Are we actively listening?
Our ability to promote change, may start by us asking a different set of questions, in order to help in the process of change.
How we communicate e.g language used, does matter, but do we consider limited vocabulary and the language used by those that we support? Do we consider their interpretation of who we are and what we represent to them? How does this impact on their engagement, and what could we be doing differently? As we know communication is a two way process.
So many barriers, fear, that create resistance to engagement and support.
Do we ask how we can communicate differently and explore language used by those we support?
I supported a family and one parent advised the other parent had ‘smashed up the tv’ the night before, apparently they were raging! So I asked to see the TV, it was in tact, I asked, ‘was that the tv’, ‘yes’ so I asked for an explanation to what exactly happened, ‘The TV was playing up and they took the back of to try and repair it’ I said ‘but you advised it was smashed up and they were raging’ they said ‘oh you know me, sometimes it’s the way I say things, I was annoyed the TV was taken apart and I couldn’t watch what I wanted to watch’.
That taught me so much about language and interpretation and the need to gain clarity, that we must not assume, we have to recognise that language used may not always reflect what actually happened.
Sometimes limited vocabulary and communication skills can be misinterpreted. It may have been a different outcome if I had returned and shared the language used with the manager, prior to looking at the TV and asking for further clarity.
When I studied Social Work, it took me years to integrate that language into my every day vocabulary, it was like a foreign language. Yet when we write reports, do we consider understanding, and take into account whose report it actually is and what purpose is it meant to serve?
In one authority I wrote a report using language that was child and family focused, and was pulled in and told that the reports are written for the professionals, not the family
Many parents still attend meetings not understanding the purpose, with their biggest fear of having their child removed. Most always make reference to how negative the reports are, and after explaining the purpose of why the concerns are shared in that format they are able to understand. So maybe we need to be asking how this process can be improved?
How about if we asked families what we could be doing differently? Ask ourselves why are families coming back, or still known several years on, with limited change, understanding of themselves, their family functioning and dynamics.
Is ‘good enough parenting’ really ‘good enough’ ?
What we know is, knowledge is power and promotes awareness and supports change, so how would it look if we started sharing what we know, and professional organisations websites/ resources to support families, and communicate differently.
Looking at ways to encourage and promote working in partnership with, requires us all to consider vocabulary, language and the ways in which we communicate and support learning.