They say that any form of work that is startling to a higher degree must have an element of alleviation in it and to me; the best element of alleviation is how much an individual excels in helping others. This idea of appeasement by elevating those in need was put to test while I was working for a non-profit organization. The aim of the organization is to support, identify issues and respond to practical needs of the asylum seekers and refugees to legal advice, social workers, counselors, and other local support networks. With its aim for supporting others by enabling them to find solutions for a good life in the UK, the organization was the perfect match for my aspirations, ambitions, acquired capabilities and much-needed anticipation for helping others. I was responsible for advocating for children and women who needed information regarding their status and escorted women and children to hospitals for appointment or registration. My duties also involved liaising with other organizations on behalf of my clients and it often involved the use of good negotiation tactics.
Moreover, I was in charge of meeting with their social worker and negotiated the best possible outcome on behalf of my client. While liaising with a charity organization for providing much-needed help to the asylum seeking work and children, I handled a case which inspired me to further develop my career in social work. A mother of newborn twins, suffering from severe issues with back pain due to childbirth, was refused accommodation. The reason stated by the other organization was the lack of availability of lift within the residential building to accommodate the medical issues pertaining to my client. The case needed to be dealt with supreme care and top-notch negotiation skills which I needed to apply in order to help the mother in need. Thus I prepared my argument with facts supported by medical documents and although the mother was sent back to a temporary facility, she received proper care and suitable accommodation within a few weeks. This incident helped me regain confidence within my ability to reason with other individuals. Not only was I able to communicate the issue of my client with the social worker in charge of the accommodation, but I also gained insight into problem analysis and decision-making ability. The decision to collaborate with the facility that was willing to accommodate my client for a temporary basis and to control my emotions while analyzing the issue at hand strengthened my emotional intelligence. I have been in the habit of working well in teams but this was the first time I adapted to the situation and worked my way around the issue by using communication and problem-solving techniques as the key (Dostál, 2015). I used negotiation skills and my chances of success in the negotiation were to be due to the integrative negotiation techniques that I used during the negotiations. These strategies ensured the high chances of success because the statements were cooperative and complemented both the parties’ statements.
Reflecting back to that incident I feel jubilant that I was able to help the mother of two and it an intrinsic value too noble for words. All I can say is that I would like to submerge in coming to aid of those who require my assistance and if I am able to make this my career then I would be most opportune. I believe that to handle such sensitive cases one needs to first develop empathy and be in the shoes of the client. This is specifically important for a social worker because one has to help those in need which is why understanding the problem according to their perspective is important. This importance of development of empathy in a social worker is important as Lazo states that empathy is important for positive outcomes in social work (Lazo, 2014). I developed the ability to empathize with others more and to understand their position.
I applied negotiation skills with medical documents to support my argument, she was sent back to a temporary residence but a few weeks later she was provided more suitable accommodation. I tried to convince them that we have the legitimate right to our favorable outcome in case of the incidence when the mother was not being allocated a suitable accommodation. Zohar states that negotiation skills should be accompanied by an understanding that negotiation happens to be about the rules of diplomacy and how much one can deliver his or her view to the other party while convincing them (Zohar, 2005).
During my work experience, I was fortunate enough to learn and experience different aspects of problem-solving techniques. My duties involve dealing with people on a daily basis and solving issues that they might be facing. The incident in which my client was refused accommodation involved use of good communication and problem-solving skills. Joy claims that problem-solving skills are a must have set of soft skills which are needed not just in work life but also for the well-being of personal life (Joy, 2012). I always wanted to incorporate good problem-solving skills within me and my work experience enabled me to develop this essential skill. This soft skill helped me in analyzing the information at hand, using the information to make a sound decision and argument and then adapting to the proposition and compromise achieved by both parties. My responsibilities also ranged from assisting to liaising with other charity organizations and in some scenarios I had to adapt to the surroundings of the charity organization in order to get a better perspective of the norms of the workplace. The skills that I gained during my work experiences such as problem-solving skills and adaptability will aid me in my career as many recruiters today want the applicants to demonstrate a diverse set of skills. Recruiters require that the individual must be adaptable to different circumstances and environments and should be able to take on broad concepts as well as ideas. The confidence that I gained by negotiating with different organizations and dealing with new individuals every day is a boost for my personal growth. Neha states that recruiters aim at recruiting individuals who have enough personal confidence to respond positively to changing circumstances as well as to new ways of working (Neha, 2013). The skill of problem solving and adaptability will enable me to respond to changes within my future workplace well and has prepared me to rise to any challenge in the future. It is also imperative to consider the aspects of adaptability such as modification of behavior, intellectual flexibility, receptiveness and creativity which I gained during my work experience. I developed intellectual flexibility as I had to keep an open mind towards the thoughts and opinions of my clients. Most of the time the mothers used to be overwhelmed and sometimes got carried away because of which other volunteers would have issues in dealing with their clients. I made sure that I had the patience and demonstrated enough flexibility to integrate the demands of my clients with the charity organizations that were responsible for their accommodations.
