Writing Effectively at The World Health Organization

Identify barriers to effective writing

Writing is effective when it communicates a message and achieves your purpose.

Sometimes barriers to communication can prevent understanding of the message, making writing ineffective. Sometimes barriers can lessen the credibility of your message. For example, if you send a letter without proofreading it for correct spelling and grammar, your reader may not understand all of the words, or may be annoyed since you seem not to have taken the time to communicate clearly. Either reaction is a barrier for you in communicating with your reader. Or you may have asked a colleague to help you with an urgent project, but you realize that she has been encouraged by her manager to cut back on her workload. This presents a barrier for your request that you need to consider; otherwise, your request is bound to receive a poor reception.

Another way to think of these barriers to communication is to view them as noise that interferes in the communication process. If you are speaking to someone face-to-face in a very noisy room, it can be difficult (although not impossible) to communicate your message. That is an example of physical noise that prevents communication. Perceptual barriers, semantic barriers and cultural barriers are examples of noise that can interfere with written communication.

© WHO 2011