Write an essay on Communication Skills?
The term communication is one of the widest topics that could be discussed. Communication can be personal, private and public; it could happen between two people and among a group of persons. In order to make a communication to be effective the people involved in the communication procedure must be committed and responsive. They must possess skill which will be utilized to frame a message that could be utilized to make the communication effective and derive proper response. The interview of Lucy from the movie “Unloved” by Samantha Morton can be taken as a study for the communication skill needed while communicating with children (Barker, 2010).
The interview is quite relevant to the concept of communication skills needed for speaking with children as it shows exactly what must not be done (Rcpsych.ac.uk, 2015). The film from which the interview is taken rotates around Lucy and provides insight into the social care system through the eyes of a child. It is shown in the movie that how alienated she felt in the Care home as there was lack of proper communication between the social workers and her. It is seen that they failed to connect with the children and provide proper guidance and council in a manner that would not only reconcile them but also make them feel light and comfortable (Birkinshaw, 2006).
As seen in the clip that Lucy is a very quiet eleven year old girl, who is tormented due to her horrid past of irresponsible parents and is thus gloomy and alone. As seen from studies and most cases that children are most harrowed and affected because of negligence, torture and abuse (Daud, Skoglund and Rydelius, 2005). It is needed that these children should be taken under the care of a system that would not only provide shed and protection but an environment where the child will be able to express and live freely. Thus the ability to express ones feeling and responding will be only achieved when the communicator possesses skills to create an intangible warm, free environment among them.
The first shot of the clip shows Lucy sitting in a car with Vicky a female care worker. They are shown discussing a range of topics. Lucy asks Vicky if she believes in God. Vicky says that she was taught about multiple religions and although sometimes it is hard to believe yet she believes in Gods like Lord Krishna from the Hindu mythology. Lucy asks her about Christianity and Jesus and Vicky replies with a smile that Jesus is great. They enter a shopping mall to buy clothes for Lucy as she is shown wearing only her school uniform. Lucy continues to ask Vicky personal questions and Vicky replies amicably. Lucy is shown in a light and happy mood as Vicky helps her buy new shoes and clothes. Lucy even goes on to describe her choices as she feels comfortable and happy around Vicky.
After they return to the care home, Lucy’s social worker Jackie meet her. This was a very polite, restricted and alienating experience for her (Roberts and Greene, 2002). The conversation revolved around paperwork. Both of them were sitting at a distance and Lucy is seen fidgeting with her shopping bags as she is completely uncomfortable. While the woman goes through the paperwork Lucy stares at her and the surroundings taking in everything. The Social worker checks Lucy’s school papers and doesn’t say much other than ‘good’. She asks Lucy few formal questions and why she left the home earlier. To this Lucy only shrugs and does not reply properly. The woman looks busy and does not share much eye contact with Lucy. Whenever she asks Lucy something, Lucy speaks with her eyes down. The social worker tells her that she took a while in visiting her as the Patrimony was not provided and now that it is provided she will continue to visit Lucy. She also asked Lucy to call her up if she needed her. There was no warmth in the communication and all seemed really formal and as a result Lucy did not seem interested. Lucy asked her whether she could go back and stay with her Mom or Dad. For this the woman said that they must be consulted for this. Later in her room Lucy is seen happy as fiddles with her new clothes.
It was thus evident from the clip that the two conversations between Lucy and Vicky and Lucy and her Social Worker Jackie were entirely different in manner and yielded different results (Reece, 2008). Lucy established a bonding with Care worker Vicky by sharing views with her and speaking on topics that were not related to the torture or pain she experienced. While with Jackie the conversation did not yield anything. Jackie failed to get any insight of Lucy’s mental condition. Jackie’s behavior and body language was strictly formal and she took a businesslike approach in the situation. Her questions were directly asking about Lucy’s track records and how she ended up here. Jackie did not try to establish any kind of connection which could have been better for the interview. An interview of such manner is totally futile and pointless and disappointing for both the communicators as well.
This interview is hence discussed to understand the factors that must be kept in mind when communicating with Children. One of the main criteria of social care workers are to establish connection and communication with their clients and thus they need the best kind of communication skills which will not only provide comfort and scope for the client to speak but also provide the social worker ample opportunities to learn the situation, listen to the issues and offer proper and worthy solutions to the client’s troubles. The following discussion will point out the skills that are required for establishing such a healthy relationship with the clients and how this could utilized in deriving solutions to the issue. The interview of Lucy with her Social and Care workers is taken as reference to point out the pros and cons of the whole action related to communicating with children in terms of social work and social care program.
