Communication Noise- 5 Types of Noise Barriers in Communication

Communication Noise: 5 types of noise in communication are physical noise, physiological noise, psychological noise, Semantic noise & cultural noise. Definition and Examples of physical noise, physiological noise, psychological noise, Semantic noise & cultural noise.

Communication Noise

Communication noise means any type of barrier to the effective communication process. There are different types of noise in communication that bars the effective process of communication between senders and receivers. The basic 5 types of noise in communication are physical noise, physiological noise, psychological noise, Semantic noise & cultural noise. These noises distract the sender and receiver of the communication process to listen to the message effectively. Noise bars the effectiveness of the communication process therefore it is also known as the barrier to communication. Noise is one of the elements of the 9 elements of the communication process such as Context, Sender, Encoder,  Message, Channel, Decoder, Receiver,  Feedback, and Barriers or Noise

Actually, communication noises are present in all types of the communication process, for example, face-to-face communication, group or team communication, organizational communication, and mediated communication.

The communication process will be more effective, productive, and interactive if there are no noises present. Many scholars are researching to find out the solution to overcome noises in communication. In fact, researchers have identified that in the U.S.A, business organizations are losing billions of dollars due to noise in communication.

Example of noise in communication

Ela is very sick and she is having rest at home. She calls her husband to bring some medicines and they are interacting on a mobile phone. At the same time, her daughter Elon is watching television with high volume. Therefore, Ela could not understand exactly what her husband says to her. So, she asks her husband again to be confirmed.

Television sounds are physical noise and her sickness is an example of physiological noise.

5 Types of Noise in Communication

The most basic 5 types of noise in communication are physical noise, physiological noise, psychological noise, Semantic noise, and cultural noise. Although there are some additional noises in the communication process such as syntactical, emotional, medium noises, encoding and decoding noises, etc. 

Communication Noise: 5 types of noise in communication are physical noise, physiological noise, psychological noise, Semantic noise & cultural noise.
Figure 1: 5 Types of Noises in Communication
Five Types of noises in communication are:
  1. Physical Noise
  2. Physiological Noise
  3. Psychological Noise
  4. Cultural Noise
  5. Cultural Noise
1. Physical Noise in Communication

Physical noise is the external and unnecessary sound that obstacle to effective communication. It is also a communication disturbance created by the environment. Therefore, physical noise is also known as environmental noise in the communication process

Example of Physical Noise

The outside sound in communication created from the environment. For example, raining sounds, thunderstorms, horns, outside building’s sounds, sounds from fans, lights, and windows are the best example of physical or environmental noise. Apart from that, loud music, barking dogs, noisy conflict nearby, vehicle sounds are also examples of physical noise. 

2. Physiological Noise in Communication

Physiological noise is a communication barrier created from the communicator’s physical condition. Usually, physical illness and weakness produce physical noise, and this noise obstacle to effective communication. 

Example of Physiological Noise

For example, Ela is having headaches therefore she can not concentrate in class. Here, headache is a physical illness that barriers to the listening process of communication.  Apart from that, deafness and blindness are the physical weakness or physiological noise that barriers to listening. Talking too fast or slow and the high or low temperature in the room also generate physiological noise. 

3. Psychological Noise in Communication

Psychological noise is a communication barrier created from the communicator’s psychological factors for example values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. This type of noise interrupts our minds to concentrate on listening. People don’t like to listen or talk about those topics that make them down or not interesting. 

Example of Psychological Noise

For example, Ela is a Muslim girl, and she does not like to listen to any criticism of Islam. Therefore, she became distracted when her lecturer was talking about anti-Islam issues. Any type of sensitive issues like religious, ethnic, and political are examples of Psychological Noise. Apart from that,  financial crisis, missing a beloved person, the exhausting schedule may originate the psychological noise. 

4.Semantic Noise in Communication

Semantic noise is a communication barrier created from the confusion over the meaning of words. Semantic noise occurred because of different meanings of the message between the sender and receiver. It also refers to the grammatical wrong sentence that makes the receiver unable to understand the meaning. It is called a syntactical barrier or noise.

Syntactical noise is a grammatically wrong sentence that the receiver unable to accomplish the proper meaning. Using difficult language during computer programming is an example of syntactical noise. It is also in contrast to syntactic sugar.

Example of Semantic Noise

Ela is an international student who studies at University Putra Malaysia. She is listening lecture from her Malaysian lecturer. In the meantime, her lecturer says ” I believe SEMUA understand this topic”. SEMUA is a Malaysian word that means everyone. Ela does not understand the meaning of SEMUA as she is not a Malaysian student. It is an example of semantic noise.

Additionally, jargon words, mispronunciations, special words, and the grammatical wrong sentences are also the example of Semantic Noise.

5. Cultural Noise

Cultural noise is a communication barrier created from the wrong explanation of another person’s behaviors. Actually, cultural noise produced due to the wrong meaning of messages, therefore, it is little similar to semantic noise. Especially, cultural noise is created from the nonverbal communication cues for example posture, gesture, eye contact, space, touch, and dress-up. The meaning of nonverbal cues is not the same in every culture and society. Conflicting messages are part of the cultural noises in communication. 

Apart from that, ethnocentrism, prejudices, stereotypes, and discrimination are also examples of cultural noises. These factors bar effective communication in a group or team. The four noises in group communication are ethnocentrism, prejudices, stereotypes, and discrimination.

Example of Cultural Noise

Jon is a Russian citizen who is studying at University Putra Malaysia. He offers his Malaysian woman friend to handshake, but she denied it. He felt very embarrassed. Later, he understood that in Malaysia women do not like to handshake men, and it is a cultural norm.

Additional noises in Communication

Apart from these basic noises in communication, there are many additional noises in different types of the communication process. For example, the most common two types of noises or barriers in organizational communication are encoding-decoding noises and transmitting noises. The encoding-decoding noises in organizational communication are lack of sensitivity to the receiver, lack of basic communication skills, not enough knowledge of the subject, information overload, emotional interference, and so on. Additionally, the transmitting noises in organizational communication are the bad connection of transmitting lines and channel barriers. 

Difference between Noise and Barrier in Communication

Noise and Barrier in communication denote the same meaning, although people use them in different types of context in communications. For example, people use the word noise when they encounter obstacles in face-to-face or group communications. On the other hand, people use the word barrier when they face obstacles in corporate communication or mediated communication. Noise and barrier in communication refer to the obstacle during the interaction between sender and receiver. However, many people including scholars described them as noise barriers. Apart from that, people also term them a distraction, distortion, disturbance, and so on.

In conclusion, in order to make communication more effective, productive, and efficient, communicators need to reduce noises as much as possible.