The world has transformed and improved over the centuries. We have observed immense improvements and advancements. People are earning well, the standard of lifestyle has raised, education systems are improving, and medical facilities are getting better. But all such significant transformations are limited to certain territories or a particular class of people. Ideally, everyone in this world should have equal resources and equal improvements, but that is not the case in reality.
Many people are not getting enough resources to live better and achieve sustainable lives. We live in a world where there are concepts of “first-world countries” and “third-world countries.” There are countries where people are not getting enough food and medical facilities to survive. Dictators cruelly rule some of the countries, and there are many countries where no proper education system exists, so people do not have any exposure to the real world. However, there are many reasons for such disparities in the world, and some loss can be reverted by the people who are well-educated, well-fed, and well-exposed. It becomes their responsibility to come forward, support, and help those who need a helping hand. Therefore, social work is the prime virtue of giving back to society.
Looking at the magnitude of the challenges in the world, social work cannot solve or minimize the impact by putting efforts as a side project or hobby or a mere act of kindness. These need to be treated or considered as a comprehensive formal job or work and requires one to be educated and trained for it. On the surface, social work is a noble cause, and social workers try to be helpful with their intent and passion for elevating those who are suffering, but in execution, it requires more than that. There are numerous challenges that social workers face regularly. There are issues like access to poverty areas, the behavior of the communities, client preferences, pressures of opposition groups, and the barriers to cultural competence in social work that hinders the progress and prosperity expected from social workers.
One of the main characteristics of social work is to deal with diversity. Social work involves meeting people, understanding their problems, and seeking solutions to such issues. Everyone wants to be heard, and social workers need to be skilled enough to interact with them by taking into consideration their background, economic status, beliefs, and values. Similarly, they also need to understand the donor or client’s perspective, amalgamate all to find a win-win solution. Cultural context and competence is the main requirement while dealing with diversity in society. Social workers cannot work with pre-existing bias and prejudice. They need to empathize with people and look to matters with the eyes of affected people to gain perspective and their confidence.
Let’s explore some of the tips that can help in dealing with diversity in a better way:
- Get to Know the End User:
Instead of rushing directly into the meetings, planning, and execution, it is essential to get to know the beneficiary for whom you are working hard. Any matter which might seem trivial or immaterial to the social worker can be a make or break for the affected party. Therefore, to gain perspective and understanding of the end-user, spend some time with them, listen to their stories and sufferings, talk to them. In this way, a social worker can also gain the knowledge and understanding of ground realities and unsaid matters of the locality.
Self-Awareness is one of the chief virtues of emotional intelligence. To deal with a different set of people and to understand their perspectives, a social worker must be already aware of his perspectives, beliefs, prejudices, and biases. It sounds easy but quite challenging to exercise as usually our own biases get into the way of progress. For example, if a person is unaware of his biases against a sect of people (whether that bias was built subconsciously in the past or due to some incident), his actions will not favor those sects of people. Therefore, it is crucial to be aware of such feelings and act consciously.
3. Power of Communication:
The majority of the battle is either won or lost in this domain. Poor and affected people of society need value, respect, and honor from the social workers at first. Affirmed, respectful, and transparent communication is a simple yet not easy strategy to deal with people from different backgrounds. Your language will set your impression and their expectations. Similarly, no matter how passionately you work for them, if you have a scratchy tongue, it might set them into further demotivation and hesitation.
4. A Constant Learner:
To build deep and meaningful relationships with the community to serve them better, one needs to establish in his mind that the end-user is the expert of the experience. You know extremely limited, or nothing about it, and you need to be a constant learner to understand them better to deal with it effectively.
Social work rewards a worker intrinsically by providing them internal gratitude and satisfaction. But as we discussed, it is essential not to count upon emotion only to work better, and to get trained in technical aspects to get better results for the society.