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Talking is often seen as the most common method or type of communication but most communication is silent. Gestures, tone of voice, grins, grimaces, shrugs, nods, moving away or closer, crossing arms and legs all tell us far more than words. Learning to take account of these reactions is all part of developing your communication skills to achieve the best outcomes for individuals. Communication can be harder when we can’t see these signs like when we use the phone, texts or email.

Individuals will have ways of communicating that work best for them. Some of the different types of communication are:

  • Verbal communication - Differences in how you speak, including the tone, pitch and volume of your voice could change how your messages are taken in. Try to avoid using jargon or abbreviations and complicated words and terminology.
  • Make sure you always speak in a respectful way, adjusting your speech to suit the individual.
  • Sign language - This is a recognised language throughout the world. British Sign Language (BSL) is used by individuals in this country and there are variations of sign language in different regions.
  • Makaton - This is a form of language that uses a large collection of signs and symbols. It is often used with those who have learning and physical disabilities, or hearing impairment.
  • Braille - Is a code of raised dots that are ‘read’ using touch. For people who are visually impaired or who are blind, the system supports reading and writing.
  • Body language – This is a type of nonverbal communication. There are many different aspects of body language, including gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, body positioning and body movements. Each of these will communicate information about an individual or a worker often without them realising it.
  • Gestures – These are hand or arm movements that emphasise what is being said or used as an alternative to speaking.
  • Facial expressions – These support what is being said by showing reactions or feelings. They can give you valuable clues that you can use to check out their feelings.
  • Eye contact - Maintaining good eye contact is an important way for a worker to show that they are engaged and listening.
  • Position - The way that we stand, sit or hold our arms when we are talking will provide others with clues about our feelings, attitude and emotions.
  • Written communication - This method is used to send messages, keep records, or provide evidence.