Communication is one of the most essential tools we have to help us interact with other people around us. We use it constantly in our everyday lives whether it be at work, with friends or at home with our families. The way we communicate reflects our personality and the way we come across to other people and build trust and relationships.
Reasons why people communicate.
• Building relationships with the people around us
• Maintaining relationships
• Sharing ideas and thoughts
• Expressing feelings and needs
• Gaining reassurance and acknowledgement
• Gaining information and sharing information
When we have a new child starting we have an “all about me” form that we ask the parent to complete. We do this to get to know the child and his/her likes and dislikes so that they can feel comfortable and to start building a relationship with that child and parent. We sit down with the parent to have a talk about this and also ask them if they would like a drink so that they feel welcome and at ease. As well as building relationships with the children and parents it is important to build relationships with the people we work with. Asking them questions about themselves and telling them about yourself.
When a parent brings a child in in the morning we greet them and the child saying good morning and smiling. Likewise when the child is collected saying goodbye and taking time talking to the parent about the child’s day. This helps maintain the relationship with the parent and child. Letting them know that we have time to speak to them and to listen. Likewise talking to the other staff members about their interests or if they had a nice weekend. Greeting them when coming in also helps to maintain a good working relationship with them.
It is important for adults as well as children that they feel listened to and feel like their ideas and thoughts are important. Listening to a child will not only help build a relationship with that child but also make the child feel valued and build their self esteem. Also listening to what they have to say and respecting their feelings is an important way to meet the child’s needs. When we meet new people one of the first things we do is to share and gain information with that person. This will help to establish a relationship with that person. This is also a vital part of working well with other people. When starting at the setting I first of all did this with the other staff by telling them about me and learning about them and also learning about the setting and how they do things there. With the children I asked them questions like their names and about the important people in their lives. This has helped me build relationships not just with the children at the setting but also the people that I work with.
Especially with the children that I work with I am finding it very important in building a relationship with them to reassure them and acknowledge their achievements. Praising them and showing them with my body language that they are important. They respond well to doing “high 5’s” and keeping eye contact while they are talking to me. Likewise using some of the same tools with parents and colleagues help to acknowledge and reassure them that I am interested in what they have to say.
It is very important to be able to communicate well with the people you work with. Not just to be happy yourself and to feel valued but also to provide the best care for the children in your setting. It is also important to be able to communicate well with the parents so that they feel that their needs are being met. They need to be able to leave the children in your care knowing that they will be safe and happy.
When communicating with people we don’t just use our voices but also non-verbal communication like eye contact, touch and body language. The non-verbal communication can be more powerful than the verbal. At the setting where I work we have a little boy who isn’t using many words yet to communicate. He will come and take your hand and show you what it is he wants. Using the information we have in the “all about me” form we know that he likes animals and to watch The Jungle Book on DVD. So we get the animals out and talk to him about them, asking him what noises those animals make and what they like to eat. Non-verbal communication is also very powerful when speaking to adults. Looking a the person you are speaking to can give you an idea of how they are feeling and also how they are reacting to what you are saying. The way you say some thing might be understood one way face to face with a person but will be understood differently over the telephone.
Likewise listening skills are a very good tool to communicate well with the people around you. If you don’t take time to listen to the children you will not be able to build a relationship with them. Also being able to learn from the other staff at your setting is important and would be impossible without good listening skills.
If the communication isn’t clear it can lead to misunderstanding. This can happen easily especially with children at a young age. It can also be a factor that a child, parent or colleague come from a different culture. As I am from Denmark but have lived in the UK for more than 13 years now I have felt this first hand. When I first moved here I worked with a man who used to speak to me as if I didn’t understand. That made me feel like I was inadequate whereas he probably thought he was helping me. On the other hand I have had people using long and difficult words that I didn’t understand and therefore making me feel less able to communicate with them. Feeling comfortable enough to ask questions and to say to the people you work with that you didn’t understand is very important so that misunderstandings don’t happen. Using different skills of communication would also be very helpful to make sure that the person you are talking to will be able to understand you. You might have to simplify your language or use visual aids like pictures or in some cases have to use outside help like a translator or a speech therapist.
To me good communication is all about building relationships with the people around you. This is even more important in the area of work that we do with children. Not only building the relationship with the parents, children and colleagues but to teach the children from a young age to also communicate well and to help them to learn to build their own relationships with us, the children around them and everywhere else that they meet other people.
Book used for information:
Level 3 Diploma Children & Young people’s Workforce
Early Learning and Childcare by Penny Tassoni, Kate Beith, Kath Bulman and Sue Griffin