Effective communication is the heart of social work. That’s why this article intends to help you to learn communication skills in social work. How to thoroughly educate yourself on the subject is another thing that we will talk about.
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What is Effective Communication Skills in Social Work?
If you are asked to imagine the most humanitarian field of work, what do you think of at first? Social work is definitely at the top of that list. Empathy, communication, patience and critical thinking are just a few of the social work skills required in this profession.
Great communication skill is fundamental to professional relationships that demand compassion. That’s why communication skills are essential in social work. In fact, in any occupation, communication is critical.
Successful communication is, which helps us better understand people, thus, situations. It helps us celebrate diversities, build respect and trust. And to create situations for solving problems and sharing creative ideas.
Importance of Communication Skills in Social Work
Lack of efficiency in communication between social workers and clients can lead to severe consequences. In addition, poor communication skills in social work can contribute to the harm and lack of care for clients.
For example, failed communication among professionals can even lead the children to face severe consequences who are under the care of social services.
Moreover, without practical communication skills in social work, one won’t be able to do the following:
1. Find out what service users, carers or other professionals seeking for.
2. Produce the kind of data others need.
3. Check complex situations correctly.
4. Negotiate, interfere or mediate authoritatively, sensitively, and appropriately.
6 Effective Communication Skills in Social Work
Communication occurs face-to-face, virtually, via images and notes, and in sign language. Also, through touch or via interpreters in the situation when there is no common language.
Besides, technological media now supplement letters, paper records, and formal court reports. Therefore, social workers need to be careful to use E-blogs and social networking sites with professional codes of conduct.
According to the book ‘Communication and Interpersonal Skills in Social Work (2008)’ by Juliet Koprowska, communication is both interactive and context related. Therefore, it needs careful consideration. However, several barriers may be involved in communication—barriers like authority, language, ability, personality, gender, age, class.
By identifying and removing barriers, we can achieve proper communication. One can achieve this by practising lenience and an impartial approach to communication.
Social workers must exhibit several skills while interviewing or imposing a client. There are six different sectors to work on to develop your communication skills in social work. Let’s look at what they are and why they are important-
1. Verbal Communication
2. Non-Verbal Communication
3. Active Listening
6. Personal Learning
Two main verbal communication skills are listening skills and interview skills. These are crucial for building effective and respectful relationships with service users, which lie at the heart of the best social work practitioner.
Verbal communication is a crucial skill in social work practice. It refers to facial interactions. Which includes the impact of actual words we use while speaking. Social workers must be aware of HOW and WHAT they say in certain situations.
For example, if the social worker does not get the situation correctly, it will inevitably create barriers. Further, social workers tend to work for vulnerable sections of society. Therefore, it is possible that their involvement may invoke reactions of fear or shame. As a result, this will cause them to feel not listened to or misunderstood.
Furthermore, the social worker must obliterate any disbelief or power issues to build a transparent relationship with each client. Either this power is real or anticipated in particular situations.
On the other hand, unity plays a vital role during the interview process. It may not be entirely achievable to destroy the power imbalance. Yet, being aware of the need to achieve unity is another key. And unity can be achieved by using the proper verbal language. So that the service user can fully understand and be listened to.
Indeed, verbal communication skills in social work also play a significant role. Especially when you’re working with other professions and even colleagues. It is also essential for assessments and decision-making.
Social workers can show respect, warmth, and non-judgement for clients through such skills. To learn more about this, check out this course on Effective Communication Skills.
Non-verbal communication is a major component of interpersonal skill collection. It includes facial expression, posture, eye contact, and personal presentation. Also, non-verbal communication can contradict or support verbal communication.
The influence of non-verbal communication is not a new concept in this profession. There are two dimensions of non-verbal communication-
- Decoding or sensitivity
- Encoding or expressiveness
Non-verbal decoding refers to understanding the emotions carried through other’s non-verbal signs, such as facial expressions, voice tone, and body movements.
Non-verbal encoding refers to the capacity to express emotion through non-verbal signals. You can gather much knowledge of non-verbal communication by using observation skills.
According to professionals, there are five thousand hand gestures. And one thousand body postures exist along with that. Therefore, precise observation skills can be essential for social workers interviewing a client.
For example, the service user may tell the social worker they are coping fine and don’t need any help. However, a good social worker will contradict this by observing the client’s facial expression or body language. A social worker must be aware of their capability for non-verbal communication. Although, this capability is always somewhat limited. This capacity will provide them with an opportunity to analyse their role and impact.
Listening is the most utilised form of communication. Listening may appear straightforward. But, listening qualifies as the most prominent kind of communication. However, active listening skills need to be learned, practised in training, and developed. Also, it needs to be refreshed for practical use in real situations.
Active listening describes particular and demanding alertness on the social worker. Especially when involved in interviewing a client. Active listening is about being present emotionally, psychologically, and socially; not just physically.
The social worker can convey total interest and understand a client by using skills such as- paraphrasing, thoughtful questioning, open and closed questioning
The concept of self-awareness is vital in social work interviewing. Experts define self-awareness as “The process of getting to know your feelings, attitudes and values”. A key aspect of self-awareness is being aware of how others may perceive us. For example, in an interview, the social worker may think they are being laid back. However, for the client, it may be perceived as being uncaring.
Supervision is, therefore, an essential tool to explore any issues and gain feedback. Further importance of self-awareness is, understanding how external factors may affect social workers. Social workers should be aware of notions such as triggers, transference, and blind spots during the interview.
Be aware that the worker could be affected by a situation without knowing. Therefore, the use of ‘self’ is significant.
Empathy is another major communication skill in social work interviewing. This skill requires knowing or appreciating the sentiments of others. Social workers must display sensitivity and respect to their client’s feelings.
However, a social worker needs to be able to differentiate between empathy and sympathy. Therefore, it is a fundamental skill to achieving empathy, not merely expressing sympathy.
Communication today is very influential. Both in the business world and private life. You need strong communication skills to do any good for society, despite the category of your profession.
Speaking, listening, and writing are vital skills that a social worker needs to tap into every day unless they don’t want to perform best in their profession.
Effective communication is the centre of social work practice. One of the significant elements is effective communication skills in the social work profession. Social workers interact with clients to gain data and knowledge. Good listening skill is another of many skills a social worker must have.
The bottom line is that a good social worker must provide the most efficient services and counsel through their communicational skills. As a social worker, your role is vital, as you are the person who can communicate clearly with all sides and get them to agree. Therefore, a successful contribution to society.
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