Life Skills Development/Module Three/Barriers

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Each learner is different, sometimes what is being taught may not be of interest to everylearner, why? each learner comes from a different background, with their own values as influenced by physical or cultural context. It is important that you are aware of these differences as they may hinder comunication process involving a person from a different background. These hindrance are called barriers.To help you recognize and prevent these hindrances or barriers to communication, see the following.


Learners should be able to:

  1. define "Barriers to Communication"
  2. identify and discuss various factors which hinder the process of effective communication.
  3. categorize barriers to Communication into groups.
  4. identify skills needed to overcome barriers which impede the communication process
  5. demonstrate the skills required to conquer those barriers during communication


1.Barriers to Communication - forms or factors which prevent communication from taking place

2.Hindrances - cultural, physical, mental or emotional barriers which impede the effective flow of communication

3.Diversity - variety or range of characteristics

4.Context - situation / framework or circumstance in which communication occurs

5.Prejudice - bias, preconceived notion / conclusion

6.Connotative - special meaning attached to word or phrase by a specific group

7.Linguistic - different language

8.Perceptual - viewing what was said from one's own perception or point of view


Barriers to Communication includes a range of physical, mental or emotional hindrances which can prevent messages from being passed on successfully between sender and receiver during the process of communication. Examples of these barriers include language,physical, emotinal, mental, cultural, situational, contextual and experiential. Recognition of these barriers will facilitate selections of appropriate techniques or strategies that are needed for overcoming them and or for making improvement in the process.

Physical Barriers

Physical barriers concerns with ranges of hindrance or obstruction that might occur anywhere along the channel/line of communication beginning from the sender to the reciever to block off of the actual intention of the message. These physical barriers may include physical object, noise from a passing trafic, disruptions such as two people talking as the same time, distance from which the call is made from, mechanical or technical faults or amfuctions, feeling unwell like being too sick or stressout or secondary or third person relaying the message.

Mental and Emotional Barriers

The mental, emotional, psychological state of the learner may also affect the way the message is conveyed or interpreted. These situations may result from:

  1. emotional stress
  2. anger
  3. depression or sadness
  4. too much informations or too little or inaccuracy of information
  5. a distorted and subjective focus in your message
  6. lnsecurity or lack of confidence
  7. difficult personalities you may encounter

Cultural Differences

As a learner from a different origin, your interaction with your group may impact how you communicate due to the difference in cultural and social class or sub-groups. Awareness of the customs, values and traditional beliefs of the group is very important as these may affect the success of your intended communication with them. There can be personal biases, social prejudices based on political, ethnic and religious beliefs and generalized perceptions and stereotyping others.

Language Barriers

As a learner it is of paramount importance that you make it your responsibility to accommodate language differences and find a common ground within which the group can learn. Some words can have more than one meaning given the specific contextin which it is being used. Some learners language for learning may be his/her own language or even be a second language of learning e.g. English, French. Use of incorrect terminologies or mis-spelt words may lead to incorrect conveying of information.

Contextual Barrier

The context in which words are used by one person may be different from the context in which such words are used by another. These could be influenced by morals, values or culture among other things.

Experiential Barrier

An individuals prior experiences in encountering some words or expressions could affect how they respond to similar messages in the future.

Situational Barrier

The prevailing situation at the time of the sending and receiving of the message may influence the process.

reflection Look at the cartoon bellow and respond to the following questions


dramatizing language barrier

1.A French-speaking family arrives in Trinidad from Martinique and is immediately thrown into situations reflecting differences in culture including language, forms of greetings etc. Problems include interaction with

  • the Immigration Officer
  • the taxi driver
  • the waiter at the restaurant
  • the hotel clerk etc.
small group discussion/role play

2. A meeting of community leaders to present and discuss a proposed plan for improving the community. The speaker is presenting the list of various sub-committees and their allotted tasks. Members (with their various “issues”) listen to the presenter then complain, showing their misunderstanding / misinterpretation of the proposed plan. The members speak while hinting at their “issues” / barriers

  • Member “A” came into the meeting angry, due to a domestic problem
  • Member “B” had been reading the newspaper and only heard the very end of the presentation
  • Member “C” interprets all behaviour / decisions based on race, thinking everyone else is racist.
role playing: lack of focus and noise as barriers to communication

Father (single parent) and teenaged sons (background noises including music from CD player) Father is packing to leave on a business trip and reminding his sons about guidelines for visitors to the house; securing the house at night (Young men are playing hand-held computer games while listening to their father). Scene 11: Brothers are arguing about the guidelines, since they are organizing a party.


Communication is unsuccessful when there is a breakdown between the sender and the receiver. The breakdown occurs when there is a barrier to the communication process, resulting in misunderstandings and sometimes frustration. These barriers can be physical or cultural and include distractions, overpowering emotions, lack of clarification, improper feedback, as well as a difference in perception. Effective communication takes place when there is a common understanding and acceptance of the message between the sender and receiver.


How will I assess my progress

You will be assessed through Self and Peer assessment

1. Disscuss with another learner an unsuccessful communication situation in which you found yourself. Consider reasons why communication was not successful. List the hindrances/barriers which made communication difficult or unsuccessful and show how this may have impacted on your interpretation of information recieved. Identify the type of barrier you would like to change. Share your personal insights with each other, then choose techniques for improving this barrier, to present to the larger group. Preferably a role play,no more than ten minutes. Suggest strategies, make recommandations for improvements.

Self assessment

Questions for Reflection

Can I identify the barriers to communication?

Reflect on the barriers I encounter during communication

How do I deal with such barriers to communication

Reflect on emotional barriers and what strategy to be used to overcome them

your expectations of others, self or organization a barrier

are others aware of your expectations?

Peer assessment

Presentations, discussions and dramatizations

Look at the 2 images below and answer the following guestions

Based on the barriers discussed in the session paragraphs above, share any of your personal prior learning experiences where you were unable to send intended message. Explain or illustrate at which point in the process, problem may occur and how you would go about preventing the problem from occuring.







what do say about the 2 model are they the same? why? Which of the model illustrate Barrier to communication? what do you think were the reasons for break down? what cause this communication problem? what could have happen as a result of this problem? what could you done in this situation

supportive materials

  1. Handouts
  2. Videos
  3. Skits
  4. Power point presentation
  5. Comics
  6. Animations