Factors That Can Inhibit Effective Communication

Updated April 17, 2017

Effective communication involves both the body and the mind. Misinterpreted signals are often the source of difficulties in communication between people. Remember that each person has a set of values and approaches that substantially affect how they interact with others. Effective communication involves an openness in both verbal and nonverbal expression.

Body Language

A person's body language plays a big role in effective communication. Body language sends an unconscious message about a person's openness to communication. Examples of closed body language are arms crossed at the chest or a person hunched over in their seat with crossed legs. Turning away from the person instead of facing them directly also indicates an unwillingness to talk. A person with more open body language, such as arms resting comfortably at his or her sides, shows that the person wants to effectively communicate. There's a direct link between how people choose to hold themselves physically and the effectiveness of the discussion.

Cultural Differences

Cultural differences can inhibit effective communication. For example, many Mexicans have a smaller personal space than people of Caucasian descent. A Mexican may move in more closely to talk or even touch a person's shoulder or forearm to make a point. This could be interpreted as inappropriate by someone not of Latino descent or not familiar with Latino communication styles.

Conflict Management Skills

A person who is afraid of conflict may do everything in his or her power to avoid any difficulties, even if their point is valid. This could be perceived as a block or defence mechanism. Another type of person may find conflict to be a routine element of effective communication. This person could be seen as always looking for a fight.

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About the Author

Born in New York City, Elizabeth Carrillo has worked as a bilingual freelance writer and translator since 2009. She contributes to various websites with articles on soccer and Mexico. Carrillo holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University.