I cannot think of a single thing that stuck with me more during my first year of graduate school than learning the power of “I wonder.” Using “wondering” statements can make your statements or questions less bold, which can make your clients feel more comfortable and can prevent coworkers, peers, or supervisors from feeling attacked.
(to a client)
“I think you’re not telling me what you’re really feeling.”
“I wonder if there’s anything else you might be feeling. When people go through ___, they often feel ____”
(to a supervisor)
“I am worried that I will not get the experience I need here.”
“I wonder if we can talk about how other projects and duties I can take on here”
(to a client’s parent)
“I don’t think you did time-out right”
“I wonder if you can walk me through what you did. Then, we can see what worked and what didn’t”
(Supervisor or professor gives you feedback you didn’t like)
“Why did you say that?”
“I wonder if you can give me further clarification.”
(client asks a question you cannot answer)
“Uhhh… I really cannot answer that…”
“You know, unfortunately, I can’t answer that, but I wonder why you ask?”
Of course, any of the first statements can be modified in other ways to make them more palatable for others. There is no right way, but “I wonder” statements have come in so handy. Only use the statements if you can see yourself saying the words. The worst thing you can do is act in ways that are not genuine to who you are. Authenticity is in many ways more important than clinical knowledge, in my opinion. We all talk differently as social workers than we do in our personal lives, but we should always be genuine.
Any other tips ideas? Please comment and let me know! I may add a part 2 or edit this blog post. Either way, I will incorporate new info as best I can!
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