Communications Processes in Public LibrariesPresentation Transcript
Communication Processes in Public Services How we say it; not just what we say!
‘ Basque’ in Knowledge:
Read It, Hear It, Know It @ Your Library
November 7, 2003
Why am I here?
Specifically, what is it you want to know about communication?
What aspect of communication do you want to improve in your library?
What do you think are the causes of any communication problems in your library?
Communication means . . .
Effectively sending & receiving the message
Effectiveness depends upon many types of variables
A facility that helps or hinders
Variables include . . .
Knowledge and/or education
Physical arrangement of space
Power relationships (real and/or perceived)
Body Language: How we move and how we posture
Facial Expressions: Gender differences especially in amount of smiling
Body Posture: Amount of space, relaxed or formal, types of movements, restless or at rest
Decoding Abilities: The ability to figure out other’s feelings based on nonverbal clues
More Nonverbal Communication
Touching: Who, when, how we touch others
Personal Space: The individual “bubble” around an individual that must not be invaded
Gaze: Where our eyes are during communication
Talkativeness: How much one talks, how long one holds the floor
Voice Quality: Intonation, pitch, accent
Content of speech: What we talk about & our vocabularies to do it
Passive Listening: Message sent (facts & feelings) & not fully acknowledged nor understood
Receives little feedback on message & problem
May be emotional
May not be thinking clearly
Receives little empathy or help
Finds concentration difficult
Has a cluttered mind
Is one jump ahead
May be tense with emotion
Concerned with reply
Has a different perception
Active Listening: Message sent (fact & feelings) & it is acknowledged & understood
Is able to think more clearly
Feels empathy of listener
Is helped to solve problems
Feels better about self
Owns problems & solutions
Makes commitment to solving problem
Has clear mind
Interacts with speaker
Does not make evaluations
Helps speaker to solve and own problems and solutions
We need to be aware . . .
Be aware of messages we send ourselves & others through the way we behave, sit, stand, look.
Be aware the message we send may not be the message others hear.
Be aware that the message we hear may not be what the sender really intended to communicate.
Meetings & Gender Differences
Men play meetings like this:
Speak at length
Use a declamatory voice
Resist being influenced, especially in public
Facial expressions less likely to reveal feelings or thoughts
While women . . .
Tend to play meetings like this:
Phase comments as a question
Smiling (encouraging others, embarrassment, etc.) likely to be interpreted as “agreement with . . .”
More likely to reveal self as a means of showing solidarity with or approval of others
What does this mean?
How might knowing this help you understand what goes on in meetings?
What can you do more successfully communicate in meetings?
The importance of relationship In our consumer environment, the emphasis has shifted to the quality of the relational interaction between client & staff. While the “answer” still matters, it matters less than the human element.
Increasing body of knowledge indicating that the key to success in reference & other public service contacts is the relational factor but we are only successful 55% of the time.
To judge the success of the relational factor the following are asked:
Willingness to return to the library
Willingness to return to this staff member
Users are different!
They are not experts, we are.
We know how the “system” works.
As “experts” we have a hard time seeing things from the user’s viewpoint.
We think differently about information.
Users seldom present the context of the question or inquiry.
Common causes of failure:
Not acknowledging the user
Playing 20 questions – with yes & no answers
Interrupting at inappropriate times
Not following up
What about the “bad-guy” user?
There is no such thing
We are all “bad-guy” users of other systems
Attitude can greatly affect outcomes & user satisfaction
Attitude, conscious or not, affects public relations
Be poised and ready to engage users by not being engrossed in other work
Establish initial eye contact (cultural differences need to be recognized here)
Smile, smile, smile
Have open body language
Acknowledge the presence of the user
Friendly greeting to initiate conversation
Standing up, moving forward and/or closer to patron
Using inclusion makes you & the user both winners!
Inclusion is a way of making the user a partner.
Describe briefly what you are doing
Use inclusive language -- “we” “our”
Acknowledge user’s contribution
Restate the problem or question
Indicate that you are listening
If appropriate, indicate how much time the task will take
Assure the user that it is okay to ask more
Use open, not closed questions
Avoid jumping to conclusions
Put the inquiry in context
Use sense-making questions
Reflect content back to user
Have clear closure – the art of the tactful ending
Points of service
Think about one-stop shopping concept
Consider labels/language used in signage
Consider the furniture used at points of contact
Hold staff accountable for how they treat & communicate with patrons
Provide customer service & communication training as needed
Walk the talk - - - model appropriate behavior
Being approachable . . .
Acknowledge others waiting for help
Remain visible to patrons as much as possible
Rove through the area offering assistance
Follow-up with patrons whenever possible
Invite patrons to return with further/new questions or inquiries.
Do you do these things?
If not, why not?
Success in the first 30 seconds!
Tone of voice
Repeating or paraphrasing
Turning off users
Provide unmonitored referral
Immediately refer the user to somewhere else
Imply that the user should have done something else first
Tell the user that the info does not exist
Signal nonverbally the end of the transaction
Warn user to expect defeat
Go away & do not return
Successful communication is a two-way street
For organizational communication – remember “do unto others”
Two wrongs do not make a right!
In general, there is no such thing as too much communication.
Individuals are free to accept or ignore what they do not want.
You can lead a horse to water, but . . .
Setting goals for improving your communication skills
By December 1 st , I will improve my nonverbal communication clarity by:
By December 1 st , I will improve my verbal / listening communication clarify by: