This assignment will describe the different types of interpersonal interaction and communication in care settings. It will also explain some of the factors that can restrict or encourage communication. Included will be explanations of which verbal and non-verbal communication affect the communication cycle.
Interpersonal interaction is how information is communicated between people. In a care setting there are many ways this can be done. Undoubtabley the main method of communication used is that of the spoken language, which is based on words, that are pronounced by one person and heard by another.
Language is a type of interpersonal communication that is not simply based on sounds that are heard. It can be written or signed. For example if there is a deaf person in a care setting others may use hand gestures and signing systems, such as British Sign Language, or write notes to get a point across. Artwork such as paintings, sculptures, pictures help to make known messages and emotions to people. Some psychiatric institutions use images drawn by clients to gain insight to their feelings.
Written communication is used throughout care settings in the form of books, E-mail, fax, notices, text messages and so on. These written statements need not be visual as Braille has been developed for people who may not be able to use visual systems such as people who are blind. Braille uses the sense of touch through raised marks to interpret messages.
Television and Radio are household visual and sound systems to communicate information. They come under recorded information as a type of interpersonal communication that enable the re-experience of messages from the past. Other examples are CDs, videos, tapes etc.
Without necessarily meaning to, everyone communicates complex ideas and emotions through their body language. Meaning others can experience different messages from the same stance. This includes a person’s facial expressions, muscle tone and body posture which show how they feel. Body language is the main type of communication in mime, drama and dance. It is also extremely important in care settings. This is because it allows people to convey how they feel who may not be able to or find it hard to communicate their feelings otherwise.
Music is an effective and powerful form of communication for expressing emotion and mood. Often music can effect a person’s state of mind. I.e. if someone is listening to sad music it may cause him or her to feel sad also.
There are many different factors present in care settings that can have positive and negative effects on communication creating a problem or making it easier to get a point across. There are three main barriers that can prevent communication, these are:
ã If a person cannot receive a message i.e. they can’t see or hear it. This could be due to disabilities or the environment. Visual or hearing disabilities create a barrier to receiving any message conveyed through signs, symbols, pictures, sound, music etc. for example if a nurse is attempting to speak to a client who is deaf. Environmental problems could be noise, lighting or speaking from too far away or the people around. These problems could cause distraction or a person may not want to disclose certain information due to lack of privacy.
ã If a person cannot make valid sense of a message i.e. differences in concepts. This could be due to the use of different languages or physical/intellectual disabilities. Differences in languages, terms and slang can prevent someone from receiving a message. For example if a social worker and ward from two different regions of the same country are having a conversation they may not recognise some of the words the other said. Disabilities, which cause difficulties with language, learning or memory, form a barrier to certain types of communication. A person may not know the meaning of some words, images or sounds that are heard or seen.
ã If a person misunderstands the message i.e. people interpret messages in different ways. This could be due to cultural influences, stereotyping, social status, pressures and varied personalities. People who have unlike cultural backgrounds have varied viewpoints and perceptions. In enclosed groups they may have typical expressions and mannerisms only understood by people in the group. For example if a family have a shared private joke, others outside the family may take it the wrong way or just not understand it at all. An individual’s own problems and pressures may simply withdraw them from wanting to know, learn or understand about others. This often occurs to social workers that are so wrapped up in their own problems they are not interested in anyone else’s difficulties.
Physical, emotional and social factors affect how well individuals communicate with each other. They can enhance or inhibit it depending on the type of communication. Physical factors that have positive effects on communication in care settings could be the environment i.e. a good quality nursing home, workers with good standards of personal hygiene and grooming, privacy and appropriate distances when communicating. For example a nurse sitting too close to a patient may invade the patient’s personal space and cause them to feel uncomfortable. If workers are not clean and hygienic it will deter others from wanting to be near them.
Emotional factors such as stress, negative attitudes, inappropriate advice and blocking inhibit effective communication. For instance if a teacher is stressed they may convey a negative attitude towards the pupils therefore blocking their views and not allowing them to get their point across. On the other hand if the teacher had a relaxed, warm manner and gave off an air of sincerity it would encourage successful communication.
Social factors in care settings such as appropriate language and sharing interests encourage others to want to make contact. For example a doctor being attentive to their patients. Stereotyping, labeling, exclusion and ignorance are other social factors that tend to inhibit correspondence. For example if an individual felt ignored or left out by a group the person would not feel inclined to speak to the people in the group.
Individuals can have certain personality traits that encourage or discourage communication. The positive factors could be assertiveness, respecting silence and using the preferred form of interaction for people who find certain forms difficult. Negative traits people may have which can discourage communication are lack of awareness, inappropriate language, aggression and parroting. This is because if people are unaware of the difficulties and needs of others it is impossible for them to minimize barriers. Also if someone were being aggressive you would not want to communicate with him or her.
The communication cycle is the process people become involved in when expressing thoughts and interpreting the thoughts of others. It involves the following six steps:
1) Expressing our thoughts
2) Watching the other person’s non-verbal response and body language
3) Interpreting the other person’s body language and trying to work out what they are thinking
4) Listening to their response to what we have said
5) Trying to make sense of the response
6) Expressing new ideas to try and clarify our ideas
Verbal and non-verbal communications have different affects on the cycle. For example the first step relevant to verbal communication would be speaking, music or any language based on sounds which are heard. Whereas in non-verbal communication it could be sign language, signs, symbols, gestures, writing etc. After someone has expresses something either verbally or non-verbally the next step would be to watch the other person’s body language to see their response. By analysing the facial expressions, body posture and muscle tone it is possible to try and work out what the other person is thinking. This means that they are expressing their feelings in a non-verbal manner. These physical movements and gestures can be easily misinterpreted, as non-verbal communication is a language that varies with history and culture. Following the statement you will have to watch or listen to the verbal or non-verbal response of the recipient and try to make sense of it. This is easier if it is a verbal response unless there are barriers involved such as different languages. The final part of the cycle is to express new ideas and make them clear to the other person.
In conclusion to this assignment I have discovered a range of different types of interpersonal interaction used in the care setting by different people due to their circumstances. As a result of this vast range people can interpret things in different ways. It is important that staff in care settings are aware of this and aim to communicate with clients in the form they understand. There are a number of different factors that can create barriers to effective communication. It is the responsibility of care workers to evaluate any possible barriers and attempt to overcome them.
Walsh, M/ Stretch, B et al. (2003) BTEC National Care, Oxford: Heinemann
Hartley, P (1999) Interpersonal Communication second edition, London: Routledge
Burton, G (1979) Interpersonal Relations A Guide for Nurses, London, Tavistock Publications Ltd.