MBA Case Study of Communication Barriers in Sainsbury’s Richmond branch


Communication is defined as the method of conveying information along with common understanding between the persons. The term communication is coined from the Latin word where ‘communis‘ means common. The definition supports the fact that there exists no communication process sans common understanding that is arisen due to the mutual information exchange between the persons in place.

     The common ingredients in every communication process are the receiver and the sender. The sender triggers the communication process. For instance, in a school, the sender is a person who thrives to deliver a concept or an ideology. The individual to whom the message is directed is considered as the receiver. The sender while conveying the message transmits it with the support of chosen words, gestures or symbols. These words, symbols and gestures are the elements involved in the encoding process of the message.

The outcome of the encoding process results in the conveyance of a message which may be of a verbal, nonverbal or a written language form. The message is propagated through a medium or a channel that serves as a carrier to the communication process. The message received by the receiver is decoded to attain meaningful information.  Noise is the one that interrupts the message. The various forms of noise include varied perceptions of message, emotions, attitudes and language barriers. Ultimately, feedback is the response sent back to the sender by the receiver. Feedback enables the sender to understand that the message is understood and properly interpreted. 


The quality in the communication process is largely determined by the elements involved in the communication process. The more effective these elements are, the more effective is the process of communication. There are elements like the media or channel in the communication process, the sender’s body language, the receivers understanding, perception, attitudes etc. The misplacement or the ineffectiveness of these elements leads to barriers in communication process. There are four kinds of barriers in the communication process namely the process barriers, physical barriers, semantic barriers and psycho-social barriers. 

Process barriers 

Sender barrier:  A new junior manager with a novel idea hesitates to convey his idea in the meeting, chaired by the vice-president, due to fear of criticism 

 Encoding barrier: A Welsh-speaking customer cannot absorb an English-speaking service employee to understand the special offerings of a store. 

Medium barrier:  A very disgusted staff member conveying his hard feelings in a letter to the manager instead of expressing the feelings face-to-face. 

Decoding barrier: A old senior manager is unsure of what a younger junior manager meant when he referred to a employee as “spaced out”.

Receiver barrier: A manager who is conveying the operational strategy of the company to the employee asks him to repeat the statement as she was not hearing carefully to the conversation

Feedback barrier: During a strategic meeting in the organisation , employees failed to respond to the conveyed strategy by the manager making the manager wonder if proper interpretation has occurred.

Physical Barriers

                There may be some physical interruptions in the process of communication which may be anything like a telephone call, distance between people, walls, and drop-in visitors. Usually physical barriers are not taken into account seriously but they can be evaded. For instance, a wall may be a hindrance while communicating in the work space and it can be re-positioned.

Semantic Barriers

               Communication barriers are evident when we use some words in some situations which may mean different to some others. The intention of the application of the word in the situation is based on the meaning we attach to the word. This problem is said to be semantic where the same word may be understood differently by other people. The words efficiency, potentiality, enhanced productivity may mean like one thing to a manager and it may be understood differently by the staff member who may be an employee.

Psychosocial Barriers

                   Three important aspects are concerned with the psychological and social barriers. They are fields of experience, filtering and psychological distance. The general elements involved in the aspect of ‘fields of experience’ include perceptions, needs, background of people, values and expectations. The encoding process of the sender and the decoding process of the receiver occur on the premise of their fields of experience.

When the sender and receiver belong to the same fields of experience, the communication process is smooth without many barriers. Nevertheless, the communication gets difficult in the case of their fields of experiences coincide very little. Filtering refers to our emotional orientation which is tuned to see and hear what is needed and what is interested or desired. The process of filtering determines what we listen. Psychological barriers occur with respect to the psychological distance between the people than that of the usual physical distance.

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