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Overcoming barriers to communication

No two people perceive the same event in the same way. Each one of us has our own conviction of what we believe is true or false, probable or improbable. Often, stakeholder beliefs as well as those of the project manager or team members influence an attitude, which is the tendency to respond positively or negatively to persons, objects, or situations. In short, perceptions, beliefs, attitudes and values influence the way we see the world and may create noise in a project. Noise is anything that may distort or disrupt the communication process. Noise may be internal or external. Noise creates barriers to communication, which may jeopardize project results.

Ways to overcome barriers to communication:

1. Conduct research

•Review lessons learned documents. These documents record information that is learned as the project progresses. Information contained in these documents is helpful for future projects of similar scope and complexity.

•Review communication discussion documents. Look for information on communication discussions on past projects and their results. Learn about what types of procedures worked and what did not work before implementing them in the future.

2. Determine the communication needs of stakeholders

•Learn about the preferred choice of media, communication style/techniques, and organizational culture, policies, norms and practices.

3. Network

•Learn about the other departments and business units involved in the project.

•Determine the needs and interests internal to the organization.

•Find out about the needs and intereAnother month could possibly be added to the length of time it takes for vehicles exported from Japan to reach The Bahamas, said a car dealership executive, with last week’s deadly tsunami leading to the closure of the Honda factories that send some of those cars out.

“The cars that are already produced and waiting to leave usually take about six weeks to get here,”Nassau Motors Operations Manager Rick Lowe toldGuardian Businessyesterday.”It could be nine to ten weeks now without vehicles imported.

“We know the Honda factories have been closed for the weekend… and we know the research and development center was badly damaged. But other than that, we’re not aware of any real anticipated disruption to Honda other than people getting their lives back together.”

A formal update on the situation from Japan is expected to be released today. Like many other dealerships throughout the country, Nassau Motors orders some of its vehicles from Japan, like the Honda CRV, for example.

Lowe said once things steady on that Asian nation, there may be a surge in water-damaged vehicles being sent to The Bahamas, though nothing has been confirmed.

On Friday, a catastrophic tsunami unleashed by Japan’s biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast. Hundreds of people were killed as everything from ships, cars and homes were washed away and widespread fires burned in its wake.

The earthquake also created waves which washed ashore on Hawaii and the U.S. west coast, where evacuations were ordered from California to Washington. Little damage was reported, however. sts external to the organization(media, government, industry groups etc.)

4. Confirm understanding

•Confirm that the intent of the message sent is accurately received.

•Make certain that you understand what information is valuable to the stakeholder and team members and when and how they want this information communicated to them.

Cox is an author, an instructor of project management certification classes at the Bahamas Institute of Financial Services(BIFS), and president and CEO of Project Management Solutions Ltd. Contacts:, e-mail:, Facebook: Bahamas Project Solutions.

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