What is communication? Essay
Communication is a process that people to exchange thoughts by several methods. There are lots of different types of communications as people may have a foreign language, or disability: clients may be deaf or blind and young people not understanding at nursery. However these could also be barriers to communication, which I will explain later.
Why are communication skills important?
Communication skills are important in order to get you message across to others clearly. It is better to receive the correct communication instead of a misunderstood message. It is a way to learn, express ideas, feelings and opinions.
The communication cycle
The communication cycle is about the process of sending and receiving messages. Below is a diagram which shows this process. (1)
For this assignment I needed to attend a care setting where I observed the communications between myself and the children. I also carried out a one to one interaction and a group interaction. The group interaction involved a group children and myself which meant that the communications varied between this. However the one to one interaction just involved an individual which meant it differed from the group interaction.
The setting which I attended was an early year setting, a reception, where children aged 4-5 attended. There were about 5 members of staff at the reception department.
There were many different types of communications that I used during my interactions. The main skills I used were verbal and non-verbal communication skills. (Approximately 93% of the population all over the world use non-verbal communication whereas only 7% of the population use verbal communication). Verbal communication involves both speaking and listening whereas non-verbal communication involves our body language. Examples of non-verbal communication would be gesture, posture, eye contact, facial expressions, proximity, touch, conduct, dress and personal grooming. Communication also involves paralanguage, which means the use of language. This may include your tone of voice, pitch, volume, pause, tempo and speed.
In both my interactions I used most of the above skills which made it easier for me to communicate with the children as well as the staff at the school.
Another skill I used was SOLER. This means: Sitting squarely (facing person)
Lean towards person (slightly)
This skill also helped me with my interactions as I felt more confident with the children and staff as they did with me.
Care practitioners need to develop good communication, an important part of this is “active listening”. There are many purposes of active listening. Some of these are to activate service users, to enable users to speak freely, to help the service user to develop skills, to gain insight into the issues which are being stated. Other purposes for active listening could be to help the service user solve problems, to help the service user reach satisfactory outcomes, to consider the options available to the same user, or to clarify what is being said.
Active listening does not just consist of listening to words, but is watching the body language as well. It involves paying attention not just to what is being said but how it is being said. In addition you have to be able to show that you are paying attention and that you have understood what they are telling you. This can be through responding, nodding asking (open/closed) questions, or maybe even eye contact.
The care value base
The care value base is a range of standards for health and social care. It is designed to guide the practice of professionals working in this area. The aim of the standards is to improve clients’ quality of life, by ensuring that each person gets the care that is most appropriate for them as an individual. It provides professionals and carers with a common set of principles to guide them within their work. (Ref. Collins textbook)
My first interaction ~ one-to-one interaction
My first interaction at my chosen placement was my one-to-one interaction with a young girl aged 4. The activity was based on the world book week. There were a range of books lying on the desk were children came and chose a book, then they had to make a collage related to the theme of the book which for this little girl was an elephant as the name of her book was “Elle the elephant.
I started the session be saying good-morning and introducing myself to the class. I then sat on a chair making sure I was at the same level as her so that she didn’t feel as though I was leaning over her. I asked her what her name was and started a little conversation. During this time I smiled to her, this transmitted the value so that she knew I cared. I then read the book to her and as I read I asked her closed questions linked to the book, this was in order to see whether he was focussed or not. I made sure that there was good eye contact; this was a good indicator as it showed she was concentrating as well as her feelings and emotions, this was through her facial expressions, for example when there was an adventurous scene she looked excited, whereas if there was an unexpected scene she seemed surprised. Other examples of feeling that can be expressed are anger, concentration, contempt, desire, disgust, excitement, fear, happiness, confusion, sadness, and surprise.
I also used gestures were I thought they were appropriate and I had an open posture throughout the whole activity as this made the girl seem more comfortable. At first the girl had a closed posture as her arms and legs seemed to be crossed but gradually throughout the activity I think she felt more confident. During the activity she had an open posture, this was shown as her arms were loose and she seemed relaxed and comfortable. I made sure I gave the girl personal space which is also known as proximity, this was so that she didn’t feel anxious.