Seeing the big picture in trivial circumstances enables an individual to grasp the image of the greater good. My work as a volunteer expanded my horizon and made me realize about the importance of the necessities in life which most people take for granted. Thus if I was to say that my work transformed me and made me thankful for the accommodations, the opportunities and the people I have in my life, then it would not be an exaggeration.
This sense of pride should not be mistaken with arrogance nor should it be placed near overconfidence. This recognition of inner satisfaction and pride was my proof that uttered how much I really wanted to become a social worker and what my priorities were. So after a few days of working at the organization, I received the most challenging case of a mother of newborn twins, suffering from severe issues with back pain due to childbirth, was refused accommodation. This case aided me in becoming more receptive towards the needs of others and developed within me creativity. By creativity, I mean that I was creative in coming up with different solutions to the issues and sought new ways to achieve the objectives and targets for the day. Communication problems tend to occur during volunteer work specifically when working with non-English speakers and these communication issues can be caused because of some misunderstanding or a personal miscommunication as well as communication gap. These communication problems often result in various accusations as well as hostility (Anieke, 2008). This is why it is necessary to understand and recognize the situations which might cause communication problems within the workplace.
Some of the communication issues that often arise between clients and volunteer workers include poor listening skills, using ineffective communication techniques, interpreting problems in the wrong way and lack of perspective. Some of the communication problems can lead to unresolved conflict which is why it is necessary for one to not waste productivity, money and time on such issues and to resolve them as soon as possible.
Kartal points out that when a wrong communication style is used, barriers in communication tend to appear which ensures that the individual who is in the wrong has failed to express his or her thoughts properly (Kartal, 2016). Moreover, a lack of perspective on how individuals might receive or conceive the message on a certain complex issue can often lead to severe difficulties. This is why it is necessary to identify the communication problem beforehand and to handle the problem before it becomes a serious issue. Haddon states that it is important to use the right technique to reduce any misconceptions which might arise due to communication problems such as low morale, distrust, culture clashes (Haddon, 2006). In the incident in which the mother was refused accommodation, there persisted a strong communication issue by both the parties. This is because the organization responsible for accommodation was not aware of the situation clearly and misconstrued the case as being a regular case which was a misunderstanding on their part since the mother had certain medical issues she has with her back due to the pregnancy. Thus after removing this communication barrier and applying the appropriate negotiating skills, I was able to handle the situation. This incident made me realize that when a wrong communication style is used, barriers in communication tend to appear. Moreover, a lack of perspective on how individuals might receive or conceive the message on a certain complex issue can often lead to severe difficulties.
Jenifer is of the view that most of the time, communication problem at the workplace or during business activities and transactions occur due to language barriers (Jenifer, 2015). These language barriers are created due to a diverse workplace environment or due to globalization (Harzing, 2007). In case of my work experience, I had to work with clients that did not speak English as their first language which meant that my communication skills had to be sharpened because I was in charge of aiding them as well as assisting them to their appointments. Furthermore, I also realized that time management is also critical to managing volunteer work because there are many cases which are assigned and one has to complete those cases within a short period of time. I had to budget my time according to each case. In the beginning, I had some issue in managing all the duties together but gradually I developed the skill of fulfilling all my duties within the allotted time.
Some schools of thought that being a good leader means knowing how to get a task done by the subordinates in any way possible and that the ends justify means. This peculiar thought further states that a leader’s ability to lead depends on how much power and control he/she has over the subordinates. It is mainly because of these traditional approaches towards leadership that a more end driven attitude is incorporated (Zohar, 2005). The work experience that I gained as a volunteer enabled me to incorporate leadership skills as I had to lead my clients, understand their problems, help them in communicating their issues and synchronize with them the solution to their problems. One of my duties was to help and support other organizations to organize events for mother and children in order to aid them in the new country. In these situations I had to often work with other individuals and organizing an event requires leading teams. Thus I researched, developed and applied the necessary leadership skills which enabled me to organize the events.
Working in a non-profit organization enabled me to practice my negotiating as well as communication skills and made me adept in handling unforeseen circumstances. The cases which were allotted to me helped me in understanding the trials and tribulations which the struggling mothers had been through and this not only encouraged me to help them to the best of my abilities but enabled me to channelize my ambition into a greater good.
To add up further, the skills that I acquired during my work experience in the non-profit organization are in a perfect line with becoming a social worker in the future. These skills include problem-solving skills, behavior management skills, negotiation skills and the ability to empathize and understand others for helping them. My work experience taught me that being adaptable is the key to restructuring one’s life and career. I believe that the skill of being resilient and adaptable in different situations and circumstances has been developed within me during the time I spent working as a social worker. I believe that my reason for work placement has been achieved during the time I spent working at the organization because I experienced challenging circumstances which I had not encountered before, developed skills to manage those challenged. Moreover, I developed an understanding of the changing demands of my clients and other charity organizations. These skills will help me in my career as the skills that I gained during my work experiences such as problem-solving skills and adaptability will aid me in my career because many recruiters today want the applicants to demonstrate a diverse set of skills.
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