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Communication Barriers at the Workplace

Having good communication skills is rather crucial for all workers since it may significantly affect their performance and success. It is even more essential for those employees and managers who are transferred to the company’s new factory in another country. Working with people of different races and cultures may be challenging itself, but communication barriers and some other factors may worsen the situation, and it may become rather difficult for all employees to coordinate with each other fully. The purpose of this paper is to define and discuss communication barriers and language and cross-cultural factors at the workplace and the power problem that may have to be overcome by the transferred staff and workers from the host country.

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Communication Barriers at the Workplace

Before analyzing the problem, it is necessary to state that the chosen perspective for understanding organizational communication is the interpretivist approach. It tries to see human interaction as the process that lies in the work of an organization instead of managing it (Bratton, 2015). Most of the communication barriers in the workplace appear because of various misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Moreover, they may occur due to employees’ different personalities, values, and beliefs, and because of a rather stressful work environment (Jelani & Nordin, 2019). Communication barriers at the workplace include the lack of confidence and stereotypes and generalization.

Lack of Confidence

To begin with, lack of confidence is a rather significant problem that may be faced by both foreign managers and local workers and occur in various forms, including discomfort, awkwardness, and shyness. Since all employees are of different cultures and nationalities, they may feel unconfident and worried about whether they will understand each other (Jelani & Nordin, 2019). This problem has an effect on the overall company’s collaboration and suppresses workers to give opinions and ask for their rights.

Generalization and Stereotypes

Generalization and stereotypes are often a significant part of people’s thinking and imagining other nationalities. As managers are transferred to the factory with workers from another country, both parties have some prejudices about each other that are rather harmful because they may affect accurate perception (Jelani & Nordin, 2019). Usually, stereotypes are not truthful and may be quite offensive, and it does not promote mutual understanding and good communication.

Cross-Cultural Factors

Due to the growth of global business and the idea of uniting workers of different nations, cross-cultural communication has become strategically vital to organizations. Although the barriers listed above play a significant role in a company’s performance, it is possible to suggest that precisely cross-cultural factors are the most crucial. According to Bratton (2015), “people communicate differently because of their culture, their gender, and how they have learned to perceive the world” (p. 306). Thereby, the diversity of cultures may indeed have a negative impact on employees’ trust, performance, and productivity (Guirdham, 2017). A person’s culture tells him or her how to behave, what to believe in, forms his or her ideas, values, and stereotypes. That is why it has to be put aside when working in a company with people of various nationalities and origins.

There is a division between high-context and low-context cultures, and it may be challenging for managers to adapt to the traditions of the host country. For instance, “in low-context societies, people are less able to agree or solve disputes without resorting to written contracts,” while in high-context ones, collaboration, trust, and personal relationships are emphasized (Bratton, 2015, p. 308). Also, workers from low-context cultures are in a rush and try to do everything quickly, and high-context societies have flexible time.

Language Factors

Language factors may have a great influence on the ability of workers from different countries to understand each other and work in one team without arguments and disputes. According to Sanden (2016), “language has been described as the essence of international business” (p. 275). This is true since words and gestures express people’s opinions, ideas, and the image of the company’s goals and future. For international business, it is important to share, which is possible through language. When working with people of different cultures and nationalities, it is essential to ensure that they understand everything right and perceive the information as was meant to. Moreover, foreign managers must make sure that their body language and gestures usual for the homeland are not offensive in the country that they came to.

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Problem of Power

For any organization to work, there have to be ordinary workers and managers; in other words, those who make orders and are responsible for guiding employees and increasing their performance. Hence, they need to have and maintain power, which puts them above all other staff. However, for power to be preserved, those who obey need to accept someone’s control and continue performing his or her orders. In another country and with employees of different cultures and nationalities, it is quite challenging for managers to maintain and use their power (Aggerholm et al., 2011). According to Bretton (2015), “leadership depends on the use of verbal and non-verbal language, both words and behavior” (p. 304). Thereby, since verbal and even body languages vary between countries, workers may decide not to accept foreign managers’ power. This is a rather significant problem that can affect the factory’s performance and success and cause disputes between employees.


To draw a conclusion, one may say that communication barriers are a major problem for organizations, and their leaders have to do their best to eliminate it. Nevertheless, in situations when cultural diversity of workers is involved, it is rather challenging for managers to keep and use their power and for employees to develop mutual understanding. The company’s staff needs to put aside its diversities and work together to increase the organization’s performance and effectiveness.


Aggerholm, H. K., Andersen, S. E., & Thomsen, C. (2011). Conceptualizing employer branding in sustainable organizations. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 16(2), 105-123.

Bratton, J. (2015). Introduction to work and organizational behavior. Macmillan International Higher Education.

Guirdham, O. (2017). Communicating across cultures at work. Macmillan Education.

Jelani, F., & Nordin, N. S. (2019). Communication issues at the workplace. International Journal of Modern Languages and Applied Linguistics, 2(1), 32-46.

Sanden, G. R. (2016). Language: The sharpest tool in the business strategy toolbox. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 21(3), 274-288.

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