What are psychological barriers to communication?

Psyche means mind. Psychological barriers are created in the mind. Communication is a mental activity and its aim is to create understanding. But the human mind is complex and not all communication can result in understanding. There are several kinds of psychological barriers which can come in the way of understanding.

1. Emotions

Emotions are among the most common psychological barriers to communication. The emotion may be connected to the communication received or it may be present in the sender‘s or receiver‘s mind, even before the communication takes place. In both cases, it acts as a barrier. Emotions can be positive, like happiness and joy, or negative, like fear, anger, mistrust etc. Both positive and negative emotions act as barriers, if they are not kept in check.

2. Prejudice

A prejudice is an opinion held by a person for which there is no rational basis or valid reason. It can be against something or someone, or in favour of it, but it becomes a barrier to a meaningful communication. Prejudices are based on ignorance and lack of information, e.g., prejudices about certain communities or groups of people.

3. Halo Effect

Sometimes our reactions to people are not balanced or objective; they are of an extreme nature. Either we like a person so much that we can find no shortcomings in her/him, or we dislike someone so much that we can see nothing good in her/him. In both cases, we commit errors of judgment and fail to understand the person.

4. Self-Image or Different Perceptions

Every person has in her/his mind a certain image of herself/himself. S/he thinks of herself/himself in a certain way. This is their perception of themselves, their self-image. One‘s self- image is the product of one‘s heredity, one‘s environment and one‘s experiences, and thus every person‘s self- image is unique and different from the others. Self-image can create a barrier because we accept communication which is compatible with our self-image. We avoid or reject communication, which goes against our perception of ourselves.

5. Closed Mind

A closed mind is one which refuses to accept an idea or opinion on a subject, because it is different from his idea. Such persons form their opinion on a subject, and then refuse to listen to anyone who has something different to say about it. A closed mind may be the result of some past experience or just habit. It is very difficult to remove this psychological barrier.

6. Status

Status refers to rank or position. It could be economic, social or professional status. In any organisation, hierarchy creates differences in rank, and this is a normal situation. Thus, status by itself does not cause barriers; but when a person becomes too conscious of his status, whether high or low, then status becomes a barrier. For instance, in a business organisation, a senior executive who is unduly conscious of his seniority will not communicate properly with his juniors, and will refrain from giving them the required information. Similarly, if a junior is acutely conscious of his junior status, he will avoid communicating with his seniors, even when it is necessary

7. Inattentiveness and Impatience

Sometimes the receiver may not pay attention to the sender‘s message, or he may be too impatient to hear the message fully and properly. Such barriers are common in oral communication.

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