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Analyse how models of communication can meet the individual’s personal needs, wishes and preferences

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

NOTE: Although this page has been marked as complete, it has not yet been peer-reviewed or quality-assured, therefore it should be considered a ‘first draft‘ and any information contained herein should be fact-checked independently.

Previously, we explored several models and theories of communication. For this assessment criterion, you will analyse how these models of communication could be used in your practice to meet the personal needs, wishes and preferences of the individuals that you support.

Laswell’s model of communication

Although Laswell’s model of communication was originally designed for broadcast-type communications that are one-way and do not take feedback or noise into account, the five elements of analysis that he presents can be used to adapt our communication to become more effective communicators. To review, the five elements are:

  1. Control analysis
  2. Content analysis
  3. Media analysis
  4. Audience analysis
  5. Effect analysis

Time should be spent to consider each of these elements to ensure communication is as effective as possible.

Control analysis is concerned with who sent the message and how their personal characteristics and reputation can influence the message. For example, if a service user needs to be given some bad news (e.g. a bereavement) they will feel more comfortable if it is delivered by someone that they work closely with and trust, such as their keyworker. Similarly, advice about an individual’s health would be more convincing if it came from an authoritative source, such as their GP or community nurse.

Content analysis refers to the actual content of the message. When communicating with service users, the things we say should be honest, factual and free from our own personal views and biases.

Media analysis is the consideration of the channel that is used for communication. Face-to-face communication, telephone and video are all examples of channels that may be used. It is important that the channel used is suitable for the unique needs of each individual. For example, an individual with a hearing impairment may not be able to communicate effectively via a voice call on their mobile phone but may be able to do so via text messaging or even video call if they are able to see the communicator’s lips clearly enough to lip read.

Audience analysis is concerned with whom will receive the message. As stated in the previous paragraph, we should always take each individual’s needs, wishes and preferences into account when communicating with them. For example, if we are explaining something to an individual with a learning disability, we may need to keep sentences short, avoid long words and use a minimal number of keywords.

Finally, effect analysis explores the intended (and unintended) effects of the communication. We should always consider the goals of our communication when sending a message. For example, the goal of explaining the risks of performing an activity to a service user would be to ensure that they are fully informed and to collaborate on ways to minimise the risk. Similarly, we should review the effects of our communication to assess if our goals have been achieved, however, that can only be performed by obtaining feedback, which is covered in transactional models below.

Transactional models of communication

One of the limitations of linear models of communication, such as Laswell’s, is that feedback is not taken into account. That is, messages are transmitted by an active sender to a passive audience. In the care sector, we understand that we must work in partnership and encourage active participation and collaboration, so models that acknowledge two-way communication are needed. This is where transactional models of communication can be useful.

By considering that communication involves the alternate and simultaneous transmission and reception of messages between individuals, we can understand that there may be more to a conversation than simply the words that are being said. For example, facial expressions and body language can send messages that can let you know if an individual understands or is interested in what you are saying.

The subject of noise is also considered, which can help us to overcome some of the barriers to effective communication.