7 Barriers to Effective Workplace Communication (And How to Overcome Them)

by Jason Richmond, CEO and Chief Culture Officer at Ideal Outcomes, Inc. 

In any organization, team, or department, there will be challenges when it comes to communication. Communication barriers can arise for various reasons, but they almost always have negative consequences.

When team members don’t feel like they can trust one another or fear speaking up because of potential repercussions, it has a negative effect on the workplace as a whole. Even small roadblocks can quickly become large hurdles if left unaddressed.

That being said, it’s clear that effective communication is crucial in any workplace. In this article, we’ll explore seven barriers to effective workplace communication that need to be addressed if you want your team to operate at peak efficiency levels and mitigate misunderstandings.

What Causes Workplace Communication to Suffer?

1. Lack of Transparency

One of the most common barriers to effective communication is a lack of transparency. Lack of transparency can cause various issues in any business, but it can be especially harmful to remote teams.

In an organization without transparency, employees often feel like they have to play a guessing game and spend more time than necessary trying to figure out what their teammates and leaders are thinking or working on.

You can avoid these problems by ensuring you’re openly communicating with your team members. Keep them updated on organizational updates and projects, building trust within the culture and giving them the confidence they need to excel in their roles.

None of your team members should ever feel like they’re playing a guessing game - that only leads to frustration, disengagement, and wasted time.

2. Limited Feedback

One of the key causes of workplace communication suffering is a lack of feedback. This can be due to a number of managers not being open to hearing constructive criticism or employees feeling like their voice won’t be heard.


One way to combat this is by setting up regular check-ins or feedback sessions where employees can voice their concerns and give suggestions on how to improve communication. This will help create an open and honest environment where everyone feels heard.

3. Different Communication Styles

Another cause of communication difficulties in the workplace is that team members likely have different communication styles. This can make it challenging to effectively communicate with and understand one another, leading to miscommunications and even conflict.


The best way to combat this is by educating everyone on the different communication styles represented in the workplace. This can be done through training sessions, e-learning courses, or even just informal conversations. 

4. Conflicting Goals

Workplace communication can be difficult when there are conflicting goals. Sometimes, employees will come from different backgrounds and have different priorities. This can lead to conflict and disillusionment within the team.


The best way to resolve these issues is to ensure that everyone understands each other’s priorities; it will be easier to work together towards the same goal in a more productive manner.

6. Lack of Trust

Trust is one of the most important components of effective communication. And in a workplace with a lack of trust, it’ll be difficult to succeed in the long run.

When people don’t feel like they can trust one another or fear speaking up because of potential repercussions, they’re less likely to communicate effectively. It’s crucial to establish this type of trust early on with your team.


If you want to foster positive, trusting relationships among team members, it starts with you, the leader. Trust is built by exhibiting trustworthy behaviors over time. When people see that you have their best interests at heart, lead with authenticity, and value their ideas, you’ll be well on your way to fostering a trusting work atmosphere.

7. Lack of Team Member Engagement

One of the most common communication barriers is a lack of engagement. It’s hard to communicate effectively with team members who don’t seem interested in what you have to say.


To overcome this barrier, it’s important to find out why these employees are disengaged. Perhaps they don’t feel that their voices are being heard, or feel that there’s too much on their plates. Regardless, it’s essential to address these concerns and ensure employees feel valued and engaged in their roles.


When workplace communication suffers, it can have a negative impact on productivity, morale, and your bottom line. The good news is that there are steps you can take to break down these barriers and foster strong communication throughout the organization.

If you need help improving workplace communication, contact Ideal Outcomes today. We specialize in helping businesses overcome their culture change challenges and can tailor a solution to your specific needs.

We invite you to contact us today to learn more about how we can help.