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Factors That Can Inhibit Effective Communication

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Effective communication involves both the body and the mind. Misinterpreted signals are often the source of difficulties in communication between people. Remember that each person has a set of values and approaches that substantially affect how they interact with others. Effective communication involves an openness in both verbal and nonverbal expression.

Body Language

A person's body language plays a big role in effective communication. Body language sends an unconscious message about a person's openness to communication. Examples of closed body language are arms crossed at the chest or a person hunched over in their seat with crossed legs. Turning away from the person instead of facing them directly also indicates an unwillingness to talk. A person with more open body language, such as arms resting comfortably at his or her sides, shows that the person wants to effectively communicate. There's a direct link between how people choose to hold themselves physically and the effectiveness of the discussion.

Cultural Differences

Cultural differences can inhibit effective communication. For example, many Mexicans have a smaller personal space than people of Caucasian descent. A Mexican may move in more closely to talk or even touch a person's shoulder or forearm to make a point. This could be interpreted as inappropriate by someone not of Latino descent or not familiar with Latino communication styles.

Conflict Management Skills

A person who is afraid of conflict may do everything in his or her power to avoid any difficulties, even if their point is valid. This could be perceived as a block or defense mechanism. Another type of person may find conflict to be a routine element of effective communication. This person could be seen as always looking for a fight.


Born in New York City, Elizabeth Carrillo has worked as a bilingual freelance writer and translator since 2009. She contributes to various websites with articles on soccer and Mexico. Carrillo holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University.

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