Sender-centric Communication Barriers

Sender-centric barriers are the barriers that result from shortcomings at the sender’s end.

These may occur at any of the ‘pre-message delivery’ stages: ideation, preparation, or presentation of the message in the communication processOpens in new window.

There are fourteen different types of sender-centric barriers:

1.   Lack of interest

When the communicator (sender) is not interested in the subject-matter for which the message is based, communication is bound to be ineffective.

For example, if a chartered accountant who specializes in finance makes a presentation on marketing, the presentation is not likely to do justice to the topic.

2.   Overconfidence or under-confidence

Sometimes the sender is either overconfident or under-confident about the subject-matter of the message.

Both situations may be damaging to perfect communication, as an overconfident person may take the message too casually while an under-confident person might be overawed and not act properly.

3.   Lack of preparation

Very often, the lack of preparation results in communication breakdown. To achieve perfect communication, senders should:

4.   Over-qualification or under-qualification

It is important that the sender of the message is aptly qualified in the related field because neither an overqualified nor an under-qualified person can successfully strike a chord with the audience.

An overqualified person may tend to get carried away in the nitty-gritty of the subject matter, while an under-qualified person may try to get away with superficial information.

For example, a professor with a PhD who teaches at the post-graduate level may not be equally comfortable teaching the same topic to school-level students.

5.   Time deficit

In our world today, time is always at a premium and if the message’s sender compromises by not giving the required time for preparation or dissemination of the message, the receiver(s) may face problems.

For example, a manager presiding over a staff meeting in a conference room hastily scribbles the message, ‘Ask Mr Vineet to wait in my office’ (in illegible handwriting) on a piece of paper and passes it on to his secretary, which is misread as, ‘Ask Mr Vineet to wake in my office’, no sense can be made of it.

6.   Lack of language competency or linguistic deficiency

Language Opens in new window plays an important role in any inter-personal communication where both the sender and the receiver must be reasonably comfortable in the language used.

This is because in any communication process—oral or written, the sender(s) encodes(s) ideas, which the receiver(s) decode(s) to understand and give feedback accordingly.

Any lapse on either side may lead to a communication failure.

There are some points that the sender needs to keep in mind. They include:

6.1.   Grammar

The message, irrespective of the language, should be delivered using correct grammar with reference to syntaxOpens in new window, genderOpens in new window, time, and tenseOpens in new window. For instance, a sender referring to a male client as ‘she’ and vice versa might offend the client.

6.2.   Etymology

It is important to choose the right and easily comprehensible word and not choose difficult and too technical words as it is likely that the sender may attach different meanings to words because words have both denotativeOpens in new window and connotativeOpens in new window meaning.

Assessing a receiver’s vocabulary level can help a sender to choose the words that are in sync with the receiver’s comprehension ability.

If words are too difficult or too technical, the receiver may not understand them; at the same time if the words are too simple, the receiver might get bored.

6.3.   Syntactical

As we communicate our ideas not in words but in sentences, the message needs to be constructed with the correct syntax.

For instance, a sender referring to consumer durable says, ‘we produce high quality home appliances who can make your day-to-day chores enjoyable’.

This might amuse their audience who might wonder ‘whether home appliances are living or non-living’ and ‘whether chores can be enjoyable’.

6.4.   Non-verbal

Apart from the grammatical and syntactical aspects of verbal communication, the sender should also make sure that non-verbal communicationOpens in new window, including the body languageOpens in new window, is concordant with the verbal message.

For instance, a subordinate trying to calm down his angry boss says, ‘I have deep regard for you, sir. I genuinely apologize for the late submission of my sales report’, with chewing gum in his mouth and both his hands in the pockets of his trousers.

Here, the boss (the receiver of this message) is more likely to believe that the subordinate is deceptive and casual—based on the non-serious non-verbal cues than the sincere verbal message.

6.5.   Delivery mode

After ideation and preparation of the message. The delivery mode of the sender’s message is also important.

Message dissemination that is too fast or too slow (in case of oral delivery) or illegible (in case of written messages) does not produce the desired results.

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7.   Inappropriate audience (receiver) analysis

Analyzing one’s audience (receiver) is the first and fundamental step in planning communication. This is paramount in any interpersonal communication.

In fact, it is very important to understand the audience’s background and preferences, and their expectations from the communication. This greatly influences the outcome of any communication.

To effectively analyze an audience, these crucial factors must be considered:

Only after considering all these factors can a profile of the intended audience be created, allowing the sender to communicate in a manner that is understood by the audience.

