The purpose of this essay is to describe a situation from practice related to communication between nurse and patient. The Department of Health (2003) defines communication as ‘a process that involves a meaningful exchange between at least two people to convey facts, needs, opinions, thoughts, feelings and other information through both verbal and non-verbal means.’
Communication occurs when a person (the source) sends a message via a particular medium (the channel) so it is received by a recipient (the receiver) (Roper, Logan and Tierney, 2002).
Since communication is such an integral part of everyday life, it is hardly surprising that it is emphasized as a central component in the delivery of care (LeMay, 2004).
The healthcare professional is required to develop and maintain a high level of interpersonal communication in order to provide the best care possible to their patients (Silverman, Kurtz and Draper, 2005).
Communication skills have been traditionally classified into two main channels; verbal and non-verbal (Williams, 1997). These must not be considered to be of individual existence as LeMay (2004) states ‘they are complimentary to each other.’ However, Faulkner (2000) argues that should verbal and non-verbal messages conflict, those most likely to be believed will be the non-verbal ones, therefore the focus throughout this essay will be the non-verbal aspects of communication.
Non-verbal communication consists of paralanguage and kinetics. These affect how information is understood (Roper, Logan and Tierney, 2002). Paralanguage is concerned with how we use language rather than what we say. The paralinguistic features of communication are ‘the quality and tone of voice, volume, pitch, speed of speech and the use of filler words such as ‘mm-hmm’ and ‘I see’ (Williams, 1997). Kinetics is more commonly known as body language and is concerned with the messages conveyed in the movements of the body (Alexander, Fawcett and Runciman, 2002)...
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