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Health and social care work often involves formal communication. For example, if you went to a local authority social services reception desk you might expect to be greeted with the phrase ‘Good morning. How can I help you?’ This formal communication is understood by a wide range of people. Formal communication also shows respect for others. The degree of formality or informality is called the language ‘register’. Imagine going to the reception desk and being greeted with the phrase ‘What you after then?’ Some people might actually prefer such an informal greeting. It might put them at ease, making them feel that the other person is like them. But in many situations, such informal language could make people feel that they are not being respected. Being ‘after something’ could be a ‘put down’; you might assume that you are being seen as a scrounger. So it is often risky to use informal language unless you are sure that other people expect you to do so. If you are treated informally, you may interpret this as not being treated seriously, or ‘not being respected’. So is there a correct way to speak to people when you first introduce yourself? After all, if you are too formal you may come across as pretentious or ‘posh’. Usually care workers will adjust the way they speak in order to communicate respect for different ‘speech communities’.
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This passage is talking about how you need to communicate if you are in the fields of health care or social work. It is talking about the difference between formal and informal communication.
The passage tells us that workers in health care and social work usually need to use formal forms of communication. They would say things like “Good morning. How can I help you?” They would not say things like ‘What you after then?’ Some people think that informal communication would be better because it would make customers feel more comfortable. However, it would be better for them to use formal communication because everyone will understand that language and because people will feel more like the workers are showing them respect. They will feel that you are not taking them seriously if you speak to them informally.
The passage ends by saying that health care and social workers have to try to speak in different ways for different situations. They can’t be too formal because that will make them seem like they are too distant from the people they are trying to help. At the same time, they cannot sound too informal or they might insult their patrons. Therefore, they have to try to find a middle way of speaking that will be appropriate and they need to adjust the way they speak to make it fit any given circumstance.
This passage discusses the degree of formality, also known as "register", used in verbal communication, especially by health and social care workers. Using more formal language can make the other party feel more respected, but may also come off as slightly arrogant. On the other hand, using informal language is oftentimes more comfortable, but some make take it as a sign of disrespect. In order to balance the advantages and disadvantages of the different registers, care workers often adjust their level of formality according to how to conversation flows.
When it comes to health care and social work, there do not seem to be hard and fast rules for communication in regards to formal or informal communication. What does seem crucial to the job, is having the ability to read a client or consumer and the current situation and decide when to use formal or informal speech. The type of work scenario as well as the socio-economic factors ("speech communities") of those part of the interaction can influence this as well. Formal speech might be necessary to gain initial respect and trust with some people, especially in more serious situations.
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