The concept of social work is covered with responsibility (Deliege, 2002). When it comes to counseling and providing support to children, the responsibility becomes double. The social workers need to understand, reciprocate and empathize with the situation the child is in. It is also the concern of the social worker to communicate with the parents and guardians of the children to understand the surrounding in which the child is brought up. This will provide as an added advantage in providing the solution to the problems. Also in this way the Social worker can provide solution to parental anxiety (Dogra, 2002).
All this processes needs some particular skills which should be present in the Social worker. Every day a social worker needs to gain some insight from the clients and then convey information to them. The first skill that a Social worker must possess is the quality of listening carefully (Aviram, 2002). They must be able to listen properly and pay complete attention to what the child is saying. This also means to maintain eye contact so that little gestures and reactions could be perceived as something meaningful. The Social worker must not interrupt or roll eyes, multitask, doodle or yawn when the child is speaking it implies disinterest in speaking. This was exactly one of the things which were wrong with the interview between Lucy and Social worker Jackie. Jackie spoke to Lucy while going through the paperwork’s and not keeping eye contact with her. Vicky was able to connect and make Lucy talk to her as she totally responded to Lucy’s queries while maintaining eye contact and smiling occasionally. Vicky kept looking at Lucy paying her complete attention.
The second skills that must be honed by the social workers are to gain exclusive, important and relevant information. A social worker therefore must be able to ask the right question in the right way. Jackie continues to ask Lucy why Lucy was absconded and whether her Mother has contacted her. To this queries Lucy gives very short replies. It is clear that she is not comfortable enough to answer truthfully of what happened or what she feels and thinks. Also Jackie seemed not interested in getting further information as she did not use any amicable persuasion methods to gather further insight to Lucy’s mind and condition. It is one of the tactics used by Social workers to get involved in role playing and word association to derive information. From Jackie’s attitude it was total business for her whereas Vicky very carefully through her words gathered little insights into the likes and dislikes that Lucy harbors.
The third criteria are applying of nonverbal behavioral skills. The primary task of maintaining eye contact is already discussed. The other gestures and body language that should be applied are, handshakes, smiles, and a tap on the shoulder or a caressing gesture. This spreads warmth and the child feels secure and comfortable while speaking and takes the process seriously. Other actions could be sitting closer as physical distance often alienates the people from each other and the communication is not productive. Jackie and Lucy were sitting at a distance and Lucy’s physical posture and body language showed that she felt uncomfortable. Lucy and Vicky were sitting in close affinity in the car and Vicky maintained physical contact to make Lucy feel at home.
Building trust is one of the primary tasks that have to be implemented to ensure effective communication. Any kind of communication will be successful when the partners in the conversation have equal trust and faith on each other. The social worker must establish the idea in the mind of the client that he or she has the best interest for the client. Even if the social worker does not agree with the client it is essential that the clients view is given first priority and importance. This way the client will feel secure and confident of the whole communication and will discuss the issues tormenting them. In context to the interview scene, Jackie did not indulge in any kind of activity that will help Lucy build trust on her. Jackie tells her that she did not come earlier as she was not provided the patrimony. Now that it is provided she will continue to visit her and if any problem arises, Lucy should call her right away. This word does not provide any assurance to Lucy as she fails to gain any positive vibe from Jackie. Lucy does not reply and Jackie continues with her paperwork without paying much attention to her. The whole conversation hence was very formal and short and did not help in connecting the communicators (Statham, 2004).
The trust that is needed was actually formed between Lucy and Care worker Vicky. Lucy had faith on her and thus agreed to go shopping with her (Waller, 2006). She was very happy with the clothes and responded to Vicky’s queries. They had complete and effective conversation and got much idea about each other. There was nothing restrictive and Vicky got much insight into Lucy’s mind and thought process. Building of trust also means that the client will readily accept the solution and would be convinced of its success. Jackie failed to convince Lucy and thus did not improve her situation. When she returned to her room, Lucy was more delighted with her new clothes which she and Vicky bought together (Juhásová, 2015).
The final aspect of the communication skill is avoiding of conflict. The Social worker should try to diffuse the conflict and completely avoid threatening or judging the client and refrain from raising their voices. Their tones should not be accusing or judgmental and try to be a mediator for issues. Jackie was quite judgmental of Lucy being absconded yet she did not push Lucy into saying why she fled. Vicky was there to support and comfort Lucy when she returned thus providing her scope to explain herself (NICHOLLS, 2000).
