As a social worker or support worker, communication will play a vital role in how you offer support to the individuals you work with. Five top communication tips are:
- Speak differently to different people
- Research the background of the person you are supporting
- Ask, don't tell
- Manage expectations
- Promote good self esteem
You’ll not only be using your verbal communication skills, but you’ll also need to use a range of methods and techniques, such as touch, sign language, body language and creative activities, to engage with children and young people.
The more effective your communication, the more effectively your support will be received, and the better the relationship will be between you and your service user.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has set an important legal standing on the significance of social workers’ communication with children and young people, with Article 12 establishing the child’s right to establish their views in anything that affects their life.
So, it is key that the channel of communication goes both ways - you will be listened to, if you also listen.
How can I be a better communicator?
Rodd Kippen, an advocate for children and young adults in care, makes the important point that young people want their social worker to ‘stand up and be brave’, and to make their support evident.
We’ve put together our top five ways of how you can do just this, and ensure that you build a strong relationship with the person you’re supporting.
No one communicates in the same way.
Everyone will respond to verbal and body language in a different way, so be prepared to try out some different ways of communicating until you find out what works best.
Do your homework.
Make sure that you know the background of the individual you’re supporting inside out. This will help you understand their difficulties better, and will help to build trust in your relationship - and once the trust is there, communication will be easier.
Ask, don’t tell.
Ask how someone is feeling, and how they feel about what may be happening to them, instead of telling them how they should feel.
Be honest. Don’t promise things until you know that they will be possible, and use your professional judgement about how much information you should share. This will also help to build trust, and encourage the service user to be honest with you too.
If you encourage someone to feel positive about themselves, then they will find it easier to see the good qualities in other people, and so build more productive relationships.
If you follow these five key steps, you’ll be able to communicate effectively to those you are supporting and be able to provide the highest quality of support.
If you are looking for your next role within social care, we can help.