Emotional Barrier

Emotional Barriers to Effective Communication

Emotional barriers are due to mental limitations created by one’s own self. Emotional barrier is one of numerous barriers within the subclass of intra-personal barriersOpens in new window.

Under stress or in an emotional state of mind people are not able to see things as they otherwise would. SendersOpens in new window can encodeOpens in new window and receiversOpens in new window decodeOpens in new window messages only in the context of their psychological frames of reference—individual’s unique backgrounds, perceptions, values, needs, and expectations. Another agent known as Filtering, also plays an important role here.

Filtering means that more often than not, we see and hear what we are emotionally tuned in to see and hear. Filtering is caused by our own needs and interests, which guide our listening. When the sender’s frame of reference overlaps very little with the receiver’s, communication becomes difficult.

An emotional state of mind plays an important role in the communication processOpens in new window. People base their encoding or transmitting of information on their personal experiences, perceptionsOpens in new window and expectations.

This state of the sender’s mind is sure to be reflected in one's messageOpens in new window. For example, if the sender of the message is perplexed, worried, excited, afraid, nervous or in a disturbed state of mind, the sender’s thinking will be blurred and the message will not be organized properly. Similarly, the emotions of the receiver also affect the communication process. If the receiver is upset about something, that state of mind will come in the way of their perception of the message.

Studies show that an individual with high emotional intelligence (EI) is likely to be more emotionally stable and is far less affected by these emotional barriers than an individual who scores low on emotional intelligence or is emotionally unstable. For instance, in a workplace, the same warning (say, for a missed deadline) given by the same supervisor may be differently received and reciprocated by an emotionally stable employee and an emotionally unstable employee. Where the former may take the warning at face value and try to meet it, the latter may either ignore it or react disagreeably to it.