The role of a social worker is similar to a counselor but as a social worker one needs to do more. As a social worker one should do more for a client (Howe, n.d.). A social worker has to take the initiative himself. A social worker has to call up helping agents to solve issues and cannot just seat by providing a phone number. As a social worker for children the idea is to safeguard the children and make the authorities or parents realize the need for care. They have to build a rapport and must not show shocking or loud expressions to reconcile the students. A social worker should be able to maintain confidentiality and try to understand and empathize with the situation the child is in. From the interview scene it is gathered that, although Jackie is quite professional in her demeanor, she does not use her communicative skills to fullest to derive further information which is required in order to understand Lucy’s condition (Schraer, 2014).
The social worker did not ask Lucy how she is in the Care home in the first place and what her wishes are (Krebs and Pitcoff, 2006). Instead she mentions the procedure that Lucy must follow to meet or live with her parents. The social worker did not ask Lucy anything which will make her feel comfortable. All the queries were strictly professional and nothing to do with Lucy sharing her worries. As a result she seemed disinterested in the whole process of the interview. She behaved like she was chided and was nervous and she continued fidgeting with her fingers (Drasgow, 2009).
Many experts of the Social work theory carry the value that there is need of self disclosure when trying to communicate effectively (Great Valley Publishing Company, 2015). It is very important when communicating with minors that the social worker should also divulge some personal information to them. This is exactly what Vicky did when she took Lucy for shopping. Vicky told Lucy about her religious beliefs and about having a boyfriend. Children like getting to know others before trusting them and hence Vicky easily established a connection and trust with Lucy. Thus although an ethical boundary must be maintained, it is necessary that the social worker converse with the minors in a normal manner and not use their businesslike attitude.
The role of Social worker is not providing mental therapy, but they must bend to a certain level when communicating with the minors (Brain and Mukherji, 2005). Therapies are meant to improve the situations and mental health by taking the people in a different environment but the role of social worker is to contact the relevant people and the relevant agencies in order to provide a solution which would help the people to come out of the situation. The social workers job is thus formal, but when one considers the minors, they have a different mind then the adults. They are volatile and must be handled with care. Issues sometimes leave children with deep scar and they are reluctant in sharing crucial information. The social workers need this information as it is vital for their work. This is the reason for which the social workers should indulge in minimal exchange of personal information so that the children feel important and comfortable sharing their own personal details on the issues (Green and Nieman, 2014).
Thus as seen from the clip the concept of social work and social care is very serious and requires patience and proper temperament to provide solution to make a life better (Butler and Roberts, 2004). Two aspects of the Social care are shown in the clip, one is a conversation between the child and the Care worker in an informal environment and another is between the child and her social worker in a very formal environment. Both the conversations included only two persons and were face to face, yet it yielded two completely different results. The interview in question did not yield any positive answer from the child and she was distracted and not interested in the process at all. She was much happier when driving with the care worker and shopping and even shared her choice of clothes and hair color which help in establishing a connection and interest in the communication.
For an apprentice the interview could be very educative in learning what they should or should not do when conversing with the child in question. A Child’s mind is wide and full of ideas it must be nurtured and understood with care while dealing with a serious situation. A social worker must not be all professional like when dealing with children and the mode of communication has to be different and less formal. Environment also plays a major role. An open space with air and light and colorful surroundings also relaxes the mind and the body and thus the Social worker in the video should have chosen a different environment for the interview (Close, 2011).
The social worker tries to cover all the points and ask relevant questions to Lucy. She also goes through the paperwork with much care, but she missed out on some major points that should be taken care of. Her communication skills were not appropriate in conversing with a tormented eleven year old girl (Greene and Burleson, 2003). Although Jackie tried to empathize with Lucy, yet her lack in warmth, eye contact and trust building activity failed in interesting the girl and thus the whole point of the interview almost came to a naught. The tactics applied by Vicky was much more fruitful in making Lucy talk.
The positive outcome of the interview was that Lucy was assured that the decision of her staying with her Mother would involve both Vicky and Jackie. This made her hopeful. Hence it is seen that communication skill is one of the most crucial factors when considering social work and care concerning families and especially children. The video was an insight into the do’s and don’ts of the communication process for a social worker and thus must be applied by the future workers in the social work scenario (Howe, 2008). As any communication is important this critique only highlights how even a small conversation between a child and a social worker is important and requires skill. Thus the little intricacies must be always looked at.
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