Effective barriers to communication

Effective barriers to communication

It is possible and sometimes does happen that things can go wrong when communicating with residents/patients or colleagues. When communicating effectively, there are several barriers that can cause something to go wrong. You need to understand what these Effective barriers to communication are and what you can do to reduce their impact.

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Emotional state

It can be difficult for residents as well as staff to communicate effectively when they are upset, distressed, or emotional. People need space, time, and comfort to process the emotions they are experiencing, so it’s essential to listen to them and provide them with those things.

Physical issues

It may be difficult for people to communicate effectively when they are feeling unwell. As well as chronic health conditions, there are some chronic health conditions that may affect communication, such as motor neuron diseases, Parkinson’s disease, and Multiple Sclerosis. When working with acutely ill or chronically ill people, it is particularly critical to recognize this barrier.

Insufficient time

Communication can be hampered by time pressures within healthcare services. It is not uncommon for people to require a significant amount of time to communicate their needs.


Negative or poor body language

The patient or resident may not feel comfortable discussing what is happening with them, or how they fee, if you express poor or negative body language towards them. Try to maintain an open and approachable attitude at all times and pay attention to your body language.

Impairments of the senses 

Patients with vision or hearing problems may have difficulty communicating. Depending on their sensory impairments, they may be able to communicate using glasses, hearing aids, or written communication. Finding out how they communicate is essential, and providing assistance to help them communicate their ideas, thoughts, and needs is crucial. Residents and patients may travel between care settings with communication passports that they have completed previously. You can learn more about someone’s communication preferences by looking at their communication passport.

Using jargon

It can be difficult to communicate when you use complicated, technical words. Despite the complexity of medical procedures, it is crucial to explain them in simple and clear terms. It is also beneficial to explain the need for tests and procedures in order to reduce anxiety and increase understanding in patients.

An obstacle due to Language

There is a possibility that you are communicating with someone who speaks a different language than you, which might create communication barriers. It is imperative to speak to your local trust in order to find out how you can access translation services. Besides attending in person, translators can also provide assistance over the phone.

Barrier of Lighting

People with visual impairments or lip readers may have difficulty communicating effectively in low lighting. When communicating with another person, it is imperative to have the right lighting.


Communicating with someone can be made easier by learning as much about them as possible before doing so. You may be able to overcome some of these barriers by doing this. By reviewing their communication passport (an example is included in the PDF below), you may be able to gain a better understanding of their communication needs. Every one of us should continuously strive to improve our communication skills. In order to improve your communication skills, it is imperative that you engage in professional development. As well, where possible, you should ask colleagues and residents for feedback on how you communicated with them and what you could do better.


This document is courtesy of East Kent Hospitals University.

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