Obviously we can’t communicate perfectly all the time, and certain barriers will get in the way. It’s helpful to be aware of these so you can either a) try and eliminate them or b) manage them.
When you’re stressed or emotionally overwhelmed, you’re more likely to misread other people, send confusing or off-putting nonverbal signals, and lapse into unhealthy knee-jerk patterns of behaviour. To avoid conflict and misunderstandings, it might be helpful to pause before responding or practice de-escalation techniques.
Lack of focus
There’s nothing worse than talking to someone and knowing their mind is elsewhere. It’s impossible to communicate effectively when you’re multitasking. If you’re checking your phone, on your computer, thinking about what you’re going to say next, or off with the fairies, you’ll miss key words and nonverbal cues in the conversation. To communicate effectively, you need to avoid distractions and stay focused.
Speaking different languages is a huge barrier to communicating effectively – there’s only so much we can get across through gestures and signals. Additionally, not everyone has the same vocabulary – think about how you communicate with your child as opposed to your colleague. We need to tailor our language to suit the person we are communicating with.
The saying absence makes the heart grow fonder isn’t always true! When communicating with someone who lives in another state or country (think remote working, long distance relationships etc), a conscious effort is required to maintain deep connections. That’s where things like facetime are great because they allow us to see facial expressions and some body language, rather than making assumptions.
If you disagree with or dislike what’s being said, you might use negative body language to reject the other person’s message, such as crossing your arms, avoiding eye contact, or tapping your feet. You don’t have to agree with, or even like what’s being said, but to communicate effectively and not put the other person on the defensive, it’s important to avoid sending negative signals.