My second interaction ~ group interaction
My second interaction was a group interaction, which involved me doing an activity with a group of children. In groups of three’s or four’s the children had to perform a bit of drama, which again was linked to the world book day’ however this time the theme was Halloween. As a group we decided to act on a book called “Room on the Broom”, the reason why we did this as a group was in order to show that there opinions are respected. In this interaction I made sure there was a good communication skill as it made the interaction more successful. Along with the children I sat on the floor while deciding what story to act upon, this was so that I was at the same level as them and wasn’t making them feel uncomfortable. I also made sure there was proximity between myself and the children, in order to make sure they weren’t nervous or scared.
I made sure there was good eye contact as again this showed the children were focussed. As a group we decided who was going to play what character. During this period we used facial expressions and body language, and as we were playing some drama this was quite important. This was a good way to convey emotions, develop the story and communicate the feelings and thoughts of the characters to the rest of the class.
I used gestures were they seemed appropriate as this was a group interaction. Gestures are just simple forms of sign language they are used to give information in shorthand way, to emphasise meaning and to express emotion. Also as we were doing a drama activity it was an easy way to send ‘messages’.
Comparisons between the interactions
When comparing the two different interactions, I can see that my verbal skills were the very much the same. I used paralanguage and listened to the children equally as they spoke. One of the main skills in an interaction should be speaking and listening to the person opposite, which I think I did very well. In both interactions I made sure I focussed on each child and their individual needs, this was slightly easier with the one-to-one interaction then the group interaction.
In the group interaction I explained what to do, so that they understood. I repeated myself to make sure of this. Whereas in the one-to-one interaction I didn’t need to as much because it was just a simple reading task with an activity to it, however I helped the child if she needed the help.
As for the nonverbal communication skills during the interactions, these were also very similar as I used the SOLAR skill. I sat facing the children at the same level as them. I had an open posture so they knew I was listening and used I gestures were appropriate.
I used eye contact in both the interactions so the children knew that I was paying attention, as well as for me to know that they were concentrating. I made sure I used proximity and gave the children personal space so that they didn’t feel uncomfortable around me.
The aspects of the care value base that were maintained in both my interactions were that I kept the children’s names confidential; I treated every one with respect. This included their personal beliefs as well as their individual needs.
Transcript of the group interaction
In my interactions I am going to change the names of the children. This will protect their real identity, as they may not want their names to be used in their assignment and for their identities to be given away; this also demonstrates confidentiality within the care value base.
Below is a transcript of one of the interactions I carried out at Barry Primary School, the group interaction. The activity involved drama with a group of three children and myself:
Me – hello children
Tanya – hello miss
Hassan – hello
Me – so what are we doing here?
Bobby – we have to read this book and then we have to do some drama
Tanya – yea and I am going to be the witch on the broom stick
Bobby – And I want to be the flying cat
Me – and what about you Hassan, what are you going to be?
Hassan – can I be the helpful dog?
Me – yes of course you can!
Tanya – miss?
Me – yes?
Tanya – can you read the book for us, and then we can try to act (I then read the book aloud h while the children performed to it)
Me – well done children, that was great
Evaluation of the whole experience
When I first went to the school I found it very easy to communicate with the staff. I also got on well with the children as I had worked with kids at another school before. Therefore communicating with the children was very easy because there were no problems while explaining to them what to do, I felt that I communicated well with the children throughout the activity, giving them instructions of what to do and if they wanted something or spoke to me about something. I did not hesitate to reply back as I felt comfortable with them. But I think that I could have used body language and a bit more eye contact in order to interact with them with much more confidence. I realise that interacting with children that you don’t know is much harder than if you do know them because they get to know you, however good communications come with experience and next time I feel I will be much better at it.
I didn’t really have any problems communicating with children in the reception as I had already worked with children before around the same age group. However in order to communicate well I used facial expressions, gestures and other body language. I was always facing the students, especially ones with hearing impairments as it made it much easier to communicate with them as they could see my face. However I could have interacted more with them and in order to improve my communication skills I could have come a little more down to their level when taking to them and carrying out the activity.