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Identify barriers to communication

Barriers to communication are obstacles that impede effective communication.

To communicate well, it is important that you have an awareness of some common barriers and how you might remove or reduce them.

The list below covers several communication barriers. In the next section, we will demonstrate ways that barriers to communication may be overcome.


If individuals do not share the same common language, communication can be very difficult because neither person will understand the words that the other is speaking.

Accents/dialects/slang/jargon/long words

Strong accents and dialects can make words sound different to what an individual is familiar with. Similarly, the use of words that are not familiar to an individual, such as technical jargon, slang and long words, can make understanding more difficult.


Communication can be difficult if individuals are not in a comfortable environment. Environmental factors can include temperature, lighting and seating. Background noise can also be a barrier to communication if individuals cannot hear one another or are distracted.

Basic Needs

An individual’s personal comfort will also have a bearing on how well they can communicate. If their basic needs are not met (e.g. they are hungry, thirsty, tired etc.), communication can be more difficult.


Social barriers to communication could include things like culture, age and economic status. For example, an individual may not be able to afford the transportation to attend a meeting or not have access to a device for video conferencing (or know how to use the technology).

It also includes conformity, which is a process by which the behaviours and values of an individual tend towards those of a group (e.g. if a group of people is not open and talkative, each individual in this group will follow the same behaviour)


Usually, face-to-face communication is most effective, but this may not be possible if there are physical barriers (e.g. doors, walls etc.) between them. Geographical separation (e.g. living in different countries) may also make communication more difficult.

Health Conditions

Some health conditions can affect an individual’s ability to communicate effectively. This could include an individual with a learning disability that requires more time to process information or someone who has recently had a stroke and is unable to speak.


It can be harder to communicate effectively if we are currently in a heightened state of emotion, such as anger or fear.

Accompanying Video

Video transcript


My name is Daniel Dutton and I run the website dsdweb.co.uk which provides free help, guidance and support for people that are studying for care qualifications.

In this video, I will be looking at some of the barriers to effective communication. This is an assessment criterion for the Level 2 and Level 3 Diplomas in Adult Care as well as the Care Certificate.

But before I continue, I’d be very grateful if you could click on the thumbs-up button to Like this video and subscribe to my channel. This helps the video to be more visible on Youtube so that it can be easily found by other students.

A barrier to effective communication could be defined as an obstacle that blocks or impedes messages from being sent and received between individuals. When we talk about messages in the context of communication, this could mean a range of communication methods including verbal, written, visual and tactile.

This slide shows some common barriers to communication:

* Emotional barriers can occur if an individual is in a heightened state of emotion. We all perhaps have experienced how difficult it can be to communicate if we are very angry, upset or sad.
* An example of a physical barrier might be if you are conversing with an individual behind a closed door
* Environmental barriers are aspects of the environment that make communication difficult. For example, if there is background noise, such as loud music playing, individuals may not be able to hear one another. Or, if the lights are too bright, this may make communication difficult for an individual that is hypersensitive to light.
* A shared language is essential for individuals to be able to understand one another. Accents, dialects and the use of jargon can also make communication more difficult. In addition, some individuals may not have a large vocabulary and so not understand long or complex words.
* Cultural barriers occur when individuals do not have an awareness of one another’s culture. For example, Muslims may not be permitted to touch a member of the opposite sex and so refuse a handshake, which the other party perceives as being rude. Prejudice and stereotyping can also affect the efficacy of communication.
* Individuals may have health conditions that can make communication more difficult. For example, an individual that has recently experienced a stroke may struggle to communicate verbally.

Thank you for watching and I hope you’ve found this video useful.

Further information, including more barriers to communication, can be found in the link in the description.

If you require any additional help or want to send feedback about this video, please feel free to use the comments section below or visit my website dsdweb.co.uk.

And, if you’ve not already done so, please click the Like and Subscribe buttons below.

Bye for now.

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