8.   Lack of emotional intelligence quotient (EQ)

Our emotions are the primary source of our energy, aspirations and impelling force. Emotional intelligence (EI) Opens in new window helps in understanding and exploring our own as well as others’ emotions in response to different situations, whether it is pleasant or unpleasant.

With emotional intelligence, we are able to weigh situations, understand others’ feelings resulting from those situations.

EI also enhances the management of our own emotions in tandem with the situation and makes us get along with each other in a conducive and productive manner.

The lack of EI may make us insensitive or hypersensitive to others’ emotions and states of mind. For example, a manager trying to console his subordinate on death of his only son in a car accident says, ‘Don’t worry, every loss opens doors for new opportunities’, shows insensitivity towards others’ feelings and emotions.

9.   Lack of social intelligence (SI)

Social intelligence is the human capacity to understand what is happening in the outer world; how it affects one’s inner self; and how one should respond to it in a socially acceptable manner. It is our ability to get along well with others and to get them to co-operate, or, at least, not compete with us.

Social intelligence Opens in new window involves our awareness of situations and the social dynamics that govern them, our insight into our own perceptions and reaction patterns aided by our precise knowledge of communication styles and strategies which help us achieve our objectives.

In short, social intelligence encompasses the whole range of our relationship with other humans and with the world in general. The lack of it would mean living in an alienated world where no one bothers about anyone.

10.   Lack of cross-cultural intelligence (CCI)

Every single culture Opens in new window differs widely from other cultures in a number of ways, such as in the tempo of cultural change, the dimension of their influence, the degree of their complexity, and the extent of their tolerance towards outsiders.

Cross-cultural intelligence (CCI) Opens in new window is all about understanding one’s own as well as others’ cultures.

This intelligence is based on the clear understanding of, firstly our own self, our culture, then of people around us, and their culture.

It helps us in recognizing others’ cultural diversity; respecting those diversities in their context and congenially reconciling with their diversities to ensure the best outcome from any cross-cultural transactions.

The lack of CCI may be due to ethnocentrism, a human tendency to judge all other groups according to one’s own group’s standards, behaviour, and customs.

Our ethnocentrism Opens in new window measures the extent to which we are judgmental of other cultures and are unwilling or unable to implement culturally relevant solutions. Our ethnocentrism can also be a critical barrier to our cross-cultural communication.

Oftentimes, ethnocentric people use culture-based stereotypes, do not adapt their working style and are not open to incorporating information and customs from other cultures. This is hazardous not only to the individual’s success at the workplace but also to organizational growth.

11.   Lack of credibility or reputation

Credibility is the level of trust, reliability, and sincerity that an individual brings to a situation. Credibility, both of the content and the person (sender as well as receiver) is a prerequisite to any successful communication.

It is credibility that makes the message or the sender worthy of consideration. Likewise, the sender’s reputation, if high, makes the message more reliable, but if it is low, it makes the message dubious in the eyes of the receiver(s).

If the credibility of the sender or the message is questioned, the quality of the receiver’s understanding, acceptance and response tends to get reduced. For example, a physiotherapist’s advice on physical fitness is likely to be taken more seriously than the one given by a lawyer.

12.   Lack of respect towards the receiver(s) of the message

Like credibility, mutual respect between the sender and the receiver is important for a successful communication. This mutual respect allows each party to invest time in speaking/listening to the other party.

13.   Lack of right attitude/collaborative effort

For a successful communication, it is important that the sender does away with the attitude of I-viewpoint, a lop-sided self-centric approach devoid of empathy and respect to others and switch to You-viewpoint, a balanced, empathetic and respectful receiver-centric approach.

The You-viewpoint (also called ‘You-attitude’) simply means that the sender (the initiator of communication) gives primary consideration to receiver’s point of view when composing and sending messages. Learn more hereOpens in new window!

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14.   Incorrect selection of the channel of communication

It is important to select the correct channelOpens in new window to suit the message type. A message possessing valid content but delivered through a wrong channel may not get the results it would have otherwise got.

Even with a reliable sender, a comprehensible and credible message would fall flat if a wrong channel is selected.

For instance, an oral face-to-face communication is preferable to a written one—a text message, e-mail—if the sender wants to congratulate a colleague on the latter’s recent promotion.

In this way the sender would not only be expressing greater depth of feeling through the verbal message, but would also be able to complement it with the affectionate non-verbal cues.