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5 min read

7 Common Communication Problems In The Workplace


While communication should be a priority for any organization, there are particular issues and challenges both managers and staff members need to overcome in order to make sure that lines of communication remain open and effective.

Tools such as newsletters, corporate desktop wallpaper software, and others can be used to improve communication in the workplace, but it is vital to pinpoint overall communication issues in the workplace in order to resolve issues that are blocks to communication.

Communication issues in the workplace

Work has communication issues for many organizations. What is described as ‘communication barriers’ can be a common problem workplaces face:

1. Ego and attitude

Often, teamwork is deterred due to one member’s attitude and ego. One worker may want to take over discussions and prevent other members from speaking their minds. Another might refuse to lose an argument and accept that another person might be right. Many times, these people will refuse to accept that they are part of the problem. Egos and attitudes within the team can then lead to resentment, misunderstandings, and friction.

The role of the manager is, therefore, important in making sure that the team focuses on the work and issues at hand. Teamwork and true collaboration will only occur if resolutions reflect the needs of everyone in the group.

Solution: Ensure that your staff are properly trained and understand the role that they have to play in the team to understand their contribution to shared successes. You may need to deliver specific, targeted training on interpersonal relationships, dealing with conflict, and other “soft skills” if you identify this as one of the main workplace communication issues in your company.


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2. Passive listening

Passive listening is simply hearing what the other person has to say without truly understanding it or empathizing. Often, you will see someone talking, replying, and interrupting other people instead of truly listening to what others have to say. When people fail to listen, they are unable to truly comprehend the message which is being relayed. This then leads to misunderstandings and friction, which could then deter the workforce from being creative and productive.

Before beginning a chat or interaction, make sure to stress the importance of active listening. Tell your staff members how inattention and passive listening can prevent them from learning about the different points of view and ideas that are present in the workplace. Role model and set a good example by being an active listener yourself.

Solution: If you want to know how to solve communication problems in a team, you can start by facilitating meaningful two-way dialogues and discussions where the rules of engagement are clearly set out so that people have the chance to both listen and be heard.

3. Cultural differences

Today’s workplace has become more diverse, especially if your organization deals with international clients or has employees abroad. Although there is diversity in the workplace, people still tend to be more persuaded by people from their same culture or backgrounds, therefore, managers face the challenges of communicating with everyone as one cohesive team while managing the dynamics involved in cliques and groups.

Try to mix people of different backgrounds together. Break up small groups and try to have diverse people collaborate on brainstorming activities and projects. Also, communication tools such as corporate desktop wallpaper software, newsletters, and email can potentially decrease the impact of cultural differences. This is because communication is written and is free from accents and impulsive biases and is; therefore, more thought out.

Solution: Cultural awareness training can help large organizations with employees from a variety of backgrounds better understand one another so that there are less misunderstandings and communication issues in business.

communication issues in the workplace

4. Poorly written communication

One of the most common communication problems in the workplace and solutions is unclear and poorly written information. You may opt for different communication tools to get your point across, such as corporate desktop wallpaper software, newsletters, and memos; however, if your materials are poorly written, your messages might cause confusion and frustration amongst your staff members.

Solution: Make sure to always proofread your copy before sending it. You may also opt to ask a colleague to look through your work to help pinpoint any mistakes or typos. Ensure that you use plain and concise language, free from jargon.

5. Lack of interest or motivation

When people are not interested in what is being discussed, or they lack the motivation to work hard, they are more likely to disregard or ignore your messages. While this means that you certainly need to take a look at your internal communications, using tools such as corporate desktop wallpaper software, the intranet, and others can help you reach your staff members so that they feel more motivated and engaged in their work and in the organization.

Solution: Look at delivering your internal communications using tools such as corporate desktop wallpaper software, the intranet, and other more engaging methods that can help you reach your employees in a way that makes them feel more motivated and engaged in their work and in the organization.

6. Information overload

The modern workplace has people receiving more information than ever before, often from competing sources. Whether it's dozens of emails per day, instant messages, Teams conversations, corporate social media, or intranet content, employees may have more information sent to them than they can actually keep up with. This means that important communications can get lost in all the “noise”.

Solution: Invest in specialist communications software, such as DeskAlerts, to bypass these cluttered channels and send information to employees in a way that cannot be skipped or ignored, such as by pop-up alerts or mobile phone notifications.

7. Not communicating with staff at the right time

Many companies with internal communications problems have them because communicating with employees can often be overlooked or seen as being less important than external communications. This can be a costly mistake to make: not keeping your employees properly informed can lead to a myriad of other problems, including affecting your corporate reputation and leading to confusion with your customers and stakeholders.

When employees find out about important information from external sources (the media, social media, etc.) it can lead to confusion or resentment. Similarly, if you’re not telling people about important information and the “rumor mill” is in overdrive, misinformation and gossip will spread, false information will take hold, and you will lose control of the message.

Solution: Always keep employees informed when you have a major announcement to make or have to react to bad news. If possible, tell them before you tell an external audience. Where possible, schedule announcements to employees in advance so you know that they will definitely go at a set date and time.


The above tips will help your employees to build healthy and productive working relationships both with each other, other teams in the organization, and with management. By improving internal communication by adopting best practice techniques and using a variety of internal communication channels, you can watch them excel as they work for a company that values them, listens to them, and respects them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes communication problems in the workplace?

Communication barriers – which encompasses any obstacle to sharing and receiving information – are the main source of communication problems in the workforce. This can include lack of interaction between colleagues, people working different schedules, different communication preferences, the inability to locate information, language barriers and overuse of jargon.

How to fix communication issues at work?

Communication issues at work can be solved by performing an analysis and then adapting communications strategies and methods targeted at addressing the identified issues.

What are the consequences of poor communication in the workplace?

The list of communication barriers  and their consequences include:

  • Mistakes being made
  • Misinformation
  • Lack of direction
  • Poor morale
  • Poor customer service
  • Lower employee engagement
  • High staff turnover
  • Poor workplace health and safety
  • Absenteeism
  • Lower productivity
  • Potential for legal problems
  • Potential for regulatory issues
  • Tarnished corporate reputation

How can poor workplace communication problems be improved?

Poor communication in the workplace can be improved by identifying strengths and weaknesses and implementing communication strategies that incorporate the use of modern tools.

What are the main barriers to communication?

There are several types of barriers of communication including language barriers, physical barriers, psychological barriers, cultural barriers and organizational barriers. 

What are the 3 main types of communication barriers?

The three main types of communication barriers are:

  • Physical barriers: aspects of the physical environment such as too much noise or poor light that can make it difficult for people to hear or see each other properly, hindering effective communication. 
  • Emotional and psychological barriers: these are the emotional or psychological states of the people involved in the communication that can make it difficult to communicate effectively. This can include anger, stress or fear.
  • Semantic barriers: these barriers are related to the use of language and symbols in communication. Semantic barriers of communication examples include situations where the people involved don’t share a common language, or jargon or technical language is used to people who don’t understand it.
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