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Overcoming Communication Barriers with Coworkers

Communication barriers and core collaboration with coworkers are strong sources of conflict in the workplace.

Communication barriers and core collaboration with coworkers are strong sources of conflict in the workplace. Here are some suggestions to help minimize the friction points that tend to be embedded in conflict.

Effective collaboration is crucial for success in today's interconnected and fast-paced work environment. However, one common challenge that often arises is the feeling of being blocked out by coworkers. This situation can hinder productivity, create misunderstandings, and hinder team cohesion. To overcome this issue, individuals should implement proactive strategies that foster open communication, build trust, and promote a culture of collaboration. In this article, we will explore various techniques to navigate and overcome being blocked out by coworkers.

Active Listening and Empathy

Miscommunication can quickly arise when individuals fail to actively listen to their coworkers. Being a good listener involves more than just hearing words; it entails paying attention to tone, body language, and underlying emotions.

By practicing active listening and empathy, you demonstrate an authentic interest in what your coworkers say, thus fostering stronger connections.

Additionally, showing empathy towards their perspectives and concerns helps break down barriers and make them feel understood and like a valued team member.

Transparent Communication

Transparency is critical to dispelling feelings of being blocked out. Be forthright about your thoughts, opinions, concerns, and desired outcomes. If you notice any communication gaps or misunderstandings, address them promptly. Transparency encourages a culture of openness and offers the opportunity for your coworkers to reciprocate the behavior, ultimately leading to more effective collaboration.

Regular Check-ins and Feedback Sessions

One Harvard business review article revealed employees crave genuine connections not just with their colleagues, but also across hierarchies within their organization.

Scheduled check-ins and feedback sessions provide a structured platform to discuss work-related matters openly. By setting aside time for these interactions, coworkers can exchange ideas, share progress, and offer constructive feedback. These sessions promote communication and create an environment that values everyone's input.

Utilize Technology Wisely

Modern technology offers a plethora of tools designed to enhance collaboration. Platforms like project management software, communication apps, and video conferencing tools enable coworkers to stay connected regardless of geographical barriers. Efficient use of technology ensures that no team member is unintentionally excluded from crucial discussions or updates.

Cultivate a Culture of Inclusivity

Building a culture of inclusivity requires collective effort. Team leaders and members should actively encourage participation from everyone during meetings and brainstorming sessions. Acknowledging and valuing diverse viewpoints creates an environment where everyone feels heard and respected, reducing the likelihood of individuals feeling blocked out.

Open Door Policy

Leaders can play a significant role in overcoming communication barriers by having an open-door policy. This is where team members can approach supervisors or colleagues with their concerns or ideas, fostering a sense of belonging and trust. This approach not only helps prevent misunderstandings but also strengthens relationships. Although positive, this option can also have some pitfalls that must be considered. I will address this in a separate article.

Conflict Resolution Skills

Conflicts are inevitable in any collaborative setting. Instead of avoiding conflicts, develop healthy conflict resolution skills. It can be easy for fellow contributors to feel slighted if their suggestions are not implemented, or their opinions are overlooked. So, when disagreements arise, address them calmly and professionally. Seek common ground and focus on solutions rather than dwelling on differences. Constructive conflict resolution prevents feelings of exclusion and paves the way for more effective collaboration.

Overcoming the challenge of communication barriers with coworkers requires a combination of communication skills, empathy, and a shared commitment and desire to be collaborative. By practicing active listening, maintaining transparent communication, utilizing technology, and fostering a culture of inclusivity, individuals and teams can break down communication barriers and build stronger, more effective working relationships. Remember, effective collaboration is not just necessary; it's an asset that drives success in the modern workplace.


Lincoln Brown, a conflict coach with Conflictish, is a former Hostage negotiator who specializes in helping leaders overcome their own conflict-causing behaviors.

Are you a leader who is interested in developing your conflict competency with Lincoln? Reach out today:


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