#CITYOT: Communication is everything

Can I Tell You One Thing?  Communication is everything.

Communication:  the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium.

It sounds so easy when you see it written down, doesn’t it?  However, communication is a process of steps, not just one and many people forget this.

CommunicationThe Communication Process:

Step 1:  A message is sent (sender to receiver)

This can be verbally (face to face), verbally (over the phone) or written (in an email or letter) or written (in a home/school book).

This can sometimes be an issue.  People forget to send the message or people presume that people have received the message.

Step 2:  A message is received

This can sometimes be an issue.  Sometimes messages don’t get through or perhaps, if in face to face scenarios, the message is missed as the person receiving it is processing another piece of information.

Step 3:  The message is interpreted.  

This is where the issues often begin.  The interpretation can be problematic.  Anyone receiving your message may interpret it in many ways.

Why is Communication so important?

Good communication between practitioners and families makes all the difference.  Families being left in the dark is a common issue and often practitioners, when they eventually do speak with the family, may forget that the family has been in the dark.  We often have no idea what is going on when you are not returning calls or emails.  We don’t imagine you are sat in Costa having a break but we do imagine that perhaps you haven’t seen our email or received our message to ring.  Sometimes we may even imagine you are avoiding us.  Just a quick email to say you will be responding the next day/week can go a long way to helping a relationship.

If you are a teacher or a care worker, perhaps you spend time with our child/young person without us.  Letting us know how the day went, either with a quick email or note in the communication book, can help us to share the day’s experiences with our child.

When communication breaks down,  the relationship can often follow.  The impact on our child and our family when this happens is huge.  None of us want to have constant changes, we want the relationships to work.

When people start to worry about communicating because they are worried it will be misinterpreted, then perhaps they need to ask why the information they share has been misinterpreted before?  The fault is not always that of the person receiving the message.

So think about the message you are sending and what you actually mean to say.  Think about the person receiving the message.  Put yourself in their shoes, how would you feel if you received this message?

We know that sometimes the messages you have to send are not ones we may want to hear.  However, don’t constantly delay sharing that message and don’t send it without trying to empathise with how it will make us feel when we receive it.

Poor communication can also result in more work for you, making you a less effective employee.  Having to constantly go back to explain what you meant, or to address issues arising from poor communication is time consuming and, let’s be honest, it can be soul destroying.  No one wants this so how can you improve your communication?

Things to consider:

A good communicator should know their audience.  Parents can be tired, scared, depressed or plain angry with the whole process.  This needs to be considered.

Does your message contain information with the potential to be misunderstood?  For example, “it was not his worst day” may infer that it was still a bad day and parents may be worrying if no further information is in the message.

Have you re-read your message before sending it?

Have you reflected on how you would feel if you received the message?

Have you clarified any possible misunderstandings?

Have you used jargon?

Have you checked that the person understood?

Have you given the person receiving the message details on how to come back to you if they do not understand or need a point clarifying?

Over to you

Poor communication or a total lack of communication can lead to conflict.  Share your top tip for better communication with us so we can share them with others

Debs Aspland

Mum to three great kids, each with a different SEN. Transplanted from the NW to the SE. Co-founder and Director of Bringing Us Together

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