Barriers and Gateways to Communication

I should like to propose, as a hypothesis for consideration, that the major barrier to mutual interpersonal communication is our very natural tendency to judge, to evaluate, to approve (or disapprove) the statement of the other person or group. Let me illustrate my meaning with some very simple examples. Suppose someone, commenting on this discussion makes the statement ‘I didn’t like what that man said’. What will you respond? Almost invariably your reply will be either approval or disapproval of the attitude expressed. Either you respond, I didn’t either; I thought it was terrible,’ or else you tend to reply, ‘oh, I thought it was really good’. In other words, your primary reaction is to evaluate it from your point of view, your own frame of reference.

Although the tendency to make evaluations is common in almost all interchange of language, it is very much heightened in those situations where feelings and emotions are deeply involved. So the stronger our feelings, the more likely it is that there will be no mutual element in the communication. There will be just two ideas, two feelings, two judgments, missing each other in psychological space.

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