our business reports are prepared based on our observations of market events, presenting only the information that is relevant. There will be errors in our statements. Our experience of the event would also not be complete, so communication would also be imperfect.

In trying to represent our observations and experiences in words, we further abstract our experiences by choosing the right words, which leave out some of the specifics. When we attempt to describe an object completely, as is the case with a shoe, several volumes are required, which still would not fill the void.

Close mind-ness, overconfidence, and apathy

There are times when people assume that they know everything about a topic and are not open to receiving new information. This, in turn, prevents them from accepting new information, facts, and suggestions. A person who displays overconfidence may be in this state of mind. If an employee approaches the boss with directions about how to improve the work of their department, the boss may reply that he is an expert in the field or that he has been doing it since 1967, so he already has all the know-how in his head.

There could be no new things to learn from a rookie!'’ Thus, even before he knows the real facts behind the communication, he rejects its information and recommendations.

People who are closed-minded will not be open to learning new ideas. The best approach to communication involves humility and a willingness to learn since little can be known about any particular field. On the other end of the spectrum is an apathetic sender or receiver who creates a barrier because they have no interest in what they are sending or receiving.

Communication breaks down due to apathy, which prevents effective listening. The reason an apathetic speaker may miss essential points is that they do not relate information well.

Distortion, filtering, and editing

By translating, interpreting, explaining, and simplifying a message, the original meaning is distorted. Translations and simplifications distort the meaning of the message and result in imperfect transmission. In this case, the sender manipulated the information so as to appear more favorable to the receiver in order to achieve their own outcomes. In organizations with solid career mobility goals and a focus on status differences, this occurs most frequently. There is also more distortion and filtering of upward communication where there are higher levels. Another reason for distortion is the grapevine. Every time the grapevine message is repeated, it receives a new addition. Because of this, in many cases, information originally received orally through formal and informal channels ends up distorted. It is sometimes only a small portion that is retained. When communicating important information, written communication can reduce distortions and misunderstandings.

Other factors in physiological barriers are – poor listening, emotions, and information overload.

Physical barriers to communication

Generally speaking, a physical barrier to communication is something that acts as a distraction, hindering communications. Physical barriers can be natural or man-made and can be easily spotted. It is easy to block someone's hearing with noise, bad architecture, or shut doors. Even a disturbance in the network caused by a thunderstorm may be viewed as a physical barrier.

Factors responsible for creating the physical barriers are mentioned below as:

There are a number of factors that can create physical barriers, including the environment, the distance between people, and time differences. When these factors negatively impact productivity, the company's executives must be able to identify them quickly. We will examine the following causes of physical barriers:

Workplace architecture

Physical barriers can be created by poorly designed workplaces. When employees sit far away from their seniors or on different floors, it's hard to communicate. Teams are impeded by confined spaces and guarded areas. Such places rely on emails and phone calls for communication, which causes noise and distortion. Communication becomes difficult, and accessibility is compromised. Poor lighting, uncomfortable chairs, and glaring screens all contribute to the creation of physical barriers at work.


Physical barriers are often caused by geographical distance. By replacing personal communication with messages, video calls, or emails, interrupts personal touch. Communication over long distances can be complicated by network problems and poor reception, or slow internet. Printing documents on paper is time-consuming and can prolong contact.


Having different time zones, combined with a limited number of time zones, can create an obvious barrier between two people. In the event that time is limited, the sender should send a concise message to the recipient. By doing this, it is possible to convey crucial information even when a detailed conversation is not available. Communication of pertinent information in administrative messages is the responsibility of the executives. Organizations with multiple time zones need to work together to communicate effectively. Due to the significant difference in time between England and India, a video conference needs to occur at a time that suits both parties.


Information can flow differently depending on how the environment is. Thunder can cause a disturbance that interferes with hearing. During lightning storms and heavy rains, mainframes and signals can be affected. In addition, heat can start fires that can damage wires and cause major problems. Similarly, cold temperatures can interrupt communication as lines can freeze and open components become inoperative.

