Communicating with Families of Diverse Backgrounds

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: The Importance of Family Involvement in School Activities

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:03 Interacting With…
  • 1:08 Tips
  • 3:53 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Nate Sullivan

Nate Sullivan holds a M.A. in History and a M.Ed. He is an adjunct history professor, middle school history teacher, and freelance writer.

In this lesson, we'll learn about interacting with families of diverse backgrounds. We'll explore the challenges and rewards involved in this process, and we'll highlight tips that aid in the communication process.

Interacting With Diverse Families

Imagine you're starting your first day as a social worker or other, similar professional at a local department of social services. You are just out of graduate school and have studied much about interpersonal relationship skills and effective communication. You're feeling confident and ready to take on the world. Then your supervisor asks you to lead a meeting in which you must discuss a treatment plan for a child whose primary language is Japanese and whose family has difficulty understanding English. You don't know any Japanese, and suddenly you don't feel as confident as before. In fact, you're a little scared. You struggle to recall what you studied about communicating with families of diverse backgrounds.

Interacting with families of diverse backgrounds can be challenging but rewarding. Challenges include language barriers, cultural barriers, and fear of being misunderstood. The rewards of learning to communicate effectively with families of diverse backgrounds far outweigh the challenges, however. Rewards include gaining new perspectives on life, developing interpersonal relationship skills, and, most importantly, helping the community and the world.


When interacting with families of diverse backgrounds, demonstrating an empathetic attitude is critical. Empathy is the capacity to share or understand another's feelings or emotions. When you take a genuine interest in understanding others and are able to empathize with their situation, it helps set the stage for building a trusting relationship in which positive communication can take place.

Active listening involves using non-verbal body language to communicate undivided attention. Examples of active listening include making eye contact and nodding your head. These behaviors show that you care about and understand what is being said.

Now that we have covered active listening, let's discuss reflective listening. Reflective listening means listening attentively to a speaker, then summarizing back to them what they said. You're basically ''reflecting'' their own words back to them. This type of listening helps limit miscommunication and ensures that both parties are on the same page.

It's important to gather as much information from the family as possible. Asking open-ended questions and utilizing reflective listening are great strategies for creating treatment plans for children of diverse families.

It's also important to make use of an interpreter if possible. Unfortunately, there will be many instances in which an interpreter will be unavailable. Many children whose parents do not speak English can speak English themselves, even if it's just a few words. Many families who do not understand English well usually have a relative or close family friend they can bring along to meetings to help communicate effectively.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account