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Adapt communication in response to the emotional context and communication style of others

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NOTE: Although this page has been marked as complete, it has not yet been peer-reviewed or quality-assured, therefore it should be considered a ‘first draft‘ and any information should be fact-checked independently.

For this assessment criterion, you will be required to demonstrate that you are able to adapt and extend your communication and responses to suit the needs of different people and situations.

As a manager of health and care services, you will be required to communicate effectively with a range of individuals in a range of situations and care must be taken to adapt the way that you communicate accordingly. Some of the factors that may be considered are explored below.

Formal vs Informal

Formal communication uses pre-defined channels within your organisation, such as email, meetings, reports etc. It can be thought of as official communication. Conversely, informal communication occurs more ad-hoc and freely. Chatting to a co-worker in the corridor is an example of informal communication, whilst presenting facts and figures to the board of directors would be an example of formal communication. Professionalism should still be observed in both informal and formal communication. The way that you communicate will be different in these two situations.

Personal vs Professional Relationships

The differences between personal and professional relationships are discussed here. For example, if you are talking to another healthcare professional, your communication would probably be straight to the point, however, communication with a co-worker that you have known for a long time may be more chatty and friendlier. Again, professionalism should still be observed.

Age/Developmental Age

An individual’s age can have an impact on the way that you communicate with them. A young adult may use slang that you do not understand and so you might reflect the words back to them to ascertain their meaning. An individual with a younger developmental age may require you to communicate in simple sentences that contain a maximum of 2-3 keywords and they may require more time to process information.

Similarly, you may need to simplify the way that you communicate for older individuals and they may have different expectations relating to the way that you address them (e.g. referring to them as Mr/Mrs, rather than their first name). As we get older, our senses deteriorate and so communication sta=rategies for individuals with sensory loss may be required (see below).

Pre-existing Communication Difference/Sensory Loss

The communication needs of individuals that you provided care and support services to will be documented in their care plans and so you should be familiar with these records. You should also be aware of ways to communicate with individuals that have other communication differences that are not service users, such as family members or other healthcare professionals.

Visual impairments may mean that you need to provide written communications in large print, braille or audio formats. Hearing impairments may mean using strategies such as sitting face-to-face with individuals so that they are able to read your lips. Assistive technology may be used to make communication easier and training may be required in other communication methods, such as Makaton, British Sign Language or the use of picture boards.


Although there is evidence to suggest that men and women communicate differently, to maintain fairness and equality, you should communicate with all genders in the same way.

Culture & Religion

You may need to adapt your style of communication to accommodate the cultural and religious needs of individuals. For example, some Muslims are prohibited by their religion to have physical contact with members of the opposite sex so they will not be able to shake hands with you.

Level & Complexity of Language Used

As stated previously, complex language (including jargon) may lead to a lack of understanding or misunderstandings amongst some individuals, so your language should reflect the comprehension level of the recipient. For example, clinical language and abbreviations may be appropriate when talking to another healthcare professional but be confusing to a service user.

Background Experiences

The efficacy of your communication may be affected by an individual’s previous experiences. For example, an individual that has had a negative previous experience with the social care system may be distrustful of all healthcare professionals. You may need to be empathetic to their feelings and use communication to build trust. For example, you may explain how to use the complaints procedure if they are unhappy with their care and support as well as providing contact details for the Care Quality Commission (CQC) if they wish to escalate an issue. Showing openness and transparency can help to reassure others and build mutual trust over time.


Your understanding of the audience to whom you are communicating will have a bearing on the way that you communicate with them. theories and models of communication (including Laswell’s model) put emphasis on the importance of considering the audience when planning communications. For example, if you are carrying out a presentation for your annual service review to service users and your families, you would explain how you have improved services to achieve better outcomes for service users. When you give the same presentation to the board of directors, you would perhaps also include how this has affected the organisation financially.

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