Dual nature of interpersonal communication Content – what is said Relational – how it is said Factors that influence interpersonal communication Personality types Age and gender Socioeconomic status Culture Nonverbal cues Technology (or the medium of delivery)
Communicating through Technology Through technologies communication can be either synchronous or asynchronous Synchronous – phones, Skype, chat reference Asynchronous – email, text message, twitter, blogs, Google docs, etc. Virtual reference can straddle the line, depending on how the service is managed.
Relational facilitators in Virtual Reference Punctuation and font Emoticons Abbreviations (internet jargon) Polite expressions to show deference Self-disclosure and humor to build rapport Greeting and closing rituals Barriers – impatience, jargon
Nonverbal Communication Communication conveyed through other means other than words. Nonverbal communication is defined as “…eye contact, tone of voice, facial expression, posture, gestures, positioning of arms and legs, style of dress, and distance between people.” (Ross and Dewdney, 1998) What is this librarian telling you?
Intercultural CommunicationCommunication Skills Fluency in the “host” language Supports and rewards others during communication (head nods, etc.) Selects behavior according to circumstances Speaks in turn Starts and ends a conversation appropriately Attentive, responsive, and perceptive Empathetic (Chen, 1990)
Intercultural Communication Psychological Adaptation Able to adapt with relative ease to a new culture High tolerance of ambiguity Able to cope with feelings of stress, frustration, and alienation (Chen, 1990)
Intercultural Communication Cultural Awareness Learn about the culture, especially its thinking patterns Know the culture’s values, social customs, and social system (Chen, 1990)
Preexisting knowledge about a certain culture small effect Expectations and attitudes directed towards the culture Actual experience with a person of that culture LARGE EFFECT (Manning, Manusov, & Winchatz, 1997)
Socioeconomic Status People with a low SES who need information may not often be assertive about getting it. The information professional may need to take the initiative to approach the user.
Gender Differences MALE Prefer dogmatic, pragmatic, cerebral aspects of communication Tendency to interrupt Use conversation to convey information FEMALE Greater desire to be social Generally talkative Like to involve others in conversation Use conversation as a tool for facilitating interaction
Personality Types Everyone is different! Frameworks such as the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory can help facilitate understanding While not all will be true of all people, there are some things to expect from different types…
Personality Types Picking up on a patron’s preferences can help you meet their needs and expectations Knowing your own preferences can help you set them aside when they interfere with the above How might some of these types benefit from a non-traditional reference interview (online, in the stacks, etc…)?