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Communication noise

Updated: Aug 29, 2019

Does that what I say is that what they hear?

Such an obvious thing and at this same time so incomprehensible.


I will not bother you with all of these definitions of interpersonal communication, communication barriers and communication noises; this is good for students who need or want to focus only on the particular subject. For you, as a decision-maker, it is a high priority to know that there is something like "noise" and try to understand it. I want to share with you my experience and my point of view.

In one of the most excellent book of R. W. Griffin - "Management," said that communication is the process of sending a message in such a way that the message received is as close as possible to the message sent. In other words, communication is effective when the recipient understands the information as intended by the sender, i.e.:

- the sender's intention is clear to the recipient

- the recipient listens carefully

- the recipient does not judge or evaluate the sender's statements.

Surely we all agree with that. So, how does this process looks?


Where coding is a: writing, saying, showing, touching ...

and decoding: reading, listening, watching, feeling, smelling ...

What kind of noises can we meet? (to simplify I will talk about barriers and noises as one thing)

We can distinguish four basic types of noise:

- Psychological noise

- Environmental noise

- Physical noise

- Semantic noise.

The most recognisable and distinct noises are: environmental and physical. They contain: noise pollution from outside, caused by transport, industrial and recreational activities also others talking in the background, background music, a startling noise etc.

Semantic noise

It happens when the sender of the message uses a word or a phrase that we don't know the meaning of, or which we use differently from the speakers. This type of noise may occur when we are starting or stopping using grammar, or technical language and receiver cannot understand it clearly.

And one of the most difficult to point and describe is - Psychological noise, the importance of which is undeniable and ignore.

This type of noise includes concepts like:

- prejudices,

- narrow-mindedness,

- personal bias,

- life experience,

- rush,

- fear,

- anger,

- sadness,

- joy

most of our feelings and experiences have an impact on how we will encode and decode information.


Study case:

Background: A company have been hiring a deaf-mute employee (he can read and write) for more than six months. There were always some issues with this worker. The manager complains that the employee does not listen to his orders. The employee says that his manager lies, and further down he thinks about complain against employer on discrimination ground. The company director mediates and tries to resolve this problem, but from week to week, it gets worse.

They "communicated" by writing - I witnessed such a situation when the manager was explaining duties in this way to the worker.

Manager: Has written a note,

Employee: Has read the note,

M: Has showed the gesture of understanding, pointing ok,

E: Has showed the gesture with thumb up, and he was about to leave.

I read that memo also, and then because I know some basics of the sign language I approached the employee and asked to explain what message has been written there. He could not answer that question to me.

I asked is that message is understood for him, he admitted that sadly but not - he was too embarrassed to admit it.

What was happen there?

Noises from both sides.

From the coding side (the manager) - the semantic noise. He thought that if the worker can read, he also can understand everything, so he passed written information in ordinary language, using grammar and technical words.

From the decoding side (the employee) - the psychological noise.

The worker in his childhood, as a deaf-mute person, was teased by the other children, they called him a dumb, a stupid, an idiot... after all these years of badgered, it became a massive problem for him to admit that he does not understand something. He kept pretended he follows and observed how others react.

One question

Could resolve so many problems.

Can you tell me please in your own words, what I just tried to say to you?



Let's think about another situation when you were hurried, angry, in one of the shops you received one of the most slow-moving services ever, and then... the traffic jam! You receive a call. It is your insurance broker, phoning to inform you that your insurance will expire in 3 weeks, and he would like to discuss with you a great offer, which is valid only today. You need to make the decision right now. Certainly, time pressure works against you. You start thinking about the cooling-off period, and at this same moment, the idea about purchasing this policy right now does not seem to be reckless. Still, you have plenty of time to cancel it. You decide to buy this policy. Someone from the speaker is reading to you long terms and conditions (which take over 5 mins fast reading), you are not even trying to listen it, you just waiting for the end to accept it and hang up.

Will you remember (or will you have time) to cancel it?

Did you ever think why the offer is valid only now or/and only by phone?

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