Step 1.
Listen attentively to instructions and respond appropriately


Step 2.
Clarify instructions to ensure a complete understanding of the task


Task 1. Receive and act upon instructions

You are a Laboratory Technician at SimuLab Laboratories and today is a typical working day. In the morning you will be working in Specimen Reception (receiving and processing specimens for testing) and after lunch you will be working in the Biological Laboratory. You have worked in Specimen Reception before, but this is your first day ‘solo’.

This unit of competency will assess your ability to communicate in your workplace. As you are working in a testing laboratory, your scientific knowledge and interpretation skills will be required. Work through the following steps in order.

Step 1. Listen attentively to instructions and respond appropriately

Prior to commencement of any laboratory work or handling of samples you must know what you are required to do, how to do it, and where to access information about the task.

When the number of steps involved in the communication process is considered, it is a miracle that we are able to communicate effectively at all.

Non-verbal communication such as body language is a major component of communication.

If you would like some examples of and information about body language, click on the link below.

Personal Study Personal Study: Body Language

Listening is the first step to effective communication. Listening is an active process and must be done in an alert and positive manner. In effect, the process involves the transmission of ideas from the brain of one person to the brain of another person.

Active Listening means:
  • turning your full attention to the speaker
  • being aware of the speaker's body language
  • giving eye contact if appropriate
  • taking notes
  • going over the main points and asking clarifying questions
  • responding with appropriate body language to their message.

Use the following link to do an activity.

Activity Activity: Process for Transmission of an Idea

Verbal Communication can also be disrupted and hindered by many factors, which include:

  • language and accents
  • cultural differences
  • level, pitch and intonation of speech
  • background noise
  • interruptions
  • unnecessary detail
  • not enough detail
  • small talk
  • talking too fast
  • talking too slow
  • mental abilities and experience of both parties
  • illness, including mental illness
  • misunderstandings
  • jumping to conclusions
  • only half listening
  • moods and attitudes.

Use the following link to obtain an assignment on how to overcome disruptive factors.

GoTo Activity: Assignment - Overcoming Disruptive Factors to Improve Communications

The Senior Technician is in Specimen Reception when you arrive and gives you verbal instructions which you can listen to shortly. You will find them confusing, as he is unable to give you his full attention.

Click on the adjacent picture of the Senior Technician to hear these instructions - you should make notes of the important points as your understanding of these instructions will be assessed later.

In the following activity, you will be asked to test your recall and understanding of the Senior Technician's instructions by answering some questions about his instructions. If you need to listen again, replay the instructions.

Activity Activity: Understanding the Senior Technician's instructions.

Verbal communication must have certain characteristics if information is to be passed on clearly. The following activity involves your understanding of these characteristics.

Activity Activity: Characteristics of Good Verbal Communication

Step 2. Clarify instructions to ensure a complete understanding of the task

When given verbal instructions, especially long and complicated ones, you not only need to listen carefully but you also need to ensure that you understand the instructions that you have been given.

Clarification of instructions may involve the following activities.

  • Asking the speaker to repeat the instructions
  • Asking the speaker to explain (clarify) the instructions
  • Asking the speaker questions
  • Relating the instructions to tasks previously performed
  • Writing the instructions in steps
  • Asking the speaker to give the instructions in writing
  • Using written resources such as SOPs, instructions, protocols, manuals
  • Asking other staff members for guidance and assistance.
The following activity asks you to review and evaluate the instructions from the Senior Technicians previously listened to and to comment on how various strategies could have been employed to clarify the instructions.

Click on the adjacent picture of the Senior Technician to listen to the verbal instructions again and then on the Activity link to obtain an assignment about clarifying instructions.

Activity Activity: Assignment - Clarifying Instructions

Failure to communicate clearly can have serious consequences in the workplace. This is particularly the case in a laboratory where instructions and procedures need to be precise.

GoTo Activity: Assignment - Workplace Experience and Failure to Communicate

Understanding a message or document in a laboratory means more than just understanding the English language. You also need to:

  • understand the scientific terminology
  • be able to recognise symbols
  • be able to generate and understand tables and graphs
  • be able to complete mathematical calculations.

The following activity should test your understanding of some of these things.

Personal Study Personal Study: Understanding Science Terminology

To continue, click on this link:
Task 2. Receive and convey messages

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