Overcoming interpersonal barriers to communication

In this series, we discuss The Seven Barriers of Communication. This post is dedicated to interpersonal barriers. Stay tuned as we discuss each.

One of the trickiest obstacles to effective communication is interpersonal barriers. The ability to interact with others face-to-face and exchange information clearly through both verbal and non-verbal messages is the basis for much of our everyday communication. Without interpersonal communication skills, it is very hard for an individual to find success in both their professional as well as personal life.

Luckily, these skills can be practiced and improved upon. By identifying behavior patterns that stop us from connecting with others, we can begin to form better habits that enhance all of the relationships in our lives.

Examples of Interpersonal Barriers

All of us have struggled to connect with others at some point or another, but for some, this problem can be perpetual and destructive. Poor self-esteem, social anxiety, and other issues can make it difficult for people to feel comfortable opening up to others, which hurts their ability to communicate feelings accurately to others as well as their ability to interpret others. You might experience these struggles in the following ways:

Lack of participation: It’s impossible to communicate with someone who doesn’t want to. People can appear unwilling to communicate when they don’t speak up when they should, dodge direct questions, or use defensive body language.

Lack of open-mindedness: It’s tough to communicate with someone who refuses to explore different points of view, opinions, or ideas about the world. We must be able to get along with people of different viewpoints to function even at a basic level with other people.

Overcoming Interpersonal Barriers

Whether you’re struggling to reach out to others or you’re dealing with someone who seems difficult to connect with, there are many things you can practice to improve the situation:

Use simple language. When we’re having difficulty connecting, overly complex words and ideas might be the things standing in the way. Break down your conversation into it’s simplest parts and try again. We all come with our own biases, backgrounds, and interpretations of the world, and it’s easy for two people to have entirely different views of the conversation at hand. Leave as little up to interpretation as possible, and stick to the facts.

Practice active listening. When we’re struggling to communicate, we often spend too much time focusing on our own words, and not enough time listening and responding. Next time you find yourself in conflict with another, instead of finding new and different ways to restate your opinions or ‘win’ the argument, try asking questions and actively listening to the answer. Don’t cut off your speaker, and ask follow up questions. After all, listening is half of communication.

Stay calm. The hardest part of working through a communication barrier is keeping your frustrations in check. Remember, you’re not going to get your point across any clearer by seeming annoyed. Stay calm, and most importantly be patient. Give the conversation that time it needs.

Provide feedback. We could all learn a lot about our communication styles and skills if we got more feedback from others. Don’t be afraid to share constructive criticism when it would genuinely help the other person communicate more productively with others.

Final Thoughts

What are some of your favorite strategies for bridging interpersonal barriers to communication? Share them with us on Twitter!