How is Language a Barrier to Communication?


While talking about the barriers to communication, we usually come up with a long list beginning with outdoor distractions, slamming of door, seeping in and out of the room frequently, attending phone calls in between, the audience talking each other, interrupting the speaker, or network issues in the case of online communication. The list goes on. 

There are certain other factors as well that skip our notice. The factor I am dealing with here is language itself. While it is the language that imparts meaning to any conversation, verbal/non-verbal, online/offline, in some cases, it serves as the prime barrier to many conversations. 

Why Does Language Become a Barrier?

Language becomes a barrier when it involves the inappropriate use of  ‘jargon’. Now, what is jargon?

Jargon is the terminology specific to a profession. Most of us mistake it for registers, slang or dialect. Jargon can be used if we are absolutely sure that all members in the group know it. If you realize that anybody in the group is unaware of it, then refrain from using it. Or else, it is going to trouble the person and it may be difficult for him to grasp your message. Hence, there occurs a communication barrier and it could break down at any moment.

Side-Effects of Using Jargon

If your language is saturated with jargon, you are going to have to lose some of your friends. Good levels of communication retain the bond between people. However, if you start speaking in a way that is comfortable to you alone, your colleague or friend may not listen to you. They may tolerate it on a couple of occasions but not every time. There are chances that you may sever ties with people due to this tendency. 

If at all, people listen to you patiently, they may often misinterpret your message and perceive it in a way that you might have probably never ever considered. So get ready to be misunderstood or misread if your language abounds in jargon. Say for example, if a doctor speaks in a jargon filled language to his patients. What do they infer from him? The innocents have to pay with their lives as a side effect of misinterpretation.

Although you may be using jargon unconsciously, the listener might take it as a sign of avoidance of his presence. The person may feel isolated and stops engaging in a conversation initiated by you. He feels that you are keeping him away from deciphering crucial messages. This shows your lack of respect for that person.

When you tend to use jargon in a letter or email or even a text message, if the receiver is foreign to jargon, he may grow agitated. Long emails that have plenty of jargon becomes a waste and you wouldn't receive the outcome that you expect. Misinterpreted messages are followed by unexpected and sometimes shocking responses.

If you talk to your worker using jargon, are there really any chances of him doing the work? Undoubtedly no. This can also make a mess of things that could have been otherwise avoided had you spoken in a simple language.

What Happens If You Don’t Avoid Jargon?

The listener may lose his interest in the talk after a few moments. Your words would then be received by deaf ears. In that case, you are not going to get a faithful response. You might be expressing something important in a compelling manner, but what is the use, at the end, when it fails to get conveyed and the listener stands perplexed?

If you are writing any content replete with jargon, it can reduce your site’s visibility. It can affect your SEO because people use keywords that are familiar to them. Know that you are not just for yourself, the readers should also benefit from your content. So make it simple and avoid jargon unless you are targeting an audience belonging to your profession.

How Do You Make Your Language Effective?

  • Always Use Plain Language 

Easily understandable terms are more favored than jargon. It also retains the attention of your listener. 

  • Repeat Your Message

In verbal communication, you are expected to repeat the message to make it clear to the listeners. And be loud enough. Sometimes your pronunciation of certain words differ greatly if you are using a different accent than that is used by the listeners. This is applicable if you are addressing a gathering.

  • Seek Help From Interpreters

If you are addressing a gathering of people from diverse cultures, language or even profession, you can get the help of interpreters to convey your message effectively. 

To conclude, to bridge the communication gap between people, it is mandatory that you avoid excessive use of jargon. Because, not all can pick up the meaning easily from the context. Embrace people from all walks of life and don't let wrong use of language stand in your way of building bonds with people.

Written by - Maryam Salim

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