Want to Help? First, Shut Up and Listen

Although their hearts might be in a good place, sometimes Social Workers and other helpers can take a savior approach to their work and end up doing more harm than good.

I challenge that approach whenever it surfaces in my work and teaching, and I work to stay vigilant to ensure that I do not succumb to it as well.

In my note “Treat Others How They Want To Be Treated” I shared a cautionary tale that demonstrated how treating people like we want to be treated can backfire when it comes to service.

Although it seems to be geared toward entrepreneurs, this talk on the importance of intentional listening by Dr. Ernesto Sirolli touches on the pitfalls of patronizing people and approaching service work from a paternalistic perspective.

Both of those approaches are products of egocentrism and ethnocentrism: two self-imposed barriers that prevent the establishment and growth of positive relationships and limit social change.

The talk contains important points for consideration that are relevant for Social Workers and other helpers, community and organizational leaders, and anyone else who aspires to be great through service.

Ubuntu,

From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones, MSW, LLMSW

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Written by

I’m a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities.

“Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian” is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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