Ravi forgot to file a report as he was swamped with work. The truth, however, was that he forgot. He didn’t pay much attention till the day he fumbled through a major presentation because he couldn’t remember key figures and stats. This was a presentation on which he had worked for a month. He also realized that he was finding it difficult to concentrate and pay attention to details.

Finally Ravi consulted a specialist and learned that the problem was a deep-rooted memory issue. He had to overcome physiological limitations and train himself to improve his communication skills. He was dealing with physiological barriers to communication and had to overcome these obstacles to find the success he was looking for in his personal and professional life.


  1. What Is The Definition Of Physiological Barriers?

  2. Examples Of Physiological Barriers

  3. How To Overcome Physiological Barriers To Communication


Communication is an exchange of information between people, places or groups. This exchange can be verbal, non-verbal or written. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Verbal or spoken communication involves speech and occurs face-to-face or through media like telephone, social media and television
  • Non-verbal communication involves body language, gestures or the way we conduct ourselves
  • Written communication involves exchanging messages in writing through letters, emails or texts
  • Visualizations for communication involve graphs, maps, charts or logos and more


Communication plays a crucial role in building relationships, be it with your family or coworkers. It evaluates performance, handles disciplinary problems and analyzes the effectiveness with which instructions are interpreted.

Physiology is the functioning of the body’s various mechanisms. That’s why physiological barriers can stand in the way of effective communication. It can cause misinterpretations and delays. These barriers can limit communication between two people. The result is reduced productivity and hurdles to success. Someone facing such barriers is left frustrated if they aren’t aware they’re dealing with a physiological barrier in communication.

As the modern workplace aims to be a more inclusive and accessible space for all, it’s important for organizations to understand the nature of physiological barriers. Only then can recruiting practices and the general work environment be equitable.


What Is The Definition Of Physiological Barriers?


Physiological barriers to communication are obstacles that impact effective communication because of the condition of the human body and mind. Physical and mental conditions play crucial roles in determining how to effectively convey messages or interpret them. Poor physiological conditions can affect a person’s ability to communicate. Physiological barriers to communication act as sieves that limit the flow of information and create confusion.

Some of the conditions that create physiological barriers are health complications or physical disabilities. Poor hearing and speech impairments are both examples of physiological barriers.  A physical disability is a barrier that people may be born with.  Physical shock or trauma can lead to similar conditions later in life, affecting a person’s  well being.



Examples Of Physiological Barriers


Physiological barriers in communication stem from personal discomfort. People may find it difficult to communicate if they’re experiencing poor mental health, if they have an illness or if they’re limited by a physical disability. Quite often, people with physiological barriers need assistance in writing or speaking fluently to effectively convey their messages. Their inability to structure concise messages and interpret them appropriately can stand in their way.

Have a look at these examples to better understand the meaning of physiological barriers to effective communication:

  • Speech Impairments

Speech is one of the most effective tools for communication. Speech impairments, however, can disrupt speech. While some impairments affect the fluency of speech, others may prevent speech altogether. These occur when nerves and muscles required for speech are affected. A person can become speech-impaired if the area of the brain responsible for controlling speech is damaged, from birth or in the event of an accident or stroke. Few examples of  speech impairments are:

  1. Muteness is the inability to speak.
  2. Speech sound disorder is the inability to produce specific sounds.
  3. Apraxia is inconsistent production of sound or rearranging sounds in a word. It’s caused by illness or stroke.
  4. Cluttering is a speech fluency disorder that exhibits a rapid rate of speech.


  • Hearing Impairment

Vibrations from sound waves are conducted as impulses by the brain that allows us to hear. When the ear or part of the brain that processes sound impulses is damaged, a person can suffer a hearing impairment. Hearing impairments are the most common cause for physiological barriers to listening. They can be partial, complete or progressive. They can impact social development, language and communication. Some causes of hearing impairments are a damaged  eardrum, infections, aging, genetics or exposure to loud noise.


  • Body Language Issues

Physical issues can cause body language that’s  distracting for others. This may be a problem for either the listener or the speaker. Depending on the underlying cause of the issues, it may or may not be possible to address these.


  • Getting Distracted

Listening to someone else speak is a more complex task than it appears. The number of words that a listener can process in a minute is much higher than the number of words spoken. This means that a person can easily get distracted, lose patience or not pay attention to what’s  being said. It’s easy for a person to be involved in other activities while they’re listening, which causes them to lose focus. If either the speaker or the listener is restricted by a physiological disability, it can disrupt effective communication even more.


  • Poor Memory

The human brain is not designed to hold volumes of information but to retain the most important segments of what it takes in. To make communication effective, people need to retain key information and recall it when needed. The ability to hold important information and recall when necessary is known as the retention capacity of the brain. The inability of a person to recall factual information is a result of poor memory or disorders and a major cause of physiological barriers.


  • Selective Perception, Interpretation And Attention

A person’s physiological state decides whether they’ll be attentive and how they’ll perceive and interpret information. Poor mental health due to stress, depression, shock, denial or emotional trauma will affect the body and the way a person interprets messages. They’ll be less alert toward finer details and will miss the opportunity to effectively establish context. Fatigue and illness have a similar effect on a person as they lose the ability to be attentive and establish communication. A person with physiological barriers caused by poor health will be selective about processing information. Sleep deprivation can have a similar effect. A person who meets with an accident will be disoriented from impact and shock which will prevent them from communicating effectively. These can even be caused by workplace-related events or outside stressors.

From the examples of physiological barriers, it’s clear that facing these doesn’t prevent people from having a job or communicating. They’re obstacles that limit the ability of a person to communicate effectively, but we can get the better of them.


How To Overcome Physiological Barriers To Communication


You can overcome physiological barriers to communication by taking  appropriate measures to address the underlying problem.  Not only can these help overcome barriers that are impeding growth, but they can also prevent them from arising in the future. Here’s how to overcome physiological barriers that negatively impact communication:

  • Seek therapy and medical help for physical disabilities. Speech and hearing impairments can be treated with therapy, surgeries or mechanical aids.
  • Learn to listen carefully. Build patience to listen to each detail and avoid distractions. Being restless and impatient can put off the speaker and hinder communication. Develop a note-taking strategy that helps record all the important information. Keep minutes of all meetings.
  • Improve memory by playing memory games and other activities that sharpen your memory. Interact face-to-face as much as possible because it will help retain and recall important information when it’s needed.
  • Learn to understand body language. A person with physiological barriers will exhibit discomfort and understanding body language will help assist in communication. Similarly, a person can learn to improve communication or seek assistance if they realize that they aren’t able to get the message across clearly.
  • Improving overall emotional and physical health can help, too. An anxious mind or an unhealthy body can significantly impact your ability to perceive and interpret information. Seeking out therapy or other medical assistance can make all the difference.
  • Use technology where possible to bridge the gap. Calendar alerts can ensure no appointment is missed for those with memory issues. The ‘read aloud’ function on the computer can help those with trouble reading. If typing is a problem, dictation tools can be of assistance.


The body has to function optimally to interpret information or convey messages effectively. Thankfully, such limitations can be taken care of.  Physiological barriers in communication can be reduced. Organizations can be a part of the solution by creating a level playing field for all their employees. Developing an open environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their concerns is one way to do it. Enabling growth through training opportunities is another.

Harappa’s Building Presence course teaches how to connect with people and build trust. It’ll help the team communicate effectively, be responsive and express their ideas. Learners will master body language techniques from professionals and skills to engage an audience. Learn how to build trust, project authenticity and be emotionally intelligent. Find a unique voice and learn to command attention with Harappa.

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