As a social worker, effective communication is significant, because it helps to build a relationship between the social worker and the client. Social workers communicate with clients as well as other professionals to obtain essential information that is relevant to the client’s needs. They are also responsible for making critical decisions that affects the lives of others and diffusing conflicts. Various types of communication are pertinent to social work. Communication is not only speaking. It also involves listening skills, body language/gestures and being in control of emotions.
However, building trust with the client is most important in order to be an effective and successful social worker. Effective communication helps to understand others and their situations better and enables a warn environment that allows resourceful ideas, concern, and problem solving techniques.
Shaw (2005). The social worker communicates with other professionals by taking details from the referrer about the client and his or her needs as well as the best way to help.
They will discuss the reason for the referral and their opinion of the client and the family members. This will give the social worker a general idea of the issue at hand. Depending on what the situation may be, the client will have to depend on the social worker to refer him or her to a colleague or an external agency. The client will give additional details to help the social worker to better understand the type of he is needed to help make the situation better. During this time the client is being assessed by gathering and interpreting information that is given to identify problems. National Association of Social Work (2005).
After the assessment has been completed, the social worker will need to decide what type of help will most benefit the client and which service providers would be best to help the client. In some cases, the client(s) may be in the midst of a conflict and it is important that the social worker immediately get involved to calm the situation. The social worker should know not to judge or threaten the clients, because it will make matters worse. According to Social and Health Services (2011), social workers should also know to keep their voices at a normal tone, regardless of the client(s) tone; if not, the problem could escalate. In addition, the social worker might find it to be necessary to invite a nonbiased person to help mediate and settle the issue at hand. It is vitally important for the social worker to know the correct way to solve disputes in order to avoid negativity.
Verbal communication is a mixture of being positive, carefully and wisely choosing words, modulating voice tone, clarity, and summarizing. The conversation might have the potential for some type of confusion or conflict, but if it is started on a positive note, the atmosphere will be positive and the chance for conflict will lessen. Using words that usually cause others to be defensive should be avoided. An example of this is,” you did not do a good job.” Instead, it could be said like, “you did well, but some adjustments could be made to improve it.” The voice tone is another big part of communication. It has the potential to set the mood. Yelling would create a hostile mood and a soft tone would create a calm mood. The tone can also determine if someone is going to pay attention to what said or not. The voice tone should be adjusted according to what is being said and the point being made. Science Serving Justice (2007). To avoid confusion when speaking, one should speak clearly and be as specific as possible. It is also good to summarize what was said to ensure others have complete understandings.
Interviewing clients is another important responsibility of a social worker’s job. In order to do this effectively, the social worker has to pay attention to all details by listening carefully. Listening also helps with taking notes as well as recalling a particular detail at a later time. Good listening has the ability to create strong relationships between the professional and the client and it creates a safe atmosphere for the client. Positive body language can help the client to feel safe, secure and comfortable. Eye contact, holding one’s head up, sitting tall, and smiling when appropriate are all examples of good body language. Only positive behaviors should be displayed in the presence of the client. Interview Techniques for Social Workers (2014). According to HelpGuide.org (2014), emotions play a huge part in the way people communicate in general.
However, the social worker must know how to remain in control of his or her emotions in order to be able to make the right decisions for the client. It is not wise to emotionally get involved with the clients and their issues. This will only interfere with the decision making process and the client will most likely suffer because of it. It is also important to build trust through communication, because without trust, the client would not share their problems and depend on the social worker for help. Without communication, the social worker would not be successful and the client would most like not be interested in receiving assistance or support of any kind. According to Helio F. Garcia (2012), interacting with people is most important and it also determines success professionally as well as in everyday life.
Social workers must have effective communication, because they are required to obtain information from the clients and may have to relate to other professionals. They must have good listening skills, body language, and emotional control. Such skills will help to build trust; which will allow a close professional/client relationship. Communication has the potential to determine the outcome.
Shaw A. (2005) Communication Skills. Why Communication Skills? Retrieved April 27, 2014 from http://learntech.uwe.ac.uk/communicationskills/default.aspx?pageid=1376
Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. (2011) Transforming Lives. Retrieved April 27, 2014 from http://www.dshs.wa.gov/manuals/socialservices/sections/Assess.shtml
Science Serving Justice. (2007) Verbal Communication Retrieved April 27, 2014 from http://www.nfstc.org/pdi/Subject08/pdi_s08_m01_02.htm
Media, D. & Williams, E. Work (2014). Interview Techniques for Social Workers. Retrieved April 27, 2014 from http://work.chron.com/interview-techniques-social-workers-16674.html
National Association of Social Workers. (2005) NASW Standards for Clinical Social Work in Social Work Practice. Retrieved April 27, 2014 from https://www.socialworkers.org/practice/standards/NASWClinicalsWStandards.pdf
HelpGuide (2014). Effective Communication Retrieved April 27, 2014 from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/effective_communication_skills.htm
Garcia, H. (2012) American Management Association. How to Use Communication to Build Trust and Inspire Loyalty, as Well as Lead Effectively. Retrieved April 27, 2014 from http://www.amanet.org/training/articles/How-to-Use-Communication-to-Build-Trust-and-Inspire-Loyalty-as-Well-as-Lead-Effectively.aspx