There are many different factors that can influence communication. I will be looking at how five of those factors can influence people communication, because if people don't understand each other then they can't communicate effectively. These factors that I will be looking out will show how and why they might not be able to communicate. The five factors that I will be looking at are: 1. Values and belief system 2. Attitudes 3. Cultural differences 4. Environment 5. Disability
The values and belief system are important because if a person feel's their values or beliefs are not taken into consideration during an interaction, then this will cause a barrier which will make communication difficult. An example of this would be an elderly man who thinks that nursing is a woman's job, and would find it difficult to talk to a male nurse or let the nurse touch him. In such a situation it might not be evident what the problem was, if the elderly man did not say anything.
He might just say that he wanted someone else to treat him. It would be tempting to ignore his concerns, and say that he had to be treated by a male nurse or not be treated, but this could mean that the man went away and was not treated. It is difficult to balance clients' needs and equal opportunities. At times adjustments need to be made. It might be possible to explain to him that the male nurse was competent and able to treat him and talk through the issues, but then if he found it unacceptable find another nurse to treat him.
When you are trying to communicate with someone you have to respect them and their views, even if you might feel that they are wrong, to show that you are interested in communicating with them. When you are communicating with a person you don't know, you have to be careful not to make the person feel uncomfortable, because then the person may feel intimidated and will then not be very open about what the problems are. This will then cause the person to try and avoid communicating, because they feel embarrassed which creates a barrier.
Belief systems and values are not something that are evident when you first talk to someone, and can be difficult to find out. In the example of the old man, he might be aware that it is not acceptable to appear sexist, and so he might not say anything, but will be nervous and ill at ease. So in this case you need to be aware of the non verbal communication that is going on at the same time and not rely wholly on the verbal communication.
When you know someone you have a better idea of their values and beliefs, so it is less of a problem because you know the person and how they are likely to react to certain things. (B. Stretch, M. Whitehouse, 2007) The attitude of people is another factor that can influence communication. People with a bad or somewhat aggressive attitude, such as refusing to do a task because it doesn't suit their needs or swearing at people for no reason can affect the atmosphere and make it difficult to communicate.
People are reluctant to approach such people in case they get sworn at, or feel there is no point as the person always says no, or argues. People are then likely to try and avoid upsetting such people, but feel resentful or intimidated by them. Communication breaks down and information that could be vital is not passed on. However if someone has a good positive attitude and is willing to do any doable task then this can improve communication, but care needs to be taken that they don't end up with doing more than their fair share of tasks.
A positive attitude encourages openness and there is a feeling of acceptance which makes it easier to communicate. When communicating with someone, it is important to respond and speak in an appropriate, kind manner, because if you don't it can lead to disagreements which could then lead to communication barriers. It is also important to show that through your attitude that you value what people are telling you and that you are listening to them and not distracted by some other task.
While I was at my work placement, I was careful to talk to the children in an appropriate manner by being polite and listening to what they were saying. Even if I was busy with another task, I would put that task on hold while they were speaking. I would make a comment on what they had just said to show that I had been listening, and let them finish saying what they wanted to say rather than jumping in and finishing the sentence for them, so that they knew I was interested in what they were saying and was not rushing to get on with another task.
When you are trying to communicate with people who are from a different culture you have to think about the way you speak to them and that they may have different belief systems and values. When you are speaking to people who can't speak English (as they could be from another country where it is traditional to speak only one language) very well then you should think about how you say things, for example slang wouldn't be advisable to use, because they would not understand it.
Also need to use simple clear language rather then complicated or technical words, or words that can have several meanings because they probably only learn the precise meaning for the word. In some cultures doctors are highly respected, and it would be seen as rude to question the doctor about something or ask for clarification, which could mean that a doctor is not fully able to address a patient's concerns and might not be aware that the patient had any concerns.
Strict Muslim women would be uncomfortable with a male doctor because of cultural and religious beliefs and might also wish for either their husband or another woman to be present with them. The presence of another person might also mean that the patient was not comfortable at talking freely about their concerns. In such situation it would also be easy to also to react on the basis of stereotypes and make various assumptions which would again make communication difficult.
In such a situation you need to be aware of your assumptions and try and overcome them, as well as maybe working harder to pick up the non verbal clues, such as facial expressions, tone of voice, gestures, and body language. At the nursery there was a Vietnamese girl who had a very limited English vocabulary and could only understand a few words. We had to use basic sign language, like imitating drinking when we wanted to ask her if she wanted a drink, and pointing to the different drink bottles so that she could choose the one that she wanted.
When you are communicating with someone the environment plays a role in the ways you communicate and the way that the communication is understood or accepted. If you are communicating with someone in a noisy place you might not be able to do the communication cycle very well because you can concentrate properly, hear what they are saying clearly and you will be aware of other things going on around you. Usually you can only deal with so many things at once, which will then create a barrier to good communication.
A good environment should have good lighting, for those who use lip-reading but also so you can pick up non verbal communication in facial expression, fairly quiet, for those who are hearing impaired as a noisy background would amplify the hearing aid, but also to allow uninterrupted conversation and aid concentration and it should be quite spaced out with proper seating arrangements to allow some privacy in when communicating and comfort so that you can relax and make communication easier and more effective It is also important that the room is not hot or stuffy as this can cause people to start feeling ill.
When I was trying to communicate with my supervisor (at my work placement) we had to do this in the same room as the children because we were supervising them. I needed to ask my supervisor about how to do things, or about questions that the children had asked me. The children however were around, making quite a lot of noise, I found it hard because I will trying to understand what my boss was saying but couldn't really understand what she was saying because of the noises in the background. This shows the importance of the environment you have when trying to communicate with someone. (B. Stretch, M. Whitehouse, 2007)
Disability can be a problem when communicating. Initially there are the problems of assumptions and stereotypes. So just because someone is in a wheelchair and has a carer, it is easy at times to forget the person in the wheelchair and ask the carer what the person wants rather than talking directly to the person in the wheelchair, who could well be physically disabled rather than mentally disabled. It can also mean that you need to make special arrangements to communicate with the person. At the nursery for example there was an autistic child who had a communication passport which contained details of what the child liked and disliked.
Inside the passport there was a set of pictures of things like food, so it was possible to ask the child if he wanted fruit by pointing at the card, or a specific piece of fruit like an apple. The child was not to talk properly but was able to use non verbal language to communicate what he wanted sometimes. If he wanted you to read him a book, he would pick up a book and bring it to you and try and make you take it. If someone did not know he had a disability it would be easy for the person to misinterpret the child's actions.