Barriers to Communication

“Nothing is so simple that it cannot be misunderstood”  Freeman Teague, Jr.

Filtering is the manipulation of the message by the sender to make the message more favourable to the receiver.


Selective perception

A person receives a message subject to their own beliefs, education status, background, motivations, needs and experience.   This may distort the original message as the receiver attends to the components of the message that make sense, fit with their expectations and what they would like to hear.  Past experiences can change the meaning of the message.  People often hear what they want to hear and this can interfere with the communication process.
It is common knowledge that you pick the ‘right’ time to deliver your message.  People’s emotions can play a large part in how they interpret a message.  Extreme emotions are most likely to distort the message and can result in an emotional judgment rather than objective thinking about the issue.  Stress is one example where people will see things differently.

“When you have finished on the jumbo, have crib, do four hours on the bogger, hit the dry mess and then back to the donger by 8pm.”


“Is that clear?”


Words have very different meanings to different people.  We may all speak the same language however the meaning we allocate to the same words can be very different.   Many variables affect the language we use including age, cultural background and education.  Someone who did not complete a high school education may get by on as little as 500 words.

  “I have no idea of what I am supposed to have done wrong!”


Focusing on ourselves
Focusing on ourselves, and our thoughts and feelings about the communication can lead us to miss the major meaning in the message.  Some of the factors that can lead to this are defensiveness, a feeling of superiority and ego.


These barriers can be thought of as filters.  The message leaves the sender, passes through the filter which are all the barriers looked at above which can result in a message which is very different from the one intended.   This filtering process can distort the original intention of the message offering potential opportunities for conflict to arise.