QCF Unit 1 – 3.1 Identify barriers to effective communication

Posted on January 22, 2011 by

Assessment Criteria: 3.1 Identify barriers to effective communication


Sensory deprivation – when someone cannot receive or pass on information because they have a impairment to one or more of their senses, most commonly a visual or a hearing disability.

• Foreign language – when someone speaks a different language or uses sign language, they may not be able to make any sense of information they are being given by someone trying to help them if that person does not speak their language.

• Jargon – when a service provider uses technical language the service user may not understand. For example, the doctor may say that a patient needs bloods and an MRI scan. That can sound very frightening to someone who has been rushed into hospital. It is better if the doctor explains that they need to take some blood to do some simple tests and then explains what a MRI scan is. Understanding the facts can make something seem less scary.

• Slang – when a service user uses language that not everyone uses, such as saying they have a problem with their waterworks. This can mean their plumbing system but also means a problem going to the toilet. Sometimes it may be appropriate to use slang with your peers but in normal working with colleagues or service users you should avoid using any language that can be misunderstood or misinterpreted or that might cause offence.

Cultural differences – when the same thing means different things in two cultures, communication can be difficult. For example, it is seen as polite and respectful to make eye contact when speaking to someone in Western culture but in other cultures, for example in East Asia, it can be seen as rude and defiant.

• Distress – when someone is distressed, they might find it hard to communicate. They may not listen properly and so misinterpret or not understand what is being said. They might also be tearful or have difficulty speaking.

• Emotional difficulties – we all have emotional difficulties at times and become upset. You might have split up with your boyfriend or girlfriend or had an argument with someone or you may have had some bad news. The effect can be to not hear or understand what people are saying to you. This can lead to misunderstandings.

• Health issues – when you are feeling ill, you may not be able to communicate as effectively as when you are feeling well. This can affect your colleagues and service users. Similarly, people who are being cared for in hospital because of an illness may not be able to communicate in their normal way. Some long-term (chronic) illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease or Multiple Sclerosis also affect an individual’s ability to communicate and you need to be aware of this if you are working with these people.

• Environmental problems – when communication is affected by the environment that people find themselves in. For example, someone who does not see very well will struggle to read written information in a dimly lit room. A person who is in a wheelchair may find it impossible to communicate with the receptionist at the dentist’s if the desk is too high and above the wheelchair user’s head.

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