Technical disturbances

Disturbances in mediums or technical problems are major causes of physical barriers. Using technology can enable communication to be established at any time and from any distance, but technical issues can occur at any time. Having a faulty phone will make noise or reduce volume; having a faulty fax machine will stop incoming messages; having a defective printer will prevent hard copies of data from being saved; and finally, a system crash will wipe out all the protected information.

Examples of physical barriers can be noise, excessive information, and distortion.

Cultural barriers to communication

Cultural practices encompass patterns of behavior, customs, beliefs, rituals, ceremonies, laws, ideas, social institutions, religious beliefs, mythologies, concepts of self, thinking patterns, arts, tools, and ethical guidelines. Every person lives, does things, feels, and acts differently. Identities are formed through these particular practices. They are the ways we are culturally identified.

A culture is a mutually defined set of social perceptions with coordinated action and meaning, as well as a cultural variance. Diverse forms of communication and different manners of communicating can contribute to cultural diversity. People from different cultures and historical periods think and communicate differently from each other. Communication is usually hindered by a cultural barrier when it occurs between two groups of people from different cultural backgrounds. Throughout life, we face cultural barriers. Nowadays, with globalization and digital media, people from all over the world perform and participate on one platform. Communicators need to have mutual understandings in order to make their communication an effective, fruitful one.

Here are some of the sources for cultural barriers in communication:

Language (semantic): In cross-cultural communication, language is considered the most critical barrier. Every context involves verbal communication, which means understanding the meaning of words is equally important. Differences in language are not the only reason for the language barrier, as dialects also play a role. Several dialects of the Chinese and Russian languages are spoken in different parts of the country where different dialects exist. Unless one communicator knows the exact meaning, there will be miscommunications and a conflict of ideas.

Cultural norms and values: Various cultures have their own values, meanings, and norms. Truth, belief, and judgment are the factors causing the difference. They gained knowledge about society and culture through these factors. Physical proximity means something different in eastern countries such as India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka than it does in western countries. Physical proximity, or closeness, occurs only between people who are known to one another. In western countries, public transportation is characterized by a peaceful and quiet atmosphere. Contrary to this, the suburban and metro rail systems in India are packed with people.

Stereotypes: A stereotypical image or preconceived notion about a particular community or identity is a stereotypical image. The mass media creates them with their content agenda. Transgender people are regarded differently in different cultures, for instance, based on different standards. Similarly, culture also varies in terms of the role and respect of women. A positive stereotype is also considered the cultural barrier from a social psychological viewpoint. Essentially, it depicts a specific group of people or culture in a positive light. It may not reflect the truth. Positive stereotypes are frames of reference that people hold in their minds. People in Italy are thought to have a great passion for art, for example. As Italy underwent many art movements throughout the ages, this may be true to some extent. The reality may seem far away to a foreigner visiting Italy and interacting with the Italians from that perspective.

Values and beliefs: Values and beliefs differ between cultures, which creates an additional barrier to communication. For instance, the levels of acceptability in cultures are different. Religious or political beliefs, as well as epistemological beliefs, are responsible for these. As Rokeach defines it in his book "The Nature of Human Values (1979), a value is a belief that is part of one's total belief system. A value can be defined as a characteristic of an individual. Values may be implicitly (inferred from nonverbal behavior) or explicitly (stated in a value judgment) expressed by a person, and they can be perceived as an individual trait or as a part of a cultural pattern. People practice various religions in every country. Consequently, cultural barriers are also caused by their differing values and beliefs.

Body language and gestures: Gestures and body language are also factors in cultural barriers. Communication would be impossible without these elements. Both serve as explanations and justifications for communication. For conservative societies such as Arabs and Africans, greeting the opposite gender with a handshake or hug is considered ill-mannerly or even immoral. Westerners are accustomed to shaking hands with people when we meet them.

