Communication techniques

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There are many different ways to communicate with someone without using speech. Most communication techniques are visual or audio, but there is also touch orientated communication techniques such as Braille, moon and touch language. Visual communication techniques can be things such as hand gestures, makaton, sign language and body language.

Communication Type


How would this type of communication be used in a healthcare situation?


Method of communication using signs and symbols. It is a simpler form of sign language; it uses common vocabulary used in everyday speech this is so the user can speak as well as actions and signs. This communication can be both verbal and non-verbal.

When involved with children with learning difficulties Makaton can be used to help the child feel involved with conversations and safe in the environment.


Used by blind and visually- impaired people to read and write. Braille is a series of raised dots that represent the alphabet, punctuation and numbers. This is a non-verbal form of communication. (Stretch, B, Whitehouse, M. 2007)

To help the service user feel safe, secure and involved if their environment by providing information in Braille.

Sign Language

The use of hand shapes, facial expressions and movement to communicate. Used by hearing impaired or deaf, it is also

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a form of non-verbal communication.

To let the service user feel welcome in conversations and to let them know that they have been understood.

Facial Expressions

Communication using your face, for example angry, sad, happy, to show how you are feeling. Used by everyone. This is a non-verbal form of communication.

People can understand how you are feeling even if you do not say a word.

Body language

Important way of communicating, it uses your posture to show how you are feeling, such as;

* Aggressive body language: Showing physical threat.

* Attentive body language: Showing real interest.

* Bored body language: Just not being interested.

And many more.

Body language can refer to head (lips, teeth), Arm (elbow, hand) and leg (thigh, knee)

This is a non-verbal form of communication. (Stretch, B, Whitehouse, M. 2007)

Another way to see how a service user if felling, but also to show that you are interested, professionals should always show that they are interested so should never slouch.


Can send messages of care, affection, power over them or even sexual interest. Touch can easily be misinterpreted, for example you may comfort some one by holding their hand but they may interpret this touch as an attempt to dominate. If touch is required ask permission or gesture in a way that allows the other person to refuse your touch before proceeding. This is non-verbal communication.

Is a way to comfort a service user, however permission should be asked and touch should not be inappropriate.

Eye contact

The communication a person does with his or her eyes during speech. Important that the speaker establishes sincere eye contact with the audience so that full communication can take place. This is non-verbal communication.

To show the service user that the conversation is taken into account and that they are involved.

Hand Actions

Use gestures to try and explain what you want or what is wrong. It can also show how someone is feeling, for example if someone was aggressive they may ball their fists. Hand actions are a non-verbal type of communication.

Children learn though actions, the shaking of the index finger means “no”.


There are many different languages spoken with society today, such as ethnic communities that a service user may feel threatened or excluded by the kind of language they encounter. Also professionals may create barriers if they use technical terminology, also known as jargon. This is a verbal form of communication.

Appropriate language must be used when dealing with service users. If foreign then a translator should be present as soon as possible.


Writing information to inform people, people can type about their day or even plans for the weekend.

Email can also be used for contacting people when appointments need to be made or results are ready for collection. This is a non-verbal form of communication.

Should not be used in healthcare as formal meetings mean the service user can ask many questions as a one-to-one with their doctor. it also allows the doctor to see their reaction to the news, for example if someone was told by email that they had Cancer, they service user would be distraught and confused on what to do next.

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