To provide the necessary context for this assignment, I’m employed as a cardiology service manager, assisting the general manager by ensuring an exemplary level of care is provided in my department to meet patients’ needs sufficiently. I have a diverse range of responsibilities in my role, as I’m accountable for the operational management of my department by fulfilling administrative duties of analysing and monitoring financial and performance data as well as motivating and managing staff.
Effective internal and external communication are crucial in my position. Internally, a considerable amount of my duties involve liaising with staff and other team members. Displaying effective internal communication ensures that staff meet performance targets and deliver the best standard of care possible to service users, whilst also cultivating a harmonious and productive working environment. I have to demonstrate interpersonal skills whilst managing staff, ensuring that staff are motivated and on task and that any conflicts or disputes are resolved effectively. My communication skills also allow me to ensure the solvency and successful operational management of the department, whilst also enabling me to collaborate with other staff members on creating iniatives to improve patient satisfaction and outcomes, including chairing meetings and presentations.
Being able to communicate effectively in an external manner means that patients and their families are fully briefed of and involved in decisions pertaining to their care, by communicating information in a clear and succinct manner. This information can empower the patient to take a more active role within their treatment and potentially boost their engagement within the process. This style of communication also enables me to work with relevant organisations and agencies to co-ordinate patients’ care. Combining effective internal and external communication skills permit me to display sound leadership skills, ultimately ensuring the achievement and progression of my department.
Schramm (1954;1963) posits that communication is a two-way process of encoding (relaying) and decoding (making sense of and understanding) information and that unless the recipient is able to understand and provide feedback, the communication will be ineffective. This is validated in my own practice, especially when engaging in verbal discussions with patients and their families about their treatment and care. This can be an effective method of communication to provide patients with information about their condition, particularly if the recipient comprehends this information quickly. However, I’ve found that communicating verbally with patients can be difficult in certain situations, especially if they misunderstand what I’m trying to tell them or if they are distressed. Schramm (1954) eruditely explains that an individual’s knowledge and background can cause problems in decoding information, especially religious and cultural factors. In order to remedy this, The Royal College of General Practitioners (2014) suggest avoiding using jargon and unfamiliar words for patients and speaking slowly and clearly to reduce ambiguity and misunderstandings.
Part of my role often involves managing nurses and staff and conducting verbal performance reviews with them. Again, Schramm’s theory of communication is relevant in that staff need to provide feedback and respond to any points I’ve made, particularly my comments on their performance. If the communication is successful, they will acknowledge and appreciate my comments in the constructive manner I intended. This complies with the principles of Schramm’s (1954) model, where he notes that it is the recipient’s responsibility to provide feedback and inform the speaker they have understood the message in the way the speaker meant. This style of communication can be very effective if the staff member is open to feedback and advice, drastically improving their performance and output. Nevertheless, it has limitations when they are not receptive to feedback, potentially misconstruing the feedback and being offended by it. Dweck (2006) and Coon and Mitterer (2015) note that the mindset of an individual determines their response to feedback and subsequent motivation: if they have a growth mindset they will react positively to it whereas if they display a fixed mindset they will be unwilling to accept feedback and change their practice. This again reiterates the psychological factors which models of communication can partially neglect.
Shannon and Weaver (1949) outlined an authoritative and pioneering method of communication which analysed how messages were sent and received. This linear, mathematical model of communication states that communication begins with the sender, then an encoder (the machine or person that converts an idea into information), before being sent through a channel (such as an email), prior to being decoded before reaching the receiver (Shannon and Weaver, 1949). Shannon (1948) observes that in the decoding process, the information can be subject to ‘noise’, internal (i.e. misinterpreting information) or external (e.g. a failed internet connection).
I frequently utilise this method of communication in my work, both digitally and in written communication. I regularly communicate digitally with colleagues and share information with them in that way. Part of my role as service manager is to monitor financial and employee performance data, ensuring that all my department’s resources (staff, equipment) are being used for maximum benefit and implementing cost improvement plans and other fiscal efficiency measures. Shannon and Weaver’s (1949) linear model is especially useful for communicating this type of quantitative information as it allows me to share information with colleagues in a clear and expedient manner. This boosts efficiency and productivity and this model of communication allows for issues to be speedily detected and resolved.
Nevertheless, I’m also responsible for collaborating with colleagues on strategies and proposals to improve practice and service improvement projects. This involves communicating qualitative information which can be occasionally misinterpreted by other staff members (the ‘noise’ in Shannon and Weaver’s model). Al-Fedaghi (2012) notes that this illustrates one of the shortcomings in this model in that it assumes all communication is mathematical and information-based, rather than having meanin. This similarly applies to digital and written communication of qualitative information which can easily be misinterpreted. Using the Shannon-Weaver (1949) model of communication for digital and written communication has definite applications in communicating quantitative data but has limitations in communicating qualitative information.
