Social workers serve at the frontline of society to bring positive change. They interact with various stakeholders, including healthcare experts, communities, and decision-makers. Likewise, they facilitate, enhance, and strengthen interactions and partnerships between several stakeholders. Since their area of professional interaction is broad, they also strive for skill diversity to accommodate known and unpredictable circumstances.
Managing diverse responsibilities can be daunting. Therefore, mere professional knowledge is not enough to cater to the evolving career requirements. Only physically, mentally, and emotionally fit individuals can serve without crumbling to uncertainty, pressure, and complexity of social work. Hence, emotional intelligence is crucial to help social workers carry out professional responsibilities impartially. And it is an essential skill to succeed in a multifaceted social work career.
The following sections explore why emotional intelligence is essential for social workers.
- Achieve career goals and success
Emotions have a significant impact on your professional engagements and success. For instance, criticism at the workplace can readily trigger an uncalculated outburst response, while acknowledgment can expand your expectations and dependence. However, responses and engagement in the professional domain must follow protocols and guidelines rather than fall for unpleasant temporary triggers. Control over your emotions and impulsiveness is crucial to forming meaningful and healthy relationships with individuals, partners, collaborators, and society. And it’s a vital trait for social workers.
Besides, you have to agree with others to achieve professional objectives, even when their responses and personalities contradict your perceptions and expectations. Some situations may require you to maintain resistance regardless of pressure and challenges. In such cases, you have to utilize emotional intelligence to manage impulsive triggers meaningfully. That is why mastering emotional response is also part of social workers’ education. For instance, online MSW programs no GRE also foster candidates’ listening, patience, perseverance, critical thinking, and communication skills. These skills are crucial to succeed in a complex and multidisciplinary professional field.
- Reflect on personal conduct
Nobody can give their best all the time. Professional responsibilities and overwhelming circumstances can challenge your emotional stability. And emotional instability can impair your decision-making capability, making you prone to mishaps and errors. However, miscalculations or failures in social work can lead to severe repercussions for already vulnerable and helpless individuals.
Circumstances can overwhelm or destabilize anyone, but emotional instability cannot justify or equate to someone’s pain, discomfort, or loss. Thus, reflecting on personal conduct is one way to observe and rectify your course of action and utilize your emotional intelligence for greater welfare. You must learn to identify emotional triggers and manage your response. Otherwise, consequences can be more destructive if you serve in a decision-making position.
- Impartial judgment and decision-making
Social workers rely on behavioral and emotional cues to understand inherent issues in people’s lives. Sentimental triggers influence and guide their actions to bring change in people’s lives and communities. However, outcomes can be upsetting and disarraying for the change influencers and subjects if emotions override their decision-making capabilities. Therefore, social workers must think beyond emotional influence, pressure, and self-interest. They must follow work ethics and standard protocols to ensure impartial involvement, interference, and decision-making.
With emotional intelligence and training, they learn strategies to navigate interests, decisions, policies, and agreements toward positive social change. It helps them connect with people, partners, and decision-makers and supervise their actions and behaviors for the greater good. They do not give in to impulsive and emotional responses while overseeing professional responsibilities. However, honing emotional resilience does not mean they become indifferent and aloof to those in need.
- Improve empathy and understanding
Generally, social workers cater to vulnerable individuals residing in remote, underdeveloped, and marginalized communities. Helping the vulnerable comes under their professional aspirations and humanitarian obligations. However, observing people’s present situation cannot depict the background and root causes of problems. As a social change agent, you must see through their appearance and façade to understand their issues, circumstance, and concerns.
Empathizing with them is one way to examine their situation, challenges, and point of view. But putting yourself in someone’s position is not easy for everyone. It comes with practice, engagement, keen analysis, and trust-building. You must present yourself for someone’s assistance before you gain their confidence. It does not mean showing your vulnerabilities or personal inclinations rather than extending a helping hand. You have to over-attach and immerse yourself only to the point of professional requirements. But it is not possible without training and self-awareness. That’s where emotional intelligence helps individuals demarcate professional responsibilities and personal vulnerabilities.
- Maintain persistence and composure
Social work investigates social issues of varying scope, scale, and complexity. Sometimes, social workers strive for the equality of children, genders, races, working-class, communities, or overall humanity. Other times, they challenge the existing socioeconomic architecture for social inclusivity and coherence. The journey to perceive and highlight existing issues and influence transformation is not a day’s work. Strategic implementation of constructive policies is more challenging than envisioning positive change in the first place.
The journey can be more exhausting and daunting than thought-processing and envisioned schemes. Emotional intelligence helps social workers maintain persistence and self-composure. They learn to maneuver tempting triggers, frustration, and challenges before giving in to their psychological, physical, and emotional impulsiveness and instability. Emotional intelligence teaches them that positive social change requires sacrifices on an individual and communal basis. So, they must be ready for unanticipated and disheartening outcomes as well.
- Better relationship management
In the 21st century era, workplaces have evolved significantly. Missing or misinterpreting small communication or behavioral cues can lead to economic losses, disagreements, and contract breaches. The sustainability of business relationships is crucial for organizations to function and grow smoothly. Organizations invest thousands in hiring behavioral and communication specialists to supervise their business meetings and partnership agreements. The role of relationships is equally important in the social work domain.
Social work has a broad spectrum of influence as it caters to social and ecological changes in the affected areas, communities, and nations. It requires collaborations with multidisciplinary partners, including the healthcare sector, governments, local representatives, entrepreneurs, career groups, communities, and even individuals. Managing and overseeing these engagements is not possible without preparation and training. You have to ponder and design your responses before delivering. Influencing and decoding others’ responses is equally essential for healthy relationships. That’s where emotional intelligence plays its role. It facilitates, develops, governs, and fosters relationships.
Social workers’ professional journey is full of challenges, given their multidisciplinary and complex work. Hence, they learn to utilize and navigate internal and external influence for a greater good through emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence assists social workers in comprehending issues, interests, behaviors, expectations, and challenges to make informed and sound decisions. It is an intuitive practice that guides and simplifies their professional journey and social work.