Language barriers to communication

Any form of communication requires language, even those with speech impairments communicate with brail and sign language. Situations in which people do not understand each other's language make communication tough. A language barrier is a communication barrier that prevents a person from communicating using that language. Most communication barriers that cause miscommunications and misunderstandings involve language barriers.

In most countries, English is not the native language or, if it is, it is their second or third language. The meaning of communication when the speaker and receiver are speaking different languages is lost. A message cannot be conveyed in words used that are not those the other person understands.

Main causes of language barriers:

Differences in languages

Language differences usually hinder communication because two people speaking two different languages will be unable to understand one another. Consider an American visiting China. Most Chinese people do not understand English and do not understand Chinese. As a result, when the speaker speaks, the communication is worthless due to the other Chinese individual's lack of understanding.

The accents and dialects (use of words) of people living in different places may differ even if they speak the same language. It is true that people with different dialects and accents speak the same language in theory, but the meaning, implications, and interpretation of words may vary, and this may lead to various conflicts. Even though both people speak English, a Scottish farmer cannot understand most of the words said by a Londoner. In Scotland, the words ham and bacon can be interchanged, but they have different meanings in England. In pidgin, people who don't speak the same language communicate in a simplified way. Misunderstandings can occur when words and phrases are used.

Laugh Out Loud, the abbreviation formerly used in chat language to represent Lots of Love, replaced LOL. LOL means whatever the second person wants it to mean or from their understanding. Each abbreviation is used according to its context and function.

No clear speech

It is impossible to understand people who speak softly or in a small voice. In some cases, the sender may be referring to one thing while the receiver may be referring to another. The meaning of the message and the feedback might be difficult to understand despite speaking the same language. Communication can also be hampered by this.

Use of jargons and slangs

Jargon is a technical term used to communicate. Depending on the profession, specialty, and technical field of an individual, the salary may vary. Depending on the profession, specialty, and technical field of an individual, the salary may vary. Unless they started talking, they wouldn't be able to understand each other. A language barrier may result from specific jargon used only by people in related professions, such as adjournment (term used by lawyers and police for delaying a defendant's trial), BP (medical jargon for blood pressure), etc. Also, slang is not effective in communicating. The use of the word "grass" to describe marijuana, for example, can act as a barrier for those without a clue as to what the slang word means.

Word choices

Communication must be centered on choosing the right words to describe anything. An individual who uses sarcasm to show their agreement on something is negative. You should always avoid words with multiple meanings, homonyms, homographs, and homophones since they don't convey the intended message and can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Therefore, the message will not be received as intended, thereby creating a language barrier between the two parties.

Literacy and linguistic ability

In some languages, people have very little vocabulary, while in others, they have a large vocabulary. While literacy and education are important factors for learning new words, they are not the only reasons. People can also increase their vocabulary by reading and learning about things they find interesting. A person's vocabulary is also reduced if they use the language for unofficial purposes. An individual's linguistic ability is proficiency in a particular language. People with high vocabulary and linguistic ability may fail to understand words used by other people with low ability, resulting in miscommunication of the whole message.

Grammar and spelling

Language barriers arise from grammar and spelling differences between people from different parts of the world, even within the same word. Grammar and spelling errors in written communication create an even greater communication barrier. One example would be typing don instead of done. As don is also a correct word, it is not marked as wrong by the computer's spell-checker. In some cases, however, the word can make the sentence unintelligible or change the whole meaning. Communication barriers are caused by this type of misspelling. As well as language disabilities, sound, distance, or metaphors and similes, there are more causes, such as physical and physiological limitations. Depending on the barrier, a person can overcome some of them with practice or with other methods such as translation, interpreter, language classes, visual methods, etc., whereas some barriers cause problems throughout a person's life. Communication cannot be effective with these barriers present.
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Ankur Choudhary is India's first professional pharmaceutical blogger, author and founder of Pharmaceutical Guidelines, a widely-read pharmaceutical blog since 2008. Sign-up for the free email updates for your daily dose of pharmaceutical tips.
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