Before communicating with someone, it is important to ascertain their language ability, for example, whether English is their first language, or if there are any cultural differences that may risk causing offence or misunderstanding, or if they have any disabilities that may require you to use different techniques to ensure that you can effectively communicate with that person.
For example, I run a music and movement group for pre-school children. One child that attends has hearing implants. Therefore, it was important to identify the best means of communicating with Child A so that she could enjoy the session along with the rest of the group. By speaking to the child and the child’s parent, together we identified that as long as she could face us front on and there wasn’t too much background noise she could fully enjoy the whole experience. I also used pictures, props and some basic Makaton sign language as well as lots of movements to act out and help her and also some of the younger, less able communicators to follow what was happening.
Communication can develop positive relationships with children, young people and adults if done effectively using different means:
It is important to use clear, concise and simple language to communicate a message. This is the same whether it’s verbal or written communication. Too much ‘waffle’ can cause confusion or misunderstanding. To find out more about a person or their opinions use open questions to encourage discussion. For example, start questions with how, where, what, when, why, rather than did or This helps you get to know someone, and their thoughts which in turn gains their trust and give a greater understanding of that person. Also be open-minded, people are more likely to share information if you are non-judgemental. This is particularly true with young people who may be nervous or shy to open up and not being judgemental is key to building relationships with them.
But it’s not just about the words used in communication. Research undertaken by Albert Mehrabian (Professor Emeritus of Psychology, UCLA), in 1971, is still relevant today. He identifies that words (the literal meaning) account for 7% of the overall message, tone of voice accounts for 38% of the overall message and body language accounts for 55% of the overall message
Therefore, through face-to-face communication, non-verbal communication becomes the most powerful mode of communication. Particularly when conveying feelings or attitudes.
Crossed arms can show defensiveness, or disinterest. It’s best to use an open posture, hands by your sides facing the person straight on. Eye contact shows you are interested and focused on what the speaker has to say and facial expressions convey how words are meant to be understood. Children communicate much better if you are down at their level so they can see you face-to-face, rather than conversing with your middle.
Communication is a two-way activity and requires active listening from both parties. Once you have delivered a message, check for understanding or listen to what the other person has to say to make sure you are on the same wavelength and give them your full attention.
Using these communication techniques can help you effectively understand and learn about the other person, which in turn, shows respect, gains their trust and can develop positive relationships with children, young people and adults.
2. Explain the principles of relationship building with children, young people and adults
Whether developing relationships with children, young people, or adults the main principle of any relationship is trust.
Use effective communication techniques such as clear concise language, identify any barriers, be it language limitations, cultural differences or disabilities specific to the person. Use positive body…