Introduction/BackgroundCommunication is essential to our social, economic and productive aspects of our lives. While good communication strategies are important, it is important to understand what the barriers and filters are which can create challenges. Those challenges come in the form of barriers and filters that can distort or dampen communications so that messages are missed or misunderstood. Barriers and filters to communication can include a failure to make an impression on the other party, not listening, arguing with the intent to harm, criticism, hostility, hostility, ignoring body language and ignoring the cycle of communication (Hogan, 2003).

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Communication Barriers And Filters

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Facts and Findings
Apathy and disinterest
Apathy are having little interest in the communication by one of the parties to the communication can pose a challenge as it filters out much of the content of the messages being transmitted (Hogan, 2003). Hogan (2003) describes the specific problem of not listening and failing to make an impression. These are related to one another, in that if at the outset of a communication one party does not feel that anything important will be communicated, then they will not be aware if there is something of importance in the message. Disinterest and apathy which results in not trying to hear the message do send a strong meta level message to the sender that they themselves are not important to the target of the message.

Body language
Body language can be a serious challenge for good communications, particularly if they are misunderstood. It is traditionally understood that up to ninety percent of communication is not –verbal, with the impression made by the sender’s tone, body language and factors in the environment composing much of the rest of the content of the message (State of New South Wales Department of Education and Training, 2008). To that end, of the body language of the sender sends the wrong message, it becomes part of the received message impacting the response and the compounding cycle of misunderstood messages.

To make things more confusing body language has different meanings and connotations in different cultures (Spencer-Rodgers & McGovern, 2002). Intercultural communications are therefore at a high risk for this communication barrier.

The cycle of communication
Communication occurs in a cycle, and when a party to communication fails to respect that cycle then communication content can break down. The process of this cycle is simple: a send sends a message, and that message is received and a response is formulated and delivered, and the receiver of the last message becomes the sender of the next. This cycle can become broken when, for example, one does not leave time for a response, or a response takes too long. When the cycle is not operating in a functional way one of the parties, if not both, are likely to become frustrated, which can bring negative emotions into the factors affecting communication. Negative emotions

Negative emotions, including hostility, anger and contempt can be a barrier to communications as they have an impact on the extent to which a message is received. It simply becomes more difficult to process information and remember things when one is experiencing negative emotions (Nabi, 1999). It becomes more difficult to receive and understand communications, and this also has a negative impact on the formulation of the response (Nabi, 1999).

Avoiding barriers and filters to good communication requires planning and being able to identify the potential problems. Given that major challenges are apathy, body language, respecting the cycle of communications and negative emotions it is possible to define actions and techniques that can help to prevent or avoid such obstacles.

  • Hogan, K. (2003). Can’t Get Through: Eight Barriers to Communication. Pelican Publishing.
  • Nabi, R. L. (1999). A cognitive‐functional model for the effects of discrete negative emotions on information processing, attitude change, and recall. Communication theory, 9(3), 292-320.
  • Spencer-Rodgers, J., & McGovern, T. (2002). Attitudes toward the culturally different: The role of intercultural communication barriers, affective responses, consensual stereotypes, and perceived threat. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 26(6), 609-631.
  • State of New South Wales Department of Education and Training. (2008). “Communicate effectively with culturally diverse persons”. Retrieved from: