We meet and come across different people at our workplace and in our community. These different people have a unique lifestyle with a touch of their customs, traditions, and beliefs—each with various moral and ethical boundaries. Every country has immigrants, they can be from any state of your country, or they can be from another country. The United States of America is home to approximately forty million immigrants. These immigrant communities might be different in their ways of living, but they all follow the same state rules and policies. In a country where there were so many barriers of language, customs, work-life, social workers help these communities to get along and adjust with their surroundings.
When we are living in a community, we are not only responsible for sustaining peace and harmony, but we also share the responsibility of solving problems whenever needed. We all have seen different centers inside our community set up for our facilitation.
Social workers have always been an integral part of any society. They are still on their toes to make the community better. From helping children and elders to counseling youngsters, a social worker has to do a lot. They have to interact with people of different ages and backgrounds. Hence, cultural competence in social work matters a lot. If you have only been dealing with a specific culture, you cannot apply the same norms on another. What might be considered right in one culture can prove to be offensive according to others? If you are a social worker and are facing difficulties to work across cultures, here are a few suggestions to help you cope up.
Listening plays an important role; if you want to know the problems of others, you will have to listen and understand what they have to say. We cannot come up with a solution without realizing the problem. Even if you are working across culture, paying attention to what they are saying will help you understand, if not entirely, then at least half of it. Listening without thinking ahead, and asking the speaker if you have got it right, will facilitate your communication.
Everybody looks for similarity so they can find a comfort level to initiate conversation or feel at ease. Remember, that culture will never be the same, nor will it have the same norms. Accepting and understanding the differences will help you to take hold of your tasks in a better way. Every country has different values; you will even find a difference in one region to another. The difference occurs due to people living there. We all have our odds, and we are okay with it. Once you have identified the differences across cultures, it will strengthen your work performance and will have a positive impact on others as well.
Since we are dealing with different norms, this entails the possibility of words with different meanings for different people. Staying clear or away from ambiguity can enhance the effectiveness of your work. You can avoid doubts by learning at least one fact about every member’s culture. Be aware of their traditions and festivals. Learn from someone who can explain their basic norms to you.
Communication is the key to getting things done, but if you do not know how to communicate, it may result in heated situations. For effective communication, a social worker must understand and respond in a well-thought manner to avoid any frustration. Respond by using appropriate words, in case of a disagreement, an email for clarification can help. If you have to deliver feedback, try to keep it as balanced as possible. If you are working with a family and you have to provide them the drawbacks, never introduce them as flaws, instead use it as concerns.
Conflict arises due to difference of opinions, or misunderstandings. Instead of delaying the issue, it is wise to address it immediately. Having explicit norms and working terms will make it easy for every member of your team to coordinate with each other. Try to find common ground where both the members can agree on one mutual decision.
Have a diverse team:
If you are in the field of social work, and you think that your current team members are facing a lot of troubles. You can always open your doors for members of a different culture to assist you in helping the society and its members. A diverse team will not only reduce your workload by dealing in the area of their expertise, but it will also help you to build more connections.
Culture is an umbrella that entails thousands of aspects of diversity. We cannot understand each element thoroughly, but learning about basics can help us to move swiftly and effectively not only in our work field but at personal levels as well. A keen listening and patient communication can do wonders.