Emotional Barriers to Effective Communication

Whether you want to run a successful business or maintain close ties to friends, family and love interests, effective communication is one important element to keep in mind. Effective communications involves more than just speaking, it involves active listening as well. However, strong negative emotions can interfere with one or both of these aspects of communication. This can lead to miscommunication, hurt feelings and even severed ties. Learn about common emotional roadblocks to communication, so you can find ways to clear your mind before engaging others.

Two people are having a conversation in an office setting. (Image: altrendo images/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Anger Hinders Communication

Whether a heated argument has you upset with the person you’re speaking to or a bad day has you on edge with everyone around you, anger can cause you to lash out and say things you don’t mean. Anger can also affect the way your brain processes information given to you. For example, angry people have difficulty processing logical statements, limiting their ability to accept explanations and solutions offered by others, says John Schafer, a former behavioral analyst for the FBI, in his Psychology Today article, "Controlling Angry People." With this in mind, remove yourself from communication until you feel you can collect your thoughts, think clearly and hold back potentially hurtful and undue comments.

Pride Interferes with Listening

Pride -- or the need to be right all the time -- will not only annoy others, it can shut down effective communication. For example, you might focus only on your perspective, or you might come up with ways to shoot down other people before you even listen to their points. The drive to win every argument or get the last word often spawns from overcompensation, or trying to cover emotional insecurities with a sense of superiority, suggests Erika Krull, a licensed mental health practitioner, in her PsychCentral article, "Marriage Communication: Three Common Mistakes and How To Fix Them." Other people might find you easier to communicate with when you accept your imperfections from time to time, suggests Krull.

Depression Demotivates You

Depression, whether clinical or short-term, can cause a person to isolate himself and block out communication, altogether. Depression can also lead to cold feelings toward loved ones, or irritating and sarcastic remarks, suggests the University of Florida's Counseling and Wellness Center in an article titled, "How to Deal with Depression." However, those who are depressed are often the ones in most need of social support. While short-term sadness will eventually pass – and perhaps more quickly if you open yourself to communication -- clinical depression might require the assistance of a mental health expert.

Anxiousness Distracts You

Anxiety has a negative impact on the part of your brain that manages creativity and communication skills, explains the University of Michigan's Department of Psychiatry in "Anxiety." For example, your constant worries can hinder your ability to concentrate on the information you are giving or receiving. Irritability and restlessness might also push others away from you, decreasing the chances of effective or lengthy communication. While a mental health professional should address anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder or phobias -- typical anxiety, like the anxiety you feel before giving a speech -- can be managed with relaxation exercises.

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