Problems that Emanate from the Source of the Message

You might have learned the importance of every element of the communication process in the success or failure of sending and receiving a message and in fostering a positive relationship between or among the participants. These very same elements can also pose problems or barriers to the success of the process and may lead to a communication breakdown.

Here are some problems that emanate from the source/speaker/encoder/sender:

Problems in language proficiency/skills

The receiver will have difficulty understanding a speaker who has problems in any of the following: (1) choosing the right words to express the intended message; (2) weaving these words in the grammatical or comprehensible language structure; (3) pronouncing intelligibly the words and employing appropriate stress, juncture, and intonation; (4) organizing ideas; and (5) using appropriate volume, pitch, and tone of the voice.

Lack of sensitivity to the receiver's background

When the speaker does not consider the personal background of the receiver (education, culture, personal feelings, etc.), a breakdown in communication may result because the intended message may not be understood. Sometimes, the “unintended meaning” of the speaker may be highlighted and may result in confusion, misunderstanding, or worse, in a quarrel between the interactants. Recognizing the receiver’s age, culture, educational background, socioeconomic status, gender, knowledge, social status; needs, and preferences assist the sender/speaker in preparing a successful encounter with the receiver. 

Lack of preparation

Usually, in person-to-person interaction, less preparation is required especially if the communicators know the background and character of each one. Speaking in front of your loved ones about any subject matter may not require much preparation, except perhaps when you are trying to break sad news or information than can likely hurt or offend them. This may not be the case when you are asked to prepare for a speech to be delivered in front of a bigger audience because you will require much preparation, not only in organizing the content cf your speech, but also in delivering it, considering the occasion and its purpose and the profile of those who will be participating in the event. Not being able to ask about the profile of the receiver or audience may pose problems in planning the message or presentation. Preparation also includes checking the accuracy of facts and details and verifying the credibility of your sources.

Negative perception of self and other emotional problems

A speaker who lacks self-confidence or who possesses emotional problems might find talking to other people challenging or even intimidating, more so to a bigger number of people. This is called stage fright or communication apprehension. Doing some breathing exercises before the actual speech helps lessen the physical signs of stage fright. However, a healthy perception of yourself, a strong belief in your own capabilities, and thorough preparation are good measures to address any communication ap-prehensions you may have. Stage fright lessens with time and experience. However, there are some people who never get over their apprehensions; instead, they learn to control them and minimize their negative effects.

Consider the other barriers to communication given by Tunney (2014): (1) language barrier, (2) systematic barrier, and (3) attitudinal barrier. The first one is explained here. How about explaining the next two using your own words?

Language barrier. Not only people who speak different languages have problems understanding one another, but also those who speak the same language. In British English, for example, the first floor is the level above the ground floor (Merriam-Webster); in American English, it is “the floor of a building that is at ground level” (Merriam-Webster); so, the first floor of the British is the American’s second floor. For an English language learner (ELL), this poses a bit of confusion. It also confuses a British person living in America, and vice versa.

Among other things that serve as language barriers is the use of slang and jargon since they are not readily understandable to people outside of the group that uses them. Slang refers to “words that are not considered part of the standard vocabulary of a language and that are used very informally in speech especially by a particular group of people” (Merriam-Webster), while jargon refers to the language used by a specific trade or profession.