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Communication noise refers to influences on effective communication that influence the interpretation of conversations. While often looked over, communication noise can have a profound impact both on our perception of interactions with others and our analysis of our own communication proficiency.
Forms of communication noise include psychological noise, physical noise, physiological and semantic noise. All these forms of noise subtly, yet greatly influence our communication with others and are vitally important to anyone’s skills as a competent communicator.
Psychological noise results from preconceived notions we bring to conversations, such as racial stereotypes, reputations, biases, and assumptions. When we come into a conversation with ideas about what the other person is going to say and why, we can easily become blinded to their original message. Most of the time psychological noise is impossible to free ourselves from, and we must simply strive to recognize that it exists and take those distractions into account when we converse with others. This is important to know.
Physical noise is any external or environmental stimulus that distracts us from receiving the intended message sent by a communicator (Rothwell 11). Examples of physical noise include: others talking in the background, background music, a startling noise and acknowledging someone outside of the conversation.
This is noise caused by the sender. i.e., the encoder. This type of noise occurs when grammar or technical language is used that the receiver (the decoder) cannot understand, or cannot understand clearly. It occurs when the sender of the message uses a word or a phrase that we don't know the meaning of, or which we use in a different way from the speaker.
- Rothwell, Dan J. In the Company of Others: An Introduction to Communication. New York: McGraw Hill, 2004