Language Barriers in Business Communication Term Paper

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Communication Barriers

Communication plays an essential role in an organization. There are a number of ways in which communication take place within an organization and with the outside suppliers. All sorts of communication have its own merits and drawbacks (Means, pg. 4). Different types of communication barriers also exist that can cause a great hindrance in effective communication. These barriers can come either from the sender or the receiver or in some cases from both sides. This paper will shed light on the importance of communication and communication barriers. It will further clarify the concept by giving an example of communication barriers between Chinese freight forwarding companies and small family owned U.S. Customs Brokerage (Hogan and Stubbs, pg. 26).


No activity can take place without communication and achieving effective communication can sometimes be tricky if proper measures are not taken. There will be no use of communication if the sender is unable to deliver what he wants to say, with or without consent. On the other hand, if the receiver is unable to interpret the given information, he cannot understand the task given to him and will not be able to perform properly. Not only is this, if the problem does not lie with the sender or the receiver, there can be a problem with the communication channel. Different sorts of communication channels are used today (Green and Knippen, pg. 55). In the modern era, where technology has changed everything, methods of communication are also changed. Today, e-mails are mostly preferred instead of manually writing a letter to the manager. Internet and extranet are other tools of electronic communication. Problems can also occur in these channels of information and can result in non-effective communication. For example, a security threat in the IT network of an organization can restrict users not to share their secret information, sudden problems on the internet system, failure of e-mail delivery, and unclear voice on a phone call.

A number of problems can occur while having communication. These problems are called barriers and can occur due to any of the three important elements of a communication system, the sender, the receiver or the communication channel (Green and Knippen, pg. 134). Some common barriers in effective communication include conflicts, difference in language, cultural differences, difference of perception, attitudes, power and status difference. These information barriers can occur among employees as well as among companies.

Example: Communication barrier between Chinese freight forwarding companies and U.S. Customs Brokerage companies.

This example will elaborate the cause and effect of communication barriers between these two companies and will show some possible solutions to overcome these problems in order to achieve effective communication.

1- Difference in language

Language can create a real barrier in effective communication since it plays an imperative role in communicating the information. Without language, communication becomes difficult, as it becomes difficult to comprehend the information. In this case, both the U.S. Customs Brokerage company and the Chinese freight forwarding business have different mother languages. Thus, a language barrier takes place between them. For the U.S. Company, it will be difficult or nearly impossible to understand Chinese language. Likewise, for the Chinese company, it can be difficult to understand the message of the U.S. Company. This language can have significant impacts on business relationships. It is because language is a prime factor in understanding what the other party wants to say and in delivering one's thoughts as well (Means, pg. 62). If there is a language barrier, developing a long-term business relationship and understanding the needs and demands of the other party seems difficult. This language barrier usually arises when the two interacting parties are from different countries, having different backgrounds and different languages.

2- Consistency barrier

In addition to the above barrier, another barrier that can occur between the two companies is the barrier of inconsistency. For example, if a U.S. customs brokerage company is discussing some matter with the Chinese freight company via e-mail and suddenly stops responding for several days, and then continues the former discussion, it becomes a barrier in effective communication. It is because the flow of communication gets broken. On the other hand, the Chinese freight company might think about the disturbance in freight transfer. Not only is this, but it will also show a non-professional attitude to the Chinese freight company which is waiting for the U.S. company to respond. When it is a professional dealing, consistent efforts matter a lot. Lack of consistency shows lack of interest and thus ultimately results in breaking of a contract. Consistency does not only affect the relationship between two companies, but it can also affect the relation between the supplier and the customer. For example, it is essential for the supplier to give consistent response (Green and Knippen, pg. 145). At times, suppliers are very inconsistent and thus the company opts for some other supplier because supplier's role in an organization is very important. If the business activity gets disturbed from the first stage, the entire process is affected and in the end, business has to bear the loss and customers complain.

3- Perception

Barrier of understanding is widely common in both formal and informal communication. For example, both the United States and the Chinese companies are communicating well but the way of understanding of both the companies is different. It can cause serious problems in maintaining a good business relationship. If United States company is looking forward to making a long-term deal with the Chinese company but the Chinese company only wants to make a six-month contract but do not want to reveal it in front of the U.S. business, this can cause great disturbance.

4- Knowledge, expertise and level

A significant cause of communication barrier can be knowledge, expertise and level of the organization. These three factors have a large impact on the activities, perception and communication techniques of the firm. Firms, which are highly experienced in their respective fields, have a good command on their business activities in comparison to those firms that are new and have little experience. So, when two companies of different levels communicate with each other, barriers often result due to understanding the concept. It is because both companies have different levels of understanding (Hogan and Stubbs, pg. 122). Due to long-term perspectives, great size firms wish to develop relationships with the companies of their level. On the other hand, the goals of newly born companies are short-term. They divide their tasks into small chunks and firstly want to establish their position in the market. For example, a U.S. customs brokerage business is a small size company and wants to make a deal with the Chinese freight forwarding company, which is a big sized company and has ears of experience. In this scenario, the communication barrier can occur due to the difference in level.

5- Expectations

Very high and very low expectations can create a communication barrier. In most of the cases, expectations are too high before having a dialogue and thus it becomes difficult to comprehend anything less than yours expectations. Likewise, extremely low expectations can also be dangerous. Taking the aforementioned example of the U.S. And the Chinese companies, expectations can also become a barrier between them. If a small group of Chinese freight forwarding companies is looking forward to making an agreement with the U.S. customs brokerage business and is expecting that the U.S. company will become glad and will accept their approval with all the policies, this can create a barrier. Over confidence and expectations sometimes cause conflicts among companies. If the U.S. Company gave new rules and regulations and did not agree with the policies of the Chinese firm, it may cause a barrier. Due to high expectations, may be the Chinese firm will not be able to understand their point-of-view.

6- Misinterpretation

Misinterpreting information can also create a barrier in effective communication. This barrier occurs due to a number of reasons. For example, a receiver may misinterpret the information due to stress, high workload, high expectations, and negative review about the sender or because of some recent event associated with the sender. Continuing with the previous example, if the U.S. brokerage firm and the Chinese freight firm have good business relationships, but a recent event has left a bad image of the Chinese firm to the U.S. brokerage firm. When the Chinese freight firm has asked for an extension in the meeting date, the U.S. firm misinterpreted this thing and thought that the other firm is trying to make excuses and has not made the pre-planned task until now. Thus, misinterpretation can make thing even worse and can badly affect business dealings (Hogan and Stubbs, pg. 178).

7- Cultural barrier

In addition to the above factors, culture can also act as a barrier in communication. Due to a difference in culture, many problems occur. A simple example can be of spoken words. Some words do have different meanings in different cultures. On the other hand, the way one behaves is also…[continue]

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