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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 5, Lesson 2

Communication Styles

2 nurses Communication is more that just something we do verbally. We must consider the impact of tone of voice and body language on communication. Our body language affects how we communicate and may give rise to misunderstandings. We may be indicating verbally that we are in support of what another person is saying, while hands on our hips, our arms crossed over our chest and our posture of pulling back from the table indicate quite another message. Cultural differences in communication and body language can also impact communication.

"How" we communicate with others is as important as "what" we communicate and can help or hinder our ability to communicate and build relationships. Being aware of our own style of communication helps the collaboration process. For instance, if you are someone who gets to the point quickly and doesn't see the need for long discussions about a topic when it's pretty obvious to you what the solution could be, you might find yourself being impatient with someone who needs to look at an issue from a broad perspective, weighing all the possibilities before making a decision. That person, on the other hand, may feel you are rushing things and haven't carefully considered all the options.

Here are some common communication styles that you might encounter (Briggs, 1997). Can you see yourself in one of these?

  • Direct - To the point. Need to get to the bottom line quickly.
  • Indirect - "Global" thinker. Looks at the big picture. May take more time to come to a decision.
  • Dominating - In charge. May not always absorb input from another. Has a plan and wants to move it forward.
  • Cooperative - Non-judgmental. Can serve in peacemaker role and bring others to consensus. May shy away from confrontation.
  • Non-verbal - Does not actively engage in discussions, but silence may be the way they express themselves. Watch for body language.

Reflect on what you have read up to this point in Our Journey with Families: Service Delivery in Natural Environments in Rural Areas Can you identify times when the service providers communicated well with the family? To what would you ascribe their good communication skills? Experience? Cultural understanding? Education?


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