13 July 2016

Semantic Barriers in Effective Communication

As humans living in a community, we need to interact with other people. However, a person may have different types of interactions and as a result has different experiences(and therefore relationships) with different people.  
In my pursuit of understanding what i call "Why misunderstandings occur" :) , i happened to come across some articles on the internet which sort of gave me a scientific explanation of why things work out with some and don't with others.

Semantic barriers are the misunderstandings that occur when people try to communicate an idea, but simultaneously having completely different meanings in mind for the words.

These barriers or misunderstandings come from differences in language, education, and culture. Obviously if the sender is speaking in English and the receiver doesn't understand English, there's a problem. But even if the sender and receiver speak English, they may not speak the same dialect. The words they use may not mean the same thing.
Personal factors like difference in judgment, social values, inferiority complex, bias attitude, time pressure, communication inability, etc. broaden the psychological distance between the sender and the receiver.

For example: 
1) If we order a soda in Washington, DC, we'll get a soft drink. If we order a soda in Detroit, we'll get a drink made of soda water and flavored syrup with ice cream floating in it. 

2) If one is from the United States and he is speaking to a Scot from Glasgow, the American may have a hard time simply understanding his pronunciation. And his accent may be incomprehensible to the person from Scot. The receiver may use complicated words or phrases that the sender doesn't understand, such as "to ratiocinate" instead of "to reason," or "I am extremely appreciative of your efforts in my behalf" instead of "Thank you." 

3) In some cultures, the use of titles before names is extremely important as a sign of respect, while greeting someone we've just met using his or her first name (as many Americans do) would be considered quite rude.

4) We say "Dhanyavad" which means in Hindi 'Thank you,' but the same word in Guajarati means 'congratulations'. 

Normally, people understand the message in terms of their own behavior and experience.  Well, as the saying goes "Everyone is right from his/her own perspective"! :)

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