Communication is the glue that brings people together. It goes beyond conveying and receiving information as it helps build and nurture interpersonal relationships. In the world of work, employers highly value strong communication skills because it’s instrumental in navigating daily activities. Whether it’s an informal water-cooler conversation or networking at a business event, proper communication helps convey thoughts, ideas and messages accurately. There is no room for confusion and your audience perceives the information as intended. Effective communication can make a big difference and take you to new heights in your career.

Despite its wide array of benefits, not everyone is able to always communicate well. Several limitations can interrupt an individual from communicating effectively. You may have observed your colleagues interrupting someone or someone talking loudly at a client meeting. There are various types of interruptions that disrupt communication and an emotional barrier is one such limitation. What is an emotional barrier? Let’s find out!


  1. What Is An Emotional Barrier In Communication?

  2. Emotional Barrier To Communication In The Workplace

  3. How To Overcome An Emotional Barrier In Communication

  4. Communicate With Impact


What Is An Emotional Barrier In Communication?


The meaning of emotional barriers is quite simple and is exactly how it sounds. An emotional barrier is a mental limitation that prevents you from openly communicating your thoughts and feelings. It has the potential of preventing you from being your authentic self as it affects your emotions and feelings. An emotional barrier to communication is often the result of low emotional intelligence, also known as emotional awareness or control. However, a better understanding of our feelings and emotions can help us communicate better.

Overcoming emotional barriers isn’t easy because emotions act as powerful motivators. Not only can they guide us toward our passion but also keep us out of danger. For example, taking an unknown turn on the street causes fear and will make us think twice before we decide to venture on the road not taken. But, at the same time, when left unchecked, emotions can lead us astray. Emotional roadblocks can lead to miscommunication, hurt feelings and severed ties in various aspects of life. This is why it’s essential to keep your emotions in check and find ways to navigate them.

Here are the various types of emotional barriers that keep us from healthy and effective communication. You’ll also learn how each emotional barrier impacts you and others around you:


  • Anger Affects Thinking

Imagine you’re having a heated argument with someone. You may lash out, saying hurtful things that you didn’t mean. Anger can affect the way you behave because your mind processes information in a different way. When anger affects thinking, you’re likely to express yourself in unhealthy ways, negatively impacting your interpersonal relationship(s).


  • Pride Interferes With Listening

Pride is an emotional barrier that influences the way you perceive others. It prevents you from focusing on anyone’s views and opinions other than your own. For example, you’re likely to dominate a conversation because you don’t value what the other person is saying. This prevents you from hearing out what others have to say or contribute to a conversation.


  • Anxiety Causes Distractions

Anxiety and fear are common emotions when it comes to communication. There are various types of anxiety that influence an individual’s communication skills and styles. For example, social anxiety can prevent you from approaching strangers at a party. Generic anxiety can make public speaking seem like an ordeal.


Emotional Barrier To Communication In The Workplace


As we have already established, good communication is the cornerstone of a successful organization. It’s what brings teams together and what accelerates the growth of a project. Additionally, it helps establish trusted networks and connections with different people from various walks of life. However, effective communication not only extends to good verbal skills but also includes non-verbal cues such as body language. For example, a simple shrug at a business conference can convey multiple meanings. It’s essential to brush up on your communication skills in professional settings if you want to exhibit confidence and credibility.

There are various types of emotional roadblocks that exist and here are some everyday examples of emotional barriers in communication at work and how they can impact you:


1. Anger

There are and will be times when you have a fallout with your coworker because the two of you have different outlooks regarding a single project. Conflict may arise and anger can blind you from processing information logically. You may lose sight of the project’s ultimate goal and reject solutions or explanations that are beneficial for the project’s success.


2. Pride

Teamwork and collaboration require you to listen to others in addition to letting them express themselves freely. Pride can prevent you from paying attention to others as you’re likely to focus only on your thoughts, opinions and perspectives. There may be times when you shoot down other’s ideas even before listening to them. This emotional barrier is a cautionary tale for managers and team leaders.


3. Anxiety

One of the most common types of emotional barriers, anxiety crops up in multiple ways at work. Whether it’s first-day jitters or an important client meeting, it can negatively impact your confidence and creativity. You may create an echo chamber and repeat what others say because you’re too afraid to voice your opinions. At the extreme end of things, you may refuse to speak up at all.


While an emotional barrier can have multiple faces, it’s important to remember that emotional reactions can be either from the speaker or the listener. No matter who it comes from, the way you respond or react to it is what determines your communication powers. Sometimes, having a plan to manage emotions is a good way of navigating such conversations.


How To Overcome An Emotional Barrier In Communication


Daniel Goldman, the author of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ (1995), emphasized the importance of emotional intelligence in social, academic and professional aspects of life. If you want to improve your emotional intelligence and express yourself better in addition to being more aware of your feelings, you need to get in touch with your emotions first. Here’s how you can understand your emotions better:


  1. Analyzing your emotional intelligence through a self-assessment can help you establish a baseline against which you can measure improvement. The more self-knowledge you develop, the more you understand your deep-rooted feelings. This further provides perspective on regulating emotional barriers.
  2. There are some feelings that bring out our negative side. In other words, emotional triggers. For example, someone talking loudly in an office space can be annoying. It’s a good idea to make a note of these triggers. Attaching words to emotions and journaling them can help you get a clearer idea about what constitutes ‘pleasant’ or ‘unpleasant’ for you. This can be used for deeper introspection and self-reflection.
  3. In our emotional dealings, we are often focused on ourselves. Moving away from the self to others is a healthy approach to looking at things. It can be as simple as letting someone talk more while you listen more. The more you allow others to be a part of the conversation and pay attention to them, the easier it is to avoid miscommunication.
  4. In any type of communication, observation is essential. Paying attention to details helps you capture and engage with important information. Strong observation skills are instrumental in relationship-building as people love to be heard and feel valued. For example, when you have a follow-up question for a speaker, they feel respected and heard.
  5. Removing yourself from a situation can help you look at things from various angles. It may be difficult to assess a situation in an objective manner when you’re directly involved but it’s crucial that you try. By taking a step back, you can collect your thoughts, think clearly and rethink potentially hurtful comments, among other benefits.
  6. Emotional outbursts are often the product of deep-seated (unacknowledged) insecurities. It may be closely tied with the inability to accept mistakes, failures or imperfections. It’s essential to be able to forgive yourself and others. By learning to move on, you will not hold yourself and others to impossible standards and will be able to minimize tension and conflicts.
  7. The definition of emotional barrier is intricately tied to the emotional well-being of an individual. The presence of emotional barriers signifies some deep-rooted mental limitations that are preventing you from responding to situations in a mature and professional way. However, relaxation exercises such as mindful meditation and yoga can help you address some of the issues and overcome them in a positive manner.


Communicate With Impact


In addition to the aforementioned strategies to overcome emotional barriers in communication, you need to go above and beyond to create an impact in the workplace. Harappa’s Speaking Effectively course will help you build strong communication skills and achieve spectacular career success. Understand emotions better with Aristotle’s Appeals framework and deliver your ideas in a compelling way using the PAM (Purpose, Audience and Message) Framework. Leave a lasting impression on your coworkers and clients with Harappa today! 

Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as What Is Miscommunication, Workplace Communication, Visual Communication & Communicating Assertively to communicate with impact.

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