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How important are communication skills?

Be a great communicator even if you aren't a great dancer!

As a Care Skills Trainer people ask me a lot what communication skills are and why they are important in delivering great person-centred care?

When delivering person-centred care you will need to ensure your residents or clients are safe, clean and fed so communicating with care, empathy but also with some assertiveness can be a challenge. How can you ensure your communication skills are effective and you are delivering the right message?

There are 3 main ways of communicating, which do you think makes the biggest impact?

What you say – the words

How you say it – the music

Your body language – the dance

The dance – it’s all about the dance!

Quiz - What are these three poses saying? (Answers at the end)

Let’s have a look at all these 3 areas.

YOUR WORDS or what you say is a very small part of the communication, things to remember here are:

  • If it is a difficult conversation, note down some bullet points to help you make sure you get everything covered, it is ok to refer to your notes

  • Ask yourself if you using any jargon or professional terms that your resident or client will not know or understand and if you are try saying things in easy and simple language so that they will.

YOUR VOICE or the way you say things involves so many elements and this makes up for about a third of the communication the other person will pick up on.

  • Your tone – you may be giving instructions but focus on being calm and reassuring and avoid sounding condescending. Everything can be said in a friendly and encouraging way with compassion and empathy even if it has to be repeated.

  • Your volume – speaking really loudly can put people off whilst speaking too quietly can mean they can’t hear you. Speak close to their ear if they are hard of hearing. Think about background noise as you haven’t got a hope if the television or radio is on loud!

  • Your pitch – is it too high or too low – it needs to be right in the middle as this helps your resident or client hear what you say.

YOUR BODY LANGUAGE, lastly, but most importantly. This makes up over half of the communication the person will see – isn’t that amazing! THE DANCE!

  • Eye contact – too much and it becomes overbearing, too little and it says I don’t care. It’s particularly important if your resident or client can’t hear very well as holding eye contact means you have their attention.

  • Your body posture - most importantly you must be at the same height as the person you are talking to. Sit or bend down to your residents or clients level or below is key for great communication along with good eye contact and being next to their ear if they can’t hear as well.

  • Your gestures and in particular the movement of your arms is important. Throwing your arms around in big and quick movements may cause stress so use small and calm gestures to help with any communication.

I know it’s a lot to think about but the ability for you to communicate well and appropriately depending on the situation really makes the difference in engaging and offering that person-centred care.

By focusing on ALL aspects of communication good person-centred care becomes GREAT person-centred care!

For further reading on communication skills, I recommend Jim Rohn’s article

Quiz answers – 1. I’m not happy, I’m not friendly, I’m fed up. 2. I can help you, I want to help you, I am your friend. 3. Stop doing that, I’m telling you, you will do it!

#communicationskills #bodylanguage #care

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