Emotional Barriers to Communication

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Communication is a two-way street. Whether you're talking about communicating with friends, family, workmates or mere acquaintances, communicating is about sharing information and listening. Unfortunately, everyone faces various emotional barriers that make one or both ends of the equation difficult.

By identifying some of these barriers, you can begin to work to overcome them and start communicating more effectively.

Vulnerability and Fear

Vulnerability, whether it manifests itself as fear, shyness, mistrust or restraint, is probably the biggest emotional barrier that disrupts clear communication. Many people are told that their opinion doesn't matter or that they must bite their tongue early in life, and that sense of vulnerability and fear of rejection carries over into adult relationships. You may not effectively say what you want to say because you're afraid that the person at the other end of the conversation will either dismiss your opinion or outright reject you. This not only hinders many people from expressing very valuable opinions, but can also prevent them from forming solid relationships in general.

Lack of Empathy

If a person has issues feeling empathetic toward others, he will have trouble both communicating himself and making others feel comfortable talking to him. If you cannot put yourself in the shoes of the person you're trying to talk to, you will find it much more difficult to get your point across. Try to imagine how the person will react and be sensitive to those reactions. If you can overcome your own emotional barrier (a lack of empathy) it will help the listener to overcome a sense of vulnerability or fear of rejection that he might be experiencing.

Knowing Your Emotions

When trying to get a point across, some people are not entirely aware of the emotional attachment that they have to their point. For example, if you are trying to communicate a political point that you are particularly passionate about, you may not even know that you are projecting feelings of anger that are negatively affecting the person listening to you. Be in touch with your emotional attachment to your subject matter and try to channel that emotion effectively rather than losing control and becoming erratic.

Listening Barriers

Listening is just as key in communication as speaking is. To listen correctly and to help the speaker overcome his own emotional barriers, you will have to work past some emotional barriers connected with listening. This means overcoming the feeling of competing for air time---do not simply wait for your turn to speak so that you satisfy the emotional need to be heard. Do not sit there and act like you know the answer to the person's problem or rush to be helpful without really listening to what the person has to say. Listen carefully and take the person's words into account before making your own point.