The 4 Types of Noise in Communication

February 07, 2022

Not all noise is created equal. There are four types of noise during communication that can make it more difficult to understand the other things going on around you. Read on to learn more about the four types of noise in communication.

Physical Noise

Physical noise includes the sounds created around you every day. It occurs externally and may distract you from what you are trying to hear. For instance, someone whispering in a classroom can disrupt a presentation given by a teacher. Other examples of physical noise include: 

  • A baby crying when they wake up from a nap. 
  • A concert taking place outside. 
  • Loud music playing in a passing car. 

Physiological Noise

Physiological noise occurs when you encounter a barrier to hearing. It could be a barrier you create, or it may be an issue with another person speaking. It encompasses physical problems such as being hard of hearing or not being able to differentiate low noises. Other kinds of physiological noise include: 

  • Talking too fast or too slow. 
  • Not pausing to breathe while speaking. 
  • Having trouble articulating a thought or mumbling. 

Psychological Noise

Psychological Noise

Psychological noise refers to the noise in your head that can prevent you from concentrating. It may include wandering thoughts, like switching topics too quickly, making it difficult for the listener to follow your narrative. People who think they know something already also have psychological noise in their heads. Other examples include: 

  • Closed-mindedness that leads you to discount ideas. 
  • Sarcasm when someone disagrees with your views. 
  • Thinking about an unrelated topic during a conversation. 

Semantic Noise

Semantic noise occurs when people try to communicate about something but lack the common background or knowledge to share ideas effectively. They may have different primary languages or rely on a separate dialect. Sometimes cross-cultural communications can result in semantic noise and add to misunderstandings. Additional examples include: 

  • Using jargon that another person misunderstands or isn’t familiar with.
  • Misinterpreting body language, such as eye contact or voice tone. 
  • Speaking words that can have two different meanings. 

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