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Describe the factors that influence communication

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Task 1: communication methods used in health, social care and early years settings and making communication a positive experience

Health and social care professionals need good communication skills to develop positive relationships and share information with people using services. They also need to be able to communicate well with people’s families and/or carers and their own colleagues and other professionals. It is important therefore, if you are considering a career in health and social care, to gain the knowledge, understanding and practical skills needed to develop effective interpersonal skills. There are several different forms of communication used in a health and social care environment. This unit looks at verbal and non-verbal communication methods. You will gain an understanding of the communication cycle, looking at how to make sure that communication is effective and messages understood at each stage. You will be given the opportunity to observe and discuss communication methods used by professionals – skills which you will practise and refine. You will then demonstrate your communication skills in both one-to-one and group situations.

Different types of communication
One-to-one communication

One-to-one means one person communicating with another person with no other people joining in. for example if you walk into a one-to-one job interview, the interviewer may say something like, ‘Good morning, my name is … Please taking a seat. Did you find us all right?’ This is to make you feel relaxed and less nervous so you feel more confident and do your best. If you walked in and they immediately said, ‘Sit down. Tell me why you want this job’, you would be sitting down and starting to answer questions instantly so would be very on edge. It is the same in any conversation; it is important to create the right feeling by being

Group communication

Group communication is harder because it only works properly if everyone is able to be involved. In most groups there are people who speak a lot and others who speak rarely, if at all, because they feel uncomfortable speaking in front of a group of people or they are just not interested. Groups work best if there is a team leader who encourages everyone to have a say in turn, rather than everyone trying to speak at once.

Formal and informal communication

Formal communication tends to start with a greeting such as ‘Good afternoon. How are you feeling today?’ It can be used to show respect for others. Formal conversation is often used when a professional person, such as a health or social care worker, speaks to someone using a service. It is clear, correct and avoids misunderstanding. Communication with a manager is usually formal. A manager is usually more distant from those they manage so that if they need to, for example, issue a formal warning to someone, it is less awkward for both parties than if they are friends. Informal communication (often used between people who know each other well, like friends and family) is more likely to start with ‘Hi, how are you?’ and allows for more variety according to the area someone lives in. For example, in some places it is common for people to call other people ‘Love’ even if they have only just met them. People usually communicate more informally with friends, including those they work closely with on a day-to-day basis.

Verbal communication

Verbal communication uses words to present ideas, thoughts and feelings. Good verbal communication is the ability to both explain and present your ideas clearly through the spoken word, and to listen carefully to other people. This will involve using a variety of approaches and styles appropriate to the audience you are addressing.

Non-verbal communication

This refers to the messages we send out to express ideas and opinions without talking. This might be through the use of body language, facial expressions, gestures, tone of voice, touch or contact, signs, symbols, pictures, objects and other visual aids. It is very important to be able to recognise what a person’s body language is saying, especially when as a health or social care worker you are dealing with someone who is in pain, worried or upset. You must also be able to understand the messages you send with your own body when working with other people.

Body language – The way we sit or stand, which is called posture, can send messages. Slouching on a chair can show a lack of interest in what is going on and folded arms can suggest that you are feeling negative or defensive about a person or situation. Even the way we move can give out messages, e.g. shaking your head while someone else is talking might indicate that you disagree with them or waving your arms around can indicate you are excited.

Facial expression – We can often tell what someone is feeling by their eyes. Our eyes become wider when we are excited or happy, attracted to, or interested in someone. A smile shows we are happy and a frown shows we are annoyed.

Touch or contact – Touching another person can send messages of care, affection, power or sexual interest. It is important to think about the setting you are in and what you are trying to convey before touching a person in a health and social care environment. An arm around a child who is upset about something in hospital or a nursery can go a long way to making them feel better but a teenager might feel intimidated by such contact from an older person.

Signs, symbols and pictures – There are certain common signs or gestures that most people automatically recognise. For example, a wave of the hand can mean hello or goodbye and a thumbs up can mean that all is well. Pictures of all forms and objects also communicate messages; an X-ray and a model of a knee joint can more easily communicate to someone needing a knee replacement exactly what is involved.

Written communication

This is central to the work of any person providing a service in a health and social care environment when keeping records and in writing reports. Different types of communication need different styles of writing but all require literacy skills. A more formal style of writing is needed when recording information about a patient. It would be unacceptable to use text message abbreviations at the scenting.

Technological aids

Technology is moving so quickly now that we have many electronic aids to help us communicate. For example, mobile phones can be used to make calls but we can also use them to send text messages and emails; and we have computers on which we can record, store and communicate information very quickly and efficiently over long distances. Some aids can turn small movements into written word and then into speech, such as the voice box most famously used by the scientist, Professor Stephen Hawking.

Positive influence communication

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