One of the most important traits for anyone considering a career as a community service worker is being a good listener. Community service workers are responsible for providing both emotional and practical support to clients, many of whom may be in a vulnerable position. This requires a deep level of empathy and understanding, which can only be achieved by really listening to someone.
Many people wrongly assume that listening is a passive activity, and that it’s easy. However, real listening requires focus, patience, and open-mindedness. For a community service worker, it’s essential that you give your clients the space to express any worries or concerns they may have, and that you allow them to feel heard.
Read on for some top tips on how you can be a better listener.
Remove Distractions and Give the Person Speaking All of Your Attention
It might sound obvious, but removing or turning off any potential distractions will instantly improve your listening ability. Whether it’s a TV in the background, a pinging phone, or a radio, it can be very easy for our minds to drift away from the conversation happening in front of us. Even if it’s only for a few seconds, you could miss an important detail. It could also make the speaker feel as though they are not a priority and stop them from opening up or trusting you.
This can be detrimental in everyday life with friends and loved ones, and even more so as a community service worker. Those studying for a community services worker diploma will learn how to help clients overcome difficulties and learn how to be a trustworthy and reliable source of help and support.
Graduates of Community Service Worker Training Know to Listen First, Respond Second
Often when people are speaking we tend to think about how we are going to respond. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! We want to be able to say the right thing to offer support or give advice. However, in doing this, we’re not fully listening. We’re instead thinking about speaking and waiting for our opportunity to talk.
Professionals with community service worker training know to just listen first, meaning that they fully understand what the client is saying before they even think about responding.
Before responding, community service workers should make sure that they have all of the information needed so that they can say the right words of support, or offer the best advice possible.
Good listeners ask questions because they are genuinely curious and want to hear more. It is an effective way of showing that you’re fully focused on what is being said.
As a community service worker, you need to be careful that none of your questions could be perceived as judgemental, and instead give the client the opportunity to raise any additional thoughts or feelings. Questions may focus on the client’s feelings, or ask for more details about their experience, however small.
One communication strategy you can adopt is ‘reflective listening’. This is the practice of repeating back to the speaker what they’ve said to make sure that you’ve understood. This not only assures the client that you are fully seeking to understand them, but it also helps to avoid any instances of miscommunication and will give the client the opportunity to correct or elaborate on what they’re saying.
Do you want to train for community service worker careers?
Contact Canadian Business College to find out more!