Factors that may influence communication and interpersonal reaction

A big factor of how the environment can influence communication is how comfortable the participants are. The more comfortable someone is in an environment the better a sender and receiver of messages they will be. Someone will be comfortable in an environment if they have a close bond to other participants or there is a nice, easy atmosphere between participants. For example at a sexual health clinic both the service user and the professional will know that the service user is here to share something very private and sensitive with someone they have no bond with, this will make the service user uneasy and nervous so they may stutter their words when describing symptoms as they are uneasy about what the reaction of the professional will be.

Another factor about the environment that will influence communication is lighting. The environment that communication is taking place in needs to be well lit but not so bright it stuns the eyes. This is particularly important in a deaf school where the students need to be situated where the lighting provides good enough visibility to lip read or understand the signer’s signs.

The amount of noise in a communication environment is also important. Sometimes an area will be too noisy for someone to be able to hear and take in the messages being sent to them. This is particularly important in a deaf school as some of the students will have only a slight hearing impairment and may wear a hearing aid. Hearing aids make everything appear a lot louder to the ear, but if there are too many noises happening around people communicating with a deaf person there will be too many different noises for the deaf student to obtain the information they need therefore they will become confused and maybe stressed at all the noise.

Ability/Disability

If someone has a physical disability it is often the change in body language that has to occur to influence the communication. For example at school if a student is in a wheel chair the person trying to communicate with them will lower themselves down to the disabled person’s level. This will encourage the wheel chair user to engage in communication as they will not feel belittled or threatened by the ‘higher up’ person trying to communicate.

When wanting to communicate with someone with a cognitive disability it influences the communication as it means the person who is attempting to communicate has to think a lot more about the content and complexity of the communication. For example in a care home there may be residents with dementure or altzhymers, to communicate with these people you have to make the communication short and sharp as you have to consider due to their illness how much input the resident can take in and possibly remember or know how to respond to.

Sensory disabilities play a large part in influencing communication too, a sensory disability is anything that affects the senses. For example in a deaf school to communicate with a student you wouldn’t talk to them because they can’t hear you. You would have to find another way to communicate.

Culture

Culture influences communication as people are different in so many different areas, their; background, religion, ethnic class, gender, age. All of these areas contain restriction on communication whether it is the type of the communication or the content. For example in a case being dealt with by social services a Muslim woman would not be able to talk to a male professional as in her religion the only male she is to have contact with is her husband. Another example is at a hospital a Muslim woman would not be able to be treated by a man as it is unacceptable for any woman of her religion to be touched by any other man than her husband or male family members.

Values and Beliefs

People in there minds add up certain characteristics of people into a stereotype. This can be good or bad. For example in a care home a resident may have decided that anyone with tattoos, piercing and a crew cut hair style is a punk and doing the job to take advantage of vulnerable people, therefore if she gets a new carer that fits all of these characteristics she will immediately request a new carer as she does not like the look of this carer. Yet he could be the best carer ever it is simply the fact the resident has stereotyped this man so could be losing a great opportunity of communication with him.

If someone has prejudice views they will not communicate with people that she applies this prejudice to. For example in a hospital a service user may say I don’t want that surgeon to operate on me because he is black, this is prejudice and means there is a loss of communication between these two people.

Attitudes

People’s attitudes always influence whether and what they communicate with people. For example if someone had a bad attitude against wanting to quit smoking and meeting new people they would choose not to attend a support group so therefore they lose out on valuable information and practising of communication skills.

Content

Sometimes the content of communication someone wants to communicate can be complex, sensitive and difficult. This influences the communication as the sender has to think more carefully about the best and most effective way to communicate the message. For example in a hospital if a service user died in theatre the nurse would have to tell the family waiting outside, they would not just go out and say so and so is dead as that is insensitive. They would think carefully about the most appropriate way to tell the family, they would probably end up with the idea of going into the room, sitting the family down, lowering to their level and maybe comforting them by placing a hand on their hand or shoulder and quietly and slowly saying that unfortunately so and so passed away in theatre. It is a sensitive way of delivering a complex and difficult communication.

Emotion/Personality

Someone’s self esteem can influence communication because for example in an adoption home a child may have low self esteem so they think no one wants to communicate with them, therefore making them unapproachable to others as they will give the impression they are not open to communication.

If someone is unstable they may scare people as they think that if they try and communicate with the person they will be on a completely different wavelength and the communication would just be awkward so people don’t bother to try and communicate.

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