How to Eliminate Perceptual Barriers

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Two people...two perceptions. This can make communication difficult.
Two people...two perceptions. This can make communication difficult. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

There are several different types of communication problems that can plague an organization, but some of the more difficult ones involve perceptual barriers between people or groups of people. When different stakeholders approach the same situation, but view that situation differently, those varied perceptions can cause difficulties in communication. Finding common ground among several different viewpoints can be challenging for the leaders of an organization.

Accompany diversity training with interpersonal communication activities. Exercises that teach employees about the traits of different cultural or gender groups can build hostility if those employees do not see the benefit of that training. Activities in which employees can build genuine bridges of common interest together will strengthen diversity training by increasing organizational buy-in.

Avoid making assumptions about a speaker or colleague simply based on her physical appearance or superficial traits such as accents. Everyone who comes into your work environment may have something positive to contribute to your organization and something to teach you. If you go into a meeting or a training session with a goal of simply learning one new skill or tip, more of your training meetings will be rewarding.

Adjust your expectations accordingly if a meeting or training session is vastly different than what you had expected. If a quick catch-up with your supervisor turns into some harsh feedback about a recent deal, or if some technical training you were expecting turns out to be a repetition of information you already knew, turn the situation into an opportunity to show your leadership qualities.

Maintain an attitude that says that every encounter at work, from conversations at the water cooler to planning meetings to retreats, can bring something positive to your skill set or to your contact network. This will make you more open to the viewpoints of others, because you will be looking to benefit from their expertise instead of wondering why you had to go to the seminar in the first place.

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