Noise is any factor that interferes with or impedes effective communication between a sender and receiver. When noise disrupts the communication process or prevents the transmission of information, it is said to be communication noise.
Understanding noise in communication
Noise in communication describes any impediment to the transmission of messages between sender and receiver.
During communication, noise may distract the person receiving the message to the point where they do not hear it completely.
Noise may also hinder the sender’s ability to communicate the message in the way they intended.
Noise has the potential to have a major impact on how we view our interactions with others and also on our perceived communication proficiency.
When information is misunderstood in some way, mistakes, confusion, hurt feelings, and even panic can result. In an organizational setting, communication noise has significant implications for marketing, company culture, and brand equity, to name a few contexts.
Types of communication noise
Noise in communication can be broadly divided into six types.
1 – Physical noise
Physical noise, also known as environmental noise, encompasses any type of external sound or stimuli such as passing traffic, thunderstorms, loud music, extreme temperatures, pop-up advertisements, and crowds.
Those who walk past a window or door while a meeting is in place and distract their co-worker is also an example of physical noise.
2 – Semantic noise
Semantic noise arises when there is confusion over the meaning of words and may be grammatical, autochthonous (cultural), complex, or technical in nature.
This type of noise tends to be caused by senders who transmit information that contains abstract concepts, improper context, professional jargon, regional colloquialisms, and grammatical or technical errors.
Doctors who communicate to patients using medical terminology, for example, may find that the patient is unable to understand them.
3 – Physiological noise
This refers to any physiological factor that may affect communication. It may be present in someone who is sick, tired, hungry, on medication, under the influence of alcohol, or has an actual hearing impairment.
4 – Psychological noise
Psychological noise is based on concepts such as personal bias, prejudice, and narrow-mindedness. Those who are highly emotional or suffer from mental illness may also find it difficult to understand others or communicate their thoughts.
5 – Cultural noise
Cultural noise, as the name suggests, arises when either the sender or receiver misinterprets the cultural expectations, values, attitudes, etiquette, or non-verbal cues of the other.
Prejudices, stereotypes, and discrimination are also forms of cultural noise that can hinder team and organizational performance.
6 – Technical noise
Technical noise refers to problems with equipment such as slow connectivity, microphone feedback, or a server that goes down in the middle of an important presentation.
- Noise in communication describes any impediment to the transmission of messages between sender and receiver.
- Noise has the potential to have a major impact on how we view our interactions with others and also on our perceived communication proficiency.
- Noise in communication can be broadly divided into six types: physical, semantic, physiological, psychological, cultural, and technical.