Isn’t it frustrating when you tell something to someone, or email them about something, and they didn’t understand, or they don’t remember?
A barrier to communication appeared, and your communication failed. You told them, but they didn’t get the message or didn’t process it or take action on it the way you wanted.
When we speak or write, communicate, our message, what we are saying or meaning to say is not what is heard or understood. When you listen to someone talking or read what they are writing, you don’t necessary hear or read exactly what they meant.
The reason is that we all have filters in place – Kind of like a strainer that separates water from spaghetti noodles or a water filter that filters out all the particles we don’t want to drink. Our filters interpret the messages that we are receiving. This is true for the people we are communicating with as well.
All communication is filtered through past experiences, frustrations, and perceptions of the people communicating. On top of that what’s going on around you and the person you are talking with impacts how the message is received and what the message is received.
These filters act as barriers to communication. Some of the filters or barriers that can impact how your message is received and processed include:
- physical aches and pains
- verbal and non-verbal cues, like tone of voice and body language
For example, it’s obvious that if you are trying to have a private conversation at a rock concert, that the noise is going to be a barrier. Well that same affect is true if the other person has a lot happening in their world at the time, or if they are tired or hurting, or if they come from a completely different culture than you do.
The words we use, and how we say them also make a difference in our communications. The way we are communicating certain words hold very different means. Take the phrase “I hate you”. Said in anger it is hurtful and inappropriate. But said in jest and with a smile, it is fun and a tease. So your tone of voice and body language give the meaning to the words.
In email, you lose the benefit of body language and tone of voice, so the other person has to completely run what you are saying through their filters and experiences to try to understand what you mean. Email leaves a lot of room for misinterpretation.
What I’m writing to you in this article is going your own filters – your past experiences, frustrations, and perceptions. And how you interpret what you just read just went your own filters. The same goes with every bit of communication you have with others.
By being aware of these barriers to communication or filters, you are less like to have your communication fail. If you consider the barriers that can arise and adjust your message for them, you are the road to effective communication with those around you.