Communication Styles

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Communication is an integral part in health care settings and is the basis of all interactions. Different communication styles can be used depending on the situation to facilitate interactions and create effective environments in health care. Communication itself is any behaviour that is perceived by another whether through knowledge, feelings or thoughts (Dwyer, 2005). Forms which are used can be placed under verbal and non-verbal styles, each with their own advantages and disadvantages on the client and the health care worker when displayed. Different styles and types of these are used depending on who the health care worker is in contact with as all clients enclose diverse requirements and issues.

Verbal communication can be in the form of spoken words between two or more people or written in written communication (Dwyer, 2005). It is therefore a constant tool used in most interactions especially in the health field where most workers are regularly in contact with clients. These health care workers must vary their style with the changing needs of those whom they seek to help (Collins, 1983). For example people in different cultures. Within each, individuals are connected to one another through a common system of encoding and decoding messages (Kelsy & Amason, 2001). Each culture does this through its own verbal and nonverbal behaviors and has its own way of expressing and interpreting messages (Kelsy & Amason, 2001). Problems can therefore result when people of different cultures come into contact with each other. The most common and urgent needs of clients seem to be increasingly emotional in nature, although many of the specialized relationships directly result from illness (Collins, 1983). Research has shown that problems health care workers experience with clients seem to relate not so much to giving prescribed physical care as to communication, or a lack of understanding that clients have problems in other areas that are as essential to recovery as are the more customary medical issues (Collins, 1983). Interviewing techniques may aid in discovering the client’s needs where the health care worker can use their presence with the understanding that if they want to help it can be as simple as communicating interest and compassion, or rather to just stand by and listen (Collins, 1983). Varied communication techniques are required to initiate a helping relationship, and continued skills in communication would be helpful if the relationship is to be successfully ongoing as clients’ behaviours change as their needs change (Collins, 1983). To assert is to declare or state your opinions clearly, and to stand up for your rights while also taking into account others. Assertiveness encompasses respect for others and yourself, self-awareness and effective, clear and consistent communication (Darley, 2002). In health care settings, an assertive communication style is a key element in guaranteeing clients’ needs are delivered appropriately. This technique is a positive response to stress and can avoid some of the physiological consequences created by negative responses to stress (Darley, 2002). Active listening is a component of assertive communication, where the individual listens attentively and responds relevantly which in turn, creates a situation of potentially maximal involvement permitting clients to experience and share themselves more fully and freely (Collins, 1983). Providing the client undivided attention, the health care worker demonstrates through communication that the client is not alone but with someone who will be thinking along with the client to understand and help. This enhances self-esteem for both individuals and encourages the client to direct their thoughts toward reaching an objective (Collins, 1983). It may be useful to evaluate the workers ability to help the client cope with the guilt and shame that are often the consequence of intense sharing (Collins, 1983). An assertive communication style does...
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