How to Overcome Noise Barriers in Communication

by Damon Verial

Oral communication's purpose is to allow a listener to interpret a speaker's message. In many situations, the conversation does not occur in a quiet atmosphere conducive to dialogue. In these cases, noise may be a barrier to effective communication, causing problems. The speaker and listener must overcome the noise barrier by eliminating noise pollution or changing their method of oral communication.

Eliminate or reduce the noise. Detect the source of the noise. If it is possible to eliminate the noise, consider whether its removal is practical. For example, the speakers can reduce outside noises by closing the windows or moving toward an inner area of the building. The speakers should determine how important the conversation is in considering whether to eradicate the noise. It may not be necessary to completely remove the source of the noise.

Raise speech volume. The speaker can raise her voice if she believes the listener cannot hear her well. If the listener has difficulty understanding the speaker due to noise, she can request the speaker talk louder. To overcome a noise barrier, increase the volume of the conversation so that the noise no longer significantly impedes the discussion.

Listen actively. The listener should attempt active listening. This means paying close attention to the speaker's words -- not merely hearing what the speaker has to say, but interpreting it from the speaker's point of view as well. Frequently, noise is only a subjective blockade to conversation. The listener is distracted by the noise, but the noise is not objectively impeding the communication.

Use clear, straightforward language. By using clear and straightforward language, you are preventing needless confusion and misinterpretation. Avoid using idioms, slang and other language that may be misinterpreted. It may be that verbose statements with complicated, multi-syllabic words are distorted by the noise in the environment. In cases where the noise is a slight to moderate nuisance and not a true obstacle to communication, the speaker can improve conveying her message by using clear, straightforward language.

Our Everyday Video

Brought to you by LEAFtv
Brought to you by LEAFtv


  • "Breaking Barriers to Oral Communication in an English Lesson"; Zaarbrzcken; 2010
  • "Oral Communication"; Young and Travis; 2008
  • "Oral Communication: Speaking Across Cultures"; Samovar and Mills; 1998

About the Author

Having obtained a Master of Science in psychology in East Asia, Damon Verial has been applying his knowledge to related topics since 2010. Having written professionally since 2001, he has been featured in financial publications such as SafeHaven and the McMillian Portfolio. He also runs a financial newsletter at Stock Barometer.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images