- Attitude of sender or receiver - How the sender feels about the subject matter, the receiver, or even about himself or herself affects the accuracy of the message. If the sender has an "It can't be done" attitude or "know-it-all" approach, the message may have been sent just to go through the motions of communicating. Closed-minded attitudes cut off feedback and negatively influence the final result.
- Emotional climate - Speaking in anger will distort the sending and receiving of a message.
- Hidden agendas or preoccupations with other issues can foster negative feelings.
- Body language may add strong signs of indifference, unimportance, or inattention to the message.
- Semantics - Words mean different things to different people. When people attach different meanings to the same words, the message can become jumbled and misunderstood. Words with specialized meaning for certain occupations, professional, or social groups interfere with effective communication with people outside those groups.
- Interruptions - anything that comes between the sender and the receiver of a message. Even if the interruption does not keep the message from getting through entirely, it can certainly distort the message. After an interruption, acknowledge the interruption and repeat what was last said, getting confirmation from the other party that he or she has the same understanding.
- "Hot buttons" - to control hot buttons, we must identify what triggers us, understand our responses, and develop behaviors that allow us to listen more carefully and objectively. If you cannot eliminate hot buttons, the best alternative might be to develop acceptable responses.
Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP