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Blockers & Facilitators in Communication

Understanding the roles of blockers and facilitators in communication can help you understand and guide the exchange of information in a conversation. Blockers inhibit the exchange of information and facilitators encourage the flow of information. One context in which these concepts are employed is in the therapeutic model, for instance, between a health care practitioner and a patient. The basic concepts, however, can be used in many different situations.


Silence encourages communication from the other person, as she will feel compelled to fill the gap with conversation. It also gives the participants in a conversation the opportunity to organize thoughts. Another facilitator is called accepting, which means allowing a train of thought to be followed. It does not always, however, mean agreement with the thoughts, rather just their acceptance. An example is the phrase, "I see." Recognition is to acknowledge a person as a human by greeting them. An example is the phrase, "good morning". Offering, another facilitator, means making yourself available to the person, for instance, sitting with them. This generally encourages a person to continue along a train of thought. An example is the phrase, "go on."

Clarifying Facilitators

Another way to aid communication is through clarifying facilitators. By placing events in a sequence, you can help clarify a chain of events. Phrases like "what led to..." and "when did this happen?" help clarify the proper sequence of events. Making observations is another way to facilitate communication. You can make observations, calling certain things to the attention of the other person. Noticing new clothing or a haircut are good observation statements. "Tell me" statements are also facilitators of good communication because they encourage a description of perceptions by the other person.

Blocking Communications

Reassuring someone can seem like a devaluation of his feelings. Applying value statements, as well as giving approval, limits freedom of thought because it's easy for praise, rather than progress, to become the new communication goal. Rejecting topics or feelings inhibits further exploration and a person may feel rejected. The interaction will no longer be therapeutic at this point and the person may want to stop talking. Disapproving denounces behavior or ideas and implies one person sitting in judgment of the other.


Leslie Jones McCloud is a professional writer who has worked as a reporter for City News Bureau of Chicago, Chicago Defender Newspaper, Alliance News, Post Tribune, Boca Raton News and Crusader Newspaper during her eight year career. She has also worked at WJOB in Northwest Indiana and WTLC in Indianapolis. Ms. McCloud holds a B.S. degree in Journalism from Indiana State University.