Presenting to Large Groups
Mehrabian and Ferris (1967) philosophise that approximately 93% of communication is non-verbal (eye contact, facial expressions). This is an important factor to recognise when maintaining presence in interviews and presentations in that there are numerous non-verbal methods of doing so. Barnlund’s (1968) transactional model of communication also takes into account the non-verbal aspects of communication, elaborating that maintaining presence develops from two individuals sustaining communication through a series of public, private and behavioural cues.
Glass (2012) notes that maintaining eye contact is a very powerful method of establishing control and exuding dominance and presence. Barnlund (1962) expounds on this by stating that communication is reciprocal in that the sender and receiver are constantly sending messages between one another. This illustrates the importance of building a rapport in order to establish presence: Glass (2012) notes that maintaining eye contact shows that you are paying attention to the other person, thus building presence through a non-verbal behavioural cue (Barnlund, 1968).
Another non-verbal behavioural cue useful in building presence is the body language that a presenter/interviewee expresses. Pease and Pease (2017) note that the type of posture that an individual uses can denote power and authority: someone who sits or stands alert and upright with good posture is illustrating that they are fully engaged and are comfortable within themselves. Barnlund (1968) notes in his transactional model that communication can be either intrapersonal (encoding and decoding messages within oneself) and interpersonal (sharing messages with one another). Someone who displays this type of posture is communicating interpersonally that they are self-confident, friendly and open, which naturally contribute to having a presence.
Chartran and Baugh (1999) report that mirroring (also known as mimicry) can be a very effective technique in displaying presence and delivering presentations to large groups. It relates heavily to Barnlund’s (1968) transactional model of communication as the person does not only mirror the other individual’s body language, they often replicate the speech pattern and actions of the other person/people. Thus infers that they are displaying behavioural (verbal and non-verbal) and private cues (beliefs and attitudes). Goldstein et al. (2008) note that mirroring can often be key to building a rapport and strengthening bonds between people as it shows that they value the individual. Consequently, it can lead to that person/people valuing and respecting the other person more, thus naturally being a way of developing and managing presence.
In terms of delivering presentations to large groups (including chairing meetings) mirroring is a strong persuasive device. Guegen et al. (2011) report that mirroring can often convince an audience to share the opinions and viewpoints of the presenter, even having applications in increasing sales and productivity (Jacob et al., 2011). Harnessing the full diaspora of cues from Barnlund’s (1968) transactional model could have powerful effects in developing a presence and effectively delivering presentations.
Berlo’s (1960) sophisticated model of communication provides a framework which dissects the various elements of preparing and delivering successful presentations to large groups of people:
Berlo’s model (1960) states that the source and receiver need to be on the same level for a presentation to be successful, implying that when planning a presentation an individual should consider their communication skills and knowledge (source) to ensure that they are compatible with the audience that they are presenting to (receiver). Vygotsky (1978) defines this in an educational context: the presenter (or teacher) should be of relatively similar knowledge to the audience in order for successful listening/learning to take place. This has the implication that if the deliverer of the presentation is of a significantly higher intelligence than their audience, they may have to modify their communication to explain things at a level their audience can understand.
Berlo’s (1960) framework has applications in planning presentations as it encourages the deliverer to consider the message (structure and format) and channel (medium such as PowerPoint or lecture) of what they are presenting to ensure that is commensurate with the needs of the receiver (audience/listener). Gardner (2006) elaborates on this, advocating that someone who delivers presentations or chairs meetings should consider the wide array of learning styles and dispositions of their audience and cater for them sufficiently. This may involve incorporating interactive activities within a presentation, delivering their presentation in multiple formats (i.e. PowerPoint, written and audio) and accommodating those of different cultures and faiths.
This assignment has covered numerous styles of communication and outlined how they are relevant to my practice. I can integrate these styles of communication and demonstrate my proficiency in various modes of communication through several activities.
In my role, I communicate verbally with a wide range of individuals, including nurses, doctors, those in leadership and managerial roles and patients and their families. This allows me to demonstrate exemplary communication skills as I have to regularly tailor and adapt my communication to suit the needs of the people I am conversing with. This adaptability has enabled me to foster effective working relationships with patients and staff. I can demonstrate evidence of this within my portfolio by obtaining testimonials and references from those who I work with.
As part of my role I regularly compile written and digital reports on varied topics such as financial and performance data, service improvement proposals, reports on good practice in addition to staff appraisals and reviews. This requires me to communicate clearly and effectively to represent information in an accessible and unambiguous manner. Whilst respecting confidentiality, examples of the service improvement proposals and reports on good practice I’ve completed could be included as evidence for my portfolio to ratify my communication skills.
The agenda for meetings that I’ve planned can help to demonstrate my effective chairing of meetings as it demonstrates that I’ve considered a wide range of factors such as time, audience and importance of issues to ensure that the meeting runs smoothly. The minutes of the meetings I’ve chaired can illustrate that I’ve prioritised issues effectively to ensure that all topics are covered and demonstrate my proficiency at chairing meetings. The targets set at the end of the meeting and progress made towards achieving those goals within the given deadlines are also relevant documentation to prove my capability at chairing meetings.
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