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Barriers caused by varying perceptions of reality

Perception is understanding of the world around us. Each one perceives the world in his own unique way and interprets what has been perceived in yet another unique way and interprets what has been perceived in yet another unique way. When we strongly disagree, we simply say “I am sorry, our perceptions appear to be different”.

Abstraction: An abstract is a condensation of something.  When we communicate, we unconsciously resort to ‘abstracting’, i.e., keeping to the essentials. We eliminate what we decide to be superfluous. But the receiver may not be competent enough to understand what we have eliminated. Abstracting is necessary for good and effective communication but it should not be done in certain demanding situations. If done it becomes a barrier.   When you are instructing a lay and illiterate person about cleaning the house, you have to tell literally to remove cobwebs, sweep, dust and mop. Abstracting at this situation may not prove to be useful. The worker may not understand that you want every step and process to be gone through. But when you give the job to an agency, you can simply say, I want the house “thoroughly cleaned”. They share your perception about the job. Good abstracting can remove barriers in communication caused by unnecessary words and details. In a communication process, if the participants have different levels of perception, abstraction will be a barrier to communication.

Slanting:  Slanting is a barrier to communication. A slanted report is judgemental. News reporters are asked to report news and not give them a slant. A small ‘crowd’ or a large crowd’ are generally slanted expressions giving only relative meanings. Instead, if you say a gathering of about five thousand people you avoid slanting. Communication should also be unaffected by inferences and assumptions. Most inferences and all assumptions are highly subjective. They tend to become barriers if they form the basis of a message or information.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • chayambuka munyaradzi October 15, 2011, 1:37 am

    its seems to be unclear

  • kasmil mkalawa January 30, 2016, 9:33 pm

    How does perception is a barrier to effective communication?

  • Lee Einer August 30, 2016, 7:24 pm

    Perception per se is not the barrier.

    it is the “perception of reality,” to which the author refers, and that may not be the most concise way to describe the phenomenon.

    Everyone has an assumptive base, a “world view,” which acts both as a filter of and an interpreter of perception.

    Information which is incongruent to the assumptive base tends to be rejected or reframed in such a way as to avoid conflicting with it and thus preserve the reader’s world view.

    Of course, the rational thing to do would be to modify our assumptive base when new information shows some part of it to be inaccurate, but as a rule we do this grudgingly if at all.

  • Richard November 3, 2016, 1:48 am

    It seems to be unclear as I’m looking for a solid definition. However, thanks for the definition by the way.

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