Personal Characteristics

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Communication Modes

  1. Verbal – speaking words

  1. Nonverbal – body language, gestures, facial expressions and touch

  1. Written communication

Parts of the Communication Model

Sender – person who begins the process of creating a message or material to be communicated

Message – material to be communicated

Receiver – person for whom the message is intended; interprets the meaning of the message

Feedback – the receiver’s way of insuring that the message that is understood is the same as the message that was sent; takes place after the receiver has interpreted the message

Communication Model





Factors that Influence Communication

1. The message must be clear and concise. It must be in terms that the sender and the receiver can understand.

2. Delivery of the message must be concise, using good grammar and correct pronunciation. A moderate tone and pitch with good inflections avoiding a monotone. Speed of delivery is also important.

3. Written communications should contain good grammar and punctuation, correct spelling, and be as concise as possible.

4. Receiver must be able to hear or receive the message.

a. Very weak patients or those under the influence of heavy medications may not hear the message or interpret and understand the message.

b. Patients with hearing or visual impairments and those with limited English speaking skills may not receive messages.

  1. Clarifying and changing the form of a message can allow the receiver to respond.

5. The receiver must be able to understand the message. Using unfamiliar terminology as well as attitudes and prejudices of the receiver and sender can interfere with understanding.

6. Confidence in the receiver is very important.

7. Interruptions or distractions can interfere with communication. Loud noises, poor lightening, and uncomfortable room temperature can interrupt communication.

Good Listening Skills

  1. Give full attention to the person who is speaking.

  1. Eliminate distractions.

  1. Make direct eye contact.

  1. Indicate your interest. Lean into the speaker. Use phrases such as, “Uh-huh,” “I understand,” and “I see.”

  1. Do not interrupt. Wait your turn.

  1. Listen to feelings and gestures as well as words.

  1. Try to get the general idea of what someone is saying.

  1. Do not shift attention from the other person to yourself.

  1. Do not decide too early that the subject matter is too hard, too easy, or too upsetting.

  1. Ask questions for clarification.

  1. Avoid making judgments.

  1. Do not spend too much time thinking about what you are going to say.

  1. Repeat the idea back to the speaker.

  1. Summarize; recap the highlights.

Barriers to Communication
Communication barrier is defined as anything that gets in the way of clear communication.
Three Common Causes:
1. Physical disabilities

2. Psychological attitudes and prejudice

3. Cultural diversity
Physical Disabilities may include:

  • Deafness or hearing loss

  • Blindness or impaired vision

  • Aphasia or speech disabilities

To improve communication with the hearing impaired:

  • Use body language such as gestures and signs.

  • Speak clearly in short sentences.

  • Face the individual to facilitate lip reading.

  • Write messages if necessary.

  • Make sure hearing aids are working properly.

To improve communication with the visually impaired:

  • Use a soft tone of voice.

  • Describe events that are occurring.

  • Announce your presence when entering a room.

  • Explain sounds or noises.

  • Use touch when appropriate.

What about someone with aphasia or speech impairments?

  • They have difficulty remembering the correct words, may not be able to pronounce certain words, and may have slurred speech.

  • The health care worker must be patient

  • Allow them to try and speak

  • Encourage them to take their time

  • Repeat message to assure accuracy

  • Encourage them to use gestures or point to objects

  • Provide pen and paper if they can write

  • Use pictures with key messages to communicate

Psychological Barriers
Caused by:

1. Prejudice

2. Attitudes

3. Personality

Stereotypes such as “dumb blonde” or “fat slob” cause us to make snap judgments about others that affect the communication process.

What other stereotypes

can affect communications?
Health care workers must learn to put prejudice aside and show respect for all individuals. Is that possible?
Do ALL patients have the right to quality health care?

Health care workers should:

Allow patients to express their fears or anger

Encourage them to talk about their feelings

Avoid arguing

Remain calm

Talk in a non-threatening tone of voice

Provide quality care

Cultural Barriers

Deal with values, beliefs, attitudes and customs.

  • Each cultural group has beliefs and practices regarding health and illness

  • Some cultures believe the body needs balance – if the body is cold, they eat hot foods.

  • Some cultures believe illness is due to demons and evil spirits

  • Some cultures believe health is a reward from God, and illness is punishment from God

Cultural beliefs must be respected.
Patients may practice their cultural remedies in addition to modern healthcare techniques.
Cultural diversity may interfere with communication in other ways:

Language differences – people who don’t speak English may have a difficult time communicating. You should:

  • Speak slowly

  • Use nonverbal communication (smile)

  • Avoid tendency to speak louder

  • Find an interpreter

  • Eye contact – in some cultures, it’s not acceptable, and looking down is a sign of respect

  • Terminal illness – in some cultures, the patient is NOT told his/her prognosis, and family members are responsible for making care decisions

  • Touch – in some cultures, it is wrong to touch someone on the head

  • Personal care – in some cultures, only family members provide personal care

Respect and acceptance of cultural diversity is essential for any health care worker.


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