Communication plays a key role in how we understand and speak to one another. It can influence our relationships, build trust, and create a system of support between the people that we rely on.
It can be difficult, however, to always practice good communication, especially in emotional or upsetting situations. Poor communication can complicate how someone perceives themselves and others, and lead to destructive attitudes both personally and within a relationship.
Community service workers (CSWs) rely on their communication skills to find successful solutions to a disagreement. There are certain approaches that make a peaceful solution more possible, and others which can potentially worsen or prolong the present conflict. If you’re interested in learning more about a career as a community service worker, here’s what you need to know about the right and wrong ways to approach conflict resolution.
1. CSWs Know to Address, Instead of Avoid Conflict
The main goal of conflict resolution is to encourage understanding between people that may have different ideas, opinions, and beliefs. In order to establish trust between the disagreeing parties, it’s important to emphasize an open, accepting atmosphere.
While the thought of avoiding an argument is appealing because it is less stressful, not addressing building frustrations can often make these frustrations worse over time. Bringing up issues in a respectful, but concise manner is the first step to successful communication and resolution.
2. Try Not to Use Overgeneralized or Absolute Language in Your CSW Career
Occasionally, people can use overgeneralized phrases when they’re upset and trying to express their feelings. This can include what’s known as absolute language, which uses words like ‘always’ and ‘never’, for instance: “You never listen to what I have to say,” or, “We always do what you want to do”.
This can make it difficult to address the problem at the heart of the conflict, but proper, comprehensive CSW training can prepare you with the strategies you need to address conflict in a way which encourages trust and open communication between all parties.
3. CSW Training Teaches Students to Listen More than They Talk
Successful communication isn’t only about what you say, it also includes how you say it, and how you respond to what the other person is sharing with you.
Dismissing or ignoring a problem that someone is trying to express is a common issue in conflict resolution. This may be because one or both parties believe they are superior or above the problem. A healthy way to address this behaviour is through the promotion of active listening, which acknowledges the disagreement and the concerns of those involved in the discussion.
4. Successful Conflict Resolution Means CSWs Don’t Play the Blame Game
A natural response to conflict is often to deflect blame from yourself and put it on another person. This can lead to criticizing others to weaken their credibility or shame other involved parties.
Professionals with community services worker training should instead try to promote objectively analyzing the problem, which considers the needs and perspectives of both parties in order to find a working solution to their dispute.
5. Community Service Workers Should Avoid Making Assumptions
When it comes to conflict resolution, it’s important to remember that there is rarely a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to view a situation, and a problem can be far more complicated than what it appears to be.
Sometimes people assume they know what others are thinking or feeling, but this is often influenced by their own perspective and interpretations, and leads to negativity and misunderstandings. CSWs should remember that everyone has a unique perspective and way of seeing the world, and try to encourage others to explain their actions or side of the story instead of making assumptions.
Are you interested in getting involved in a career that helps strengthen communities?
Contact NAHB for more information about our community services worker courses.