Attitudes are understood as the way a person views and approaches something. Alternative terms could be manner, disposition, feeling, posture, position, etc. Attitudes can also be seen as a tendency or orientation of the mind. They tell us something about how people feel about and deal with situations and individuals. While attitudes are described in the different competence areas, the authors felt the need to underline some that offer a greater level of complexity, represent a somewhat umbrella (encompassing) attitude, or play an interconnecting role.
Acceptance + -
Acceptance is interpreted as a mental attitude or disposition towards making one’s peace with a specific behaviour or situation. For example, acceptance of ambiguity – a core attitude for youth workers working in non-formal education and especially in international settings – means that youth workers believe that things can look very different depending on the perspective they take. They may not understand some behaviours and occurrences but can still accept that they what as they are. Note: accepting does not necessarily mean agreeing.
Appreciation + -
Appreciation can be described as an understanding of the positive meaning or quality of something or someone. In the context of partnerships and networking, youth workers, for example, need to appreciate the added value of a new partnership and the collaboration opportunities it may offer.
Awareness + -
Awareness means giving space to the perception that “something is about to happen or is happening” – a kind of recognition and/or consciousness of actions, even if it is not so clear at first (like being aware of a feeling). At the same time, awareness also refers to having an understanding or recognition of certain conditions, capacities, circumstances, processes. Youth workers, for example, need to be aware of their own competences and resources in order to fulfil their role as facilitators of a group, as a member in a team, when designing programmes, etc. Simultaneously, youth workers should be aware of certain tensions or hidden conflicts in the team so they can address them when collaborating with others.
Carefulness + -
Carefulness is about ensuring a “safe” learning environment while being attentive to possible challenges and risky situations. In the context of youth work, for example, it is necessary that youth workers be careful regarding young people’s safety and well-being and not to use methods that implicitly reinforce stereotypes and discrimination mechanisms.
Commitment + -
Commitment means engaging oneself. It involves a strong belief in an idea or a process or applying oneself to something. People think and/or sense before they commit themselves. For example, youth workers – in order to deal with people and facilitate dialogue processes – may have the commitment to critically reflect on different sources of information.
Empathy + -
Empathy can be defined as the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing by putting oneself ‘into their shoes’. In other words, empathy is feeling ‘with# another person – sensing and understanding their feelings, thoughts and experiences. Empathy is mentioned in almost all competence areas, as it is required when working with young people and considering their needs, feelings, challenges and motivations. It is also crucial when working in teams and with partners and stakeholders to take the diversity of perspectives into account.
Openness + -
Openness stands for being open to new ideas, to meeting people with different beliefs, values and behaviours, to being in new environments and to making different experiences. Openness goes hand in hand with curiosity. The following specifications can be stated as generally helpful for youth workers working internationally:
- an openness to new challenges plays an important role in group and team processes, in the design of programmes and generally in facilitating non-formal learning processes
- an openness towards ambiguity in groups and in learning processes (accepting something that one is not sure of or that one is not familiar with).
Readiness + -
Readiness is about being prepared for certain actions, occurrences, events or experiences. Some examples help to illustrate readiness and at the same time can serve as general attitudes of youth workers as well:
- a readiness to upskill
- a readiness to be challenged and to take risks
- a readiness to challenge others.
Sensitivity + -
Sensitivity means a certain ability to register and to respond to feelings (of oneself or others), for instance a sensitivity to diversity (in the group or in general).
Showing interest + -
Showing interest stands for a sense of curiosity and for caring about someone or something. Examples include when youth workers
- are interested in processes of change
- show an interest in young peoples’ well-being
- display a genuine interest in the group’s needs.
Trusting and believing + -
Trusting and believing mean being confident in what happens and in what somebody does or says. For instance, this can mean for youth workers to trust and believe that (young) people are capable of directing their own learning, which is an important general attitude in the field of non-formal learning.