How Does Noise Affect Communication?

How Does Noise Affect Communication?

How can noise affect communication? It reduces speech intelligibility, wears people off due to the need to shout, or can even harm your hearing, thus making future communication even more difficult. In this article, we focus on the relationship between noise and communication and the ways to prevent its negative impact. Did we spark your attention? Then feel free to read on!

How Can Noise Affect Communication?

The louder the environment in which we are is, the more difficult it is to communicate – that’s a truth that everybody knows. Yet, have you ever wondered how exactly noise affects communication? Below, you can find a list of some of its most disruptive effects:

  • Decreased focus – It’s harder for us to focus when there is a lot of noise. While this is most important while working, it may affect our communication as well. Due to loud noise, we might be too distracted to keep track of everything that the other person is saying and thus unable to follow up on their thoughts.
  • Lowered speech intelligibility – With noise suffers the sound quality in a room, and with that, speech intelligibility. The more noise there is, the harder it will be to understand your speaker, and you might need them to repeat themselves quite often to fully grasp what they are saying.
  • Exhaustion – Noise is also tiring in communication – it requires us to speak louder and put more effort into understanding the other party. This leads to us being more tired with a conversation, without the energy to pay attention after some time.
  • Distortions – Speech intelligibility does not seem like a major problem when noise leads to its other consequence: distortions. These can be much more dangerous, as they might not always be clearly visible and might lead to major misunderstandings.
  • Hearing impairment – Another negative impact of noise on communication is that it leads to permanent hearing damage or even loss. While the effects aren’t instant, they will be visible after just a few years. This is one of the most crucial reasons why companies have to invest in soundproofing – they are most likely to feel the consequences as their employees’ hearing slowly goes away.
  • Stress – The psychology of silence makes it clear: the more noise, the more stressful the people become. This is quite crucial in terms of communication. Under stress, we are likely to make less thought-through decisions, but our choices at work are often worth thousands, if not millions, of dollars.
  • Irritation and aggression – Noise is also irritating and might even lead to aggression, especially if fueled by a stressful situation. Airport customer service employees are an example of those who can experience this – as airports are extremely loud, passengers are more likely to lose their temper when a problem with their travel occurs.

Eliminating Noise to Improve Communication

Knowing how noise affects communication, you probably realize how important it is to eliminate or at least minimize it. The ways to do that vary, depending on the type of space, noise intensity and source, but there are some solutions that will prove useful in almost any circumstances:

  • Acoustic panelsAcoustic panels blend in seamlessly with any decor and often have excellent sound absorption qualities, making them the perfect choice for offices, schools and smaller public spaces. However, using them for a larger, open-plan building, take an airport, for example, might be ineffective or at least difficult to conduct.
  • Acoustic blankets – These will be best for warehouses and large industrial open spaces. Acoustic blankets may be hung to section a wide area into smaller ones, thus preventing sound from traveling and improving communication. You might not be planning the next marketing campaign worth thousands of dollars in a warehouse or a factory; still, you do communicate to perform tasks safely there, so it’s crucial for this communication to be smooth.
  • Soundproof booths – Larger office booths are the perfect solution if you wish to improve communication in an office. With them, you can kill two birds with one stone: provide a quiet place for teams to communicate, and move some of the conversations away from the open space, reducing the noise overall.

The Takeaway

Sounds are everywhere, but when they get too loud, they become a major problem. You now understand in detail how noise can affect communication, thus how important stopping it is. But, with proper soundproofing and some innovative solutions, like office booths, you can reduce the noise significantly and create a better environment for your employees and clients to communicate. So, there is no excuse to overlook noise anymore – it’s time to act.

Did you like this article? We also recommend reading: The Future of Workspaces – Exploring the Popularity of Office Phone Booths
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