He Is Listening
Tina L. Smith
Communication in Human Services
July 29, 2014
Dr. Audra Marks, Instructor
He Is Listening
Listening can be defined as the active process of receiving, attending to, interpreting and responding to symbolic activity (Duck, 2011).
Did you hear what he just said? If they would have paid more attention to what that child had said, he may be alive today. Although rare, this this has happened all because no one would listen to a child as he or she was crying out for help. Although we listen, do we listen effectively? Do we hear what is being said, and ready between the lines? Do we listen to the parts we want to hear and tune out the rest? Or, do we listen and fully grasp the contents of the words that have been spoken?
These are questions that are asked continually in the mind of Mr. Edward Wallace. Mr. Wallace is employed with the Arkansas Department of Human Services, Division of Children and Family Services (DHS/DCFS). At the present time, he serves as a court liaison for DCFS, but works primarily with children, 7-18 who have been committed to the Arkansas State Hospital for psychological evaluation and testing.
Mr. Wallace arrived in Arkansas in May 1982 to begin his educational career at Arkansas Baptist College. At ABC he began to embark on a career in Business Administration and quickly found this was not his calling. After completing 2 years at ABC he transferred to Philander Smith College, changed his major and began studying Human Services. After graduating from PSC with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Human Services, he became a case manager for Youth Homes. While a case manager, Mr. Wallace acknowledges that listening was a critical part of his job.
“Listening goes two ways,” said Mr. Wallace. You have to listen to what the speaker says. Upon employment all new case managers were required to take a 3-week course in active listening. During this class, many scenarios were played out and vital questions were asked to test the attendees’ skills of listening. During active listening, it is important to block out outside noises and fully concentrate on what is being said.
After completion of the course, the attendees were sent to their workplaces to begin their careers as case managers. Each year of employment each case manager is required to maintain 24 hours in case management and listening skills. At times during the course of employment the case manager will be set up with people who specialize in effective listening, in order to test them on their skills. For 3 years Mr. Wallace worked for the Youth Home, finally landing a job with his present employer DCFS. When Mr. Wallace began working for DCFS, he started with a caseload of 150 clients. During the first 5 years he traveled from Little Rock, AR to Pine Bluff, AR, which is about a 45 minute drive. Mr. Wallace worked with children and families in groups and individual therapy. The mainframe of this job involved effective listening. To resolve some of the issues surrounding these families were massive, therefore, he had to listen to each involved party in order to devise a solution that would work for all parties involved.
Along with listening, it was important that his communication skills were on point. Before beginning to communicate, Mr. Wallace found it necessary to get to know the families. In order to accomplish this, he had to study them. This was done by reading their bio and an interview with the clients. Mr. Wallace indicated that understanding their culture and background was extremely important. When he first began working with families, because of his African American heritage or culture, he greeted a couple and hugged them. Needless to say, the session promptly ended and he was reported to his supervisor. When greeting someone, it is customary in the African American culture to hug, although this was an African American couple,...
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