Top Secrets of Top Social Workers

Wellthy has been working closely with Social Workers from around the country on building our business. Over that time, we’ve seen a range of skills, styles, and success with the social workers whom we’ve gotten to know. Here are our telltale signs that a social worker rocks.

1. Empathy

The best Social Workers have this unbelievable ability to make you feel like they really get you. They make you feel heard and understood. This is also called empathy! Since the nature of a Social Worker’s job is sensitive and personal, a good empathizer makes for a ROCK STAR social worker. Empathy is more art than science, and people have their own versions of how to do empathy well. One of the easier empathy tricks we’ve seen is emotion validation. Rather than going straight to problem/solution, the best Social Workers pause to recognize, verbalize, and connect with the feelings being expressed. For example, “Mom’s ride cancelled, so she needs an accessible vehicle to get her home from the hospital.” “Sure, I can help you with that, but ugh how stressful that the ride cancelled on you. On top of the hospitalization, this is additional stress you don’t need!”

2. Language

The best social workers use thoughtful language that is sensitive and connects. These Social Workers know that the “How’s your mom” question is the worst kind. “Terrible” and “still sick” are likely the accurate answers to the question. So people say, “She’s ok, hanging in, seeing her doctor again this week.” Meantime, that question sparks an inner monologue reminding the person about the overall state of mom, making her feel stressed and sad in that moment. The “How’s your mom doing lately?” is a better question because the answer can be honest, focused on the here and now. “She’s doing ok lately, no major declines or changes, she’s seeing her doctor this week, so will see how that goes.” I know this seems like a subtle distinction, but the right language goes very far! If you don’t know the right language to use, try a few different approaches with people and see when you get the warm, appreciative smiles in response.

3. Do the Work

The best Social Workers go the extra mile. They don’t just do an internet search and pass along a laundry list. They research each option, googling for reviews and additional information, they might even call a facility to learn more. These Social Workers are detail-oriented, perfectionist, and proactive — thinking ahead and preventively, preparing their clients for the future. The extra effort goes a long way with the people they’re helping. The extra work, while sometimes not acknowledged, is always apparent.

4. Customer Service

Social Workers and other service professionals sometimes forget that they’re in a service business. Anybody who “serves” provides service. The top Social Workers set out to do their job AND deliver a smile. Good customer service is often glaringly missing from clinical settings. When Social Workers connect with their constituents — through compassion, humor, and extra effort — wow, the results are astounding.

5. Networking

The world has clued in to the power of a network! Social and professional networks can take the form of websites or can be as informal as a coffee with a colleague. The best Social Workers know that building their network of peers, mentors, and clients takes effort and time. Building up a powerful network pays dividends down the road when you’re looking for a new job or additional clients. Networking should be seen as an investment. You might not reap immediate reward but the payoff makes the time worth it. Luckily, the internet makes it easier than ever to build your network. Use industry-relevant networks like Wellthy, professional networks like LinkedIn, and social networks like Facebook to connect with a broader group. And put regular time into each site to build and maintain your profiles, connect with peers, share knowledge and information.

What are your tips for success? Share them with us at hi@wellthy.com or tweet them to us at @wearewellthy.