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How Filters Impact our Communication

It is important for a person to identify the “filters” he or she uses to interpret the world in order to become a more effective communicator. “We all come to relationships with filters in our minds,” said Martha Keys Barker. “We tend to magnify the things that are negative and minimize the things that are positive.”

Those filters often are rooted in family dynamics. For example, adults who were exposed to regular conflict as children often feel responsible for fixing other people’s problems. Some people may fear honest communication because they never saw it modeled as children, Emily Cash said.

“It’s rooted in unhealthy family dynamics, trauma and not having good models,” she said.

Filters can be obstacles to healthy communication because they skew how people interpret a situation – on both sides. “In order to communicate effectively with another person, I need to understand my own filters,” Barker said. Common filters among priests and religious include the beliefs that they should be able to fix all problems, they should never say “no” to a request, and they should never feel negative about a situation, Barker said.

It is important also to attempt to recognize another person’s filter when communicating. “Doing so will inform our expectation of what they’re able to give and what they’re able to hear,” Cash said.