Community service workers (CSWs) play an important role in communities across Canada. CSWs improve the lives of others by providing support services to vulnerable individuals and families. Students looking for a challenging, rewarding, and impactful career will find becoming a CSW a great option.
After CSW training you will be qualified to work for many different organizations. For example, after graduation you may find yourself working at a group home as an addictions worker or at a correctional facility as a life skills coach. No matter the specific role, the nature of the work completed by CSWs requires sensitivity and highly effective communication skills. Having these skills can help you advance in your career and connect with the public more effectively.
Read on to discover three tips for effective communication in the workplace as a CSW.
1. Students in Community Services Worker College Should Be Clear and Concise
While working as a CSW you will communicate constantly throughout your day not only with clients, but also with coworkers, management, and other organizations. In any career it’s important to present yourself as a qualified professional. You can do just that by demonstrating proper business communication skills.
During your training you will take CSW courses that teach the basics of business communication. Business communication can include emails, memos, phone calls, presentations, and more. One important component of good business communication is being concise and to the point. Whether you are communicating within an organization or externally, it’s important to say everything as simply as possible.
Keep your sentences short to make it easier for readers to quickly scan your communication. In business writing, shorter writing is better. A great tip for making sure your message is concise and clear is to identify the purpose of the communication. Does what you wrote fulfill that purpose? Is it free of any other information that could be distracting? If it is, that means it’s effective. Practice asking yourself these questions to make sure that your communications stay on topic, both during your studies and once you begin your career.
2. Students in CSW Courses Should Adjust Their Communication Style to Each Audience
Knowing who you’re speaking to should guide the communication style you use. For example, once you become a community services worker you may find you communicate differently with a young child who has suffered abuse than you would with a troubled teenager. By changing your communication style you can connect with your audience more effectively.
Are you speaking with a company to try to get donations? Perhaps you should adopt a more professional tone. Are you writing to volunteers? Try communicating in an excited and passionate voice. By changing your style and tone, you’ll help make sure that you’re on the same page as your audience.
CSWs should alter their communication style depending on who they are speaking to
3. Students in CSW Courses Should Place Emphasis on Their Listening Skills
Practicing excellent listening skills is paramount when it comes to business communication. Understandably, it’s easy to fall into the habit of non-active listening when you have many things on your mind. However, in order to foster great relationships with coworkers, other organizations, and your clients, active and attentive listening is necessary.
Some simple methods you can put into practice to help you become a better listener are hiding distractions, like your cell phone or other documents, out of sight while listening. In addition, keeping eye contact during a conversation can improve your active listening skills.
By implementing these skills during your studies and future career you can excel as a CSW and communicator!
During your community services worker (CSW) program, you’ll receive the practical and hands-on knowledge you need to succeed in the field. Your CSW courses will teach you all about crisis intervention, addictions and mental health, case management and much more. However, a very important part of your role as a counsellor will include interviewing clients in order to gather information and establish relationships with them. That’s why you’ll also learn about some of the most effective interview techniques.
Counselling professionals know that an ‘interview’ refers to a meeting or session with a client. And a few interview techniques include how a counsellor carries themselves, asks questions, and guides discussions.
If you’re planning to become a CSW, read on for a closer look at five useful interview techniques you’ll learn in your training.
1. CSW Training Will Teach You to Use Open-Ended Questions
In order to build a rapport with your clients, you’ll need to ask a lot of questions. However, during your CSW training, you’ll learn that how you ask a question can determine the depth of a client’s answer. While closed-ended questions like “did you have a good week?” typically evoke simple yes or no answers, open-ended questions will encourage clients to reflect and provide longer responses as well as more information. For instance, you might instead say “tell me about your week”—this will elicit a far more meaningful response than discovering whether or not their week was good.
2. Probing Questions Will Help You Delve Deeper with Clients
Once you begin interviewing clients, you’ll find that the use of probing questions is helpful in situations where you want to encourage them to dig a little deeper and share more information. A probing question can help clients look closely at a particular situation, feeling or behaviour, which is a helpful part of creating positive change. A classic example of a probing question is “how did that make you feel?” Other examples include “could you tell me more about that particular situation?” and “what do you mean by that?”
3. You’ll Learn Active Listening Skills in Your CSW Courses
One of the most effective interview techniques you’ll learn in your CSW courses is active listening. Active listening refers to listening and responding to your clients in a way that builds mutual understanding. Your body language, for example, reflects the amount of attention you’re giving when a client is speaking. It’s important to remain in a relaxed position and to be conscious of your facial expressions at all times.
For example, if a client is sharing a very emotional experience and you’re staring at them with wide eyes, they might feel judged. On the other hand, nodding at appropriate times is a non-verbal cue that will show them you’re paying attention and encourage them to continue.
4. CSW Training Will Teach You to Rephrase and Use Verbal Cues
Verbalization also plays a key role in counselling. During your training, you’ll learn to maintain a calm voice and give small verbal cues, such as saying ‘yes’ when a client is explaining something. Trained experts know that this can help encourage them to share more.
Rephrasing is also a great way to ensure your client feels heard and to get a better understanding of what they are saying. When a client is finished sharing, try summarizing what they said to make sure you’re on the same page.
5. You’ll Master the Art of Successfully Ending an Interview
Clients rarely check the time during sessions, so there’s a chance that they could be in the midst of sharing when an interview has reached its end. It’s important to remember that no one likes being interrupted, especially when discussing something emotional. That’s why you’ll need to find ways to end your interviews very carefully once you start your career.
One way you can accomplish this is to tell your clients how much time is left in an interview approximately 5 to 10 minutes before it ends. This way, the remainder of the interview can be used to review what has been discussed, set goals for the coming week, or to ask clients if they have anything else they’d like to discuss.