Traits of a Successful Social Worker
- Excellent Oral and Written Communication Skills
- Ability to Handle Stress and Difficult Situations
- Thorough Understanding of Human Behavior
- Attentive at Organizing Information and Resources
- Practical Problem-solving Skills
Social workers need to have certain characteristics in order to be successful in these difficult and demanding jobs. In addition to enjoying working with people, a successful social worker should be willing to learn and able to persevere through stress. These are five of the top characteristics of successful social workers.
Excellent Oral and Written Communication Skills
Successful social workers have excellent oral and written communication skills. When meeting with colleagues, social workers should be able to discuss clients while maintaining confidentiality. They should know when and how to seek guidance and help from colleagues and supervisors. When meeting with clients, social workers should be able to speak in a way that is respectful yet authoritative. Social workers who speak a second or third language may find it easier to connect with and understand their clients.
Ability to Handle Stress and Difficult Situations
Social work is a stressful job. Even the most successful social worker will not be able to achieve everything they want to for their clients. There may be difficult situations in which there are not adequate resources to help a client with a problem. A social worker only has so much time to dedicate to a client. Some clients may refuse help or not comply with requests. The social worker should no take these problems personally. A successful social worker should have their own support system in place for healthy stress relief.
Thorough Understanding of Human Behavior
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, social workers must have a thorough understanding of human behavior. This understanding enables them to foster positive and productive relationships with their colleagues and their clients. Being a social worker means interacting with a wide range of personalities. Some clients may have self-destructive uncooperative personality traits, and colleagues may be competitive or argumentative. A key characteristic of a successful social worker is being able to interact with all of these personality types.
Attentive at Organizing Information and Resources
Social workers often have a large case load. They might have dozens or hundreds of clients to keep track of at the same time. A successful social worker needs to keep track of each client’s case file, keep it updated and ensure that all follow-up is completed by the appropriate person or agency. Social workers may also need to link their clients with private or community resources. For example, a mother and child who have escaped a domestic violence situation to a women’s shelter may need to be linked to housing assistance, utility assistance, material goods and clothing, food stamps and school resources.
Practical Problem-solving Skills
Social workers have clients with a variety of problems. Some clients may have difficulty with transportation to get to and from the social worker’s office and the other places they may need to go, such as the health clinic, doctor’s office or grocery store. Clients may have trouble maintaining a clean household. Others may need help with sobriety. A successful social worker is able to solve some of these common problems with creativity. These problems often need a quick yet effective solution. For example, a social worker might arrange for a 30-day bus pass or a sobriety check-in partner for the client.
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These are just five of the top characteristics of a successful social worker. There are more characteristics that will be beneficial, including the ability to participate in continuing education, a talent for working with people who have unhelpful attitudes and an ability to prioritize important tasks. Anyone who has these top five characteristics of a successful social worker should find many personal and professional rewards in their work.