1. Filtering: The deliberate manipulation of information to make it appear more favorable to the receiver. For example, when a person tells his or her manager what the manager wants to hear, that individual is filtering information. The extent of filtering tends to be a function of the number of vertical levels in the organization and the organizational culture. The more vertical levels there are in an organization, the more opportunities there are for filtering.
2. Emotions: How a receiver feels when a message is received influences how he or she interprets it. Extreme emotions are most likely to hinder effective communication. In such instances, people often disregard rational and objective thinking processes and substitute emotional judgments.
3. Information overload: Occurs when the amount of information a person is required to work with exceeds that individual’s processing capacity. What happens when individuals have more information than they can sort or use? They tend to select out, ignore, pass over, or forget information. Or, they may put off further processing until the overload situation is over.
4. Defensiveness: When people feel that they’re being threatened, they tend to react in ways that reduce their ability to achieve mutual understanding. That is, they become defensive—engaging in behaviors such as verbally attacking others, making sarcastic remarks, being overly judgmental, and questioning others’ motives.
5. Language: Words mean different things to different people. Age, education, and cultural background are three of the more obvious variables that influence the language a person uses and the definitions he or she gives to words. People may speak the same language, but use of that language is far from uniform. Senders tend to assume that the words and phrases they use mean the same to the receiver as they do to them. This is incorrect and creates communication barriers.
6. National culture: Interpersonal communication isn’t conducted in the same way around the world. In the United States, communication patterns tend to be individual oriented and clearly spelled out. U.S. managers rely heavily on memoranda, announcements, position papers, and other formal forms of communication to state their positions on issues. In collectivist countries, such as Japan, there’s more interaction for its own sake and a more informal manner of interpersonal contact.
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