Barriers to Interpersonal Communication

Communication and Media

Option 1: Week 2 Topic- Introduction to the Field of Communication and Media

Every person’s interpersonal life is dependent on the ability to express thoughts, feelings, and ideas to others through communication. Interpersonal communication entails both verbal and non-verbal exchange of ideas, thoughts or feelings between two or more people. People often face barriers during interpersonal communication which lead to ineffective communication. According to Rani (2016), barriers in communication refers to any hindrance that hinders the conveyance of ideas or messages between two or more people in social interactions. Barriers to interpersonal communication include cultural, environmental, and language barriers.   In every communication, language is key to an individual’s self-identity used to make sense of our ideas and participate in discussions in a social setting. According to Lockwood (2015), language barriers are caused by cultural differences, and they often lead to misconstrued messages.  I agree with these authors because I once experienced language barriers with a certain doctor at a hospital in Malaysia.

In an era driven by increased professional networks, language barriers such as jargons and clichés have infiltrated most professions. Jargons refer to words or vocabulary unique to specific professions such as medicine which cannot be understood by a receiver unfamiliar with the vocabulary.  I realized that the use of jargons could impede interpersonal communication during my clinical visits at National Heart Institute Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.  Malaysian health care policy requires doctors to use active, open, and honest communication with their patients to ensure quality patient care.  According to De Moissac and Bowen (2019), communication between doctors and patients adopt health-related words during an interaction. Doctors are required to use words that are understandable by patients to avoid misdiagnosis or misunderstandings. 


During my clinical visit, I met Dr Kant, a middle-aged Indian male gynecologists’, who had worked in the institution for 12 years.  After describing my health condition to him, Dr Kant recommended using an Indian accent that I should undergo an EPS. I could hardly understand what he meant by EPS, and I even missed some English words.   Although I had visited the institution severally and had confidence in English proficiency, I had never met an Indian or heard about EPS. After inquiry, the doctor explained that he recommended the electrophysiology study (EPS. The communication barriers resulted from language and cultural barriers. The doctor used medical a medical jargon “EPS” that I could not understand.  I am not a doctor by profession, and the use of medical terminology confused me about the exact therapy recommended by Dr Kant.  Cultural differences also hindered communication since I am an American while Dr Kant was an Indian. The Indian accent hindered me from understanding all the words used during the interaction.

 Although language barrier is a major hindrance in interpersonal communication, poor listening skills also contribute to misunderstandings in social settings. I experienced this during a club meeting with our soccer director.  The sports director was a stammerer and always spoke in a soft voice. During the session, I struggled to hear what the director was saying, and instead of listening to him, I started criticizing him, which made me more distracted. A few hours later, I had lost focus and could not respond to simple questions asked by the director during the meeting. I felt so frustrated to have missed the fundamental ideas expressed by the director.  I decided to listen carefully to what he was saying and gave suggestions regarding the topic.  The director applauded me and emphasized the importance of active listening skills in communication in building strong relationships with others (Wilkins, Bernstein, and Bekki, 2015). This instance taught me the importance of listening in communication. Since then, I decided to become an active listener not only in club meetings but also at home with my family.

In conclusion, the two scenarios improved my interpersonal communication skills by avoiding jargons and actively listening during social interactions. When communicating with recipients from different backgrounds, it essential to use clear language and terminologies understandable by all parties.  The experience also taught me the importance of listening to the speaker’s major ideas to obtain an overall understanding of the speaker’s communication instead of reacting to their weaknesses.  Interpersonal communication is an essential skill for the formation of healthy relationships in my social settings.


De Moissac, D., & Bowen, S. (2019). Impact of language barriers on quality of care and patient safety for official language minority Francophones in Canada. Journal of Patient Experience6(1), 24-32.

Lockwood, J. (2015). Virtual team management: what is causing communication breakdown?. Language and Intercultural Communication15(1), 125-140.

Rani, K. U. (2016). Communication barriers. Veda’s Journal of English Language and Literature3(2), 74-76.

Wilkins, K. G., Bernstein, B. L., & Bekki, J. M. (2015). Measuring communication skills: The STEM interpersonal communication skills assessment battery. Journal of Engineering Education104(4), 433-453.