Mastering the art of communication

In the upcoming Infopeople course Communication is More Than Words, learners will gain a new understanding of how we communicate in every situation, an awareness of the challenges involved in communicating effectively, and tools to improve conversations with customers and co-workers.cheryl_gould

In one section of the course, for example, instructor Cheryl Gould discusses communicating about problems AND solutions.

“Do you have coworkers who are negative? Do you feel like it’s not “safe” to bring up problems for fear of possibly being labeled negative? One of the ways you can change this is to create a rule in your organization that whenever someone brings up a problem she must also suggest at least one solution. Management literature is full of information about the problem of accountability in organizations. Accountability is about taking responsibility and following through when you say you’ll do something. When you bring up problems without taking responsibility for finding a solution, people may say you are not being accountable. Before long, others probably won’t want to hear from you and might think you are not a team player.

If you see a problem or hear of a problem from a customer, ideally you should think of it as your job to figure out how to solve the problem or pass along the information to someone who can. Because of the hierarchical nature of the library workplace, often the people who feel low in the hierarchy don’t think it is their place to make suggestions. If this is how you feel at your workplace, check your assumptions. Any good manager will welcome suggestions for improvement. That doesn’t mean your ideas will always be implemented. That’s another story, completely and far out of the scope of a communication class. What is within the scope of this course is to check your assumptions and find the truth about the best way to share problems and solutions in order to improve service.

These phrases may help you get started:

  • I’ve noticed that…
  • I’d like to talk to staff about…
  • I’d like to make a suggestion.
  • I’ve talked to several staff to collect ideas…
  • Can we set a meeting to discuss my ideas?
  • May I email some ideas to you, or would you prefer to talk in person?
  • What would be the best way for me to share some ideas with the team?

When you do communicate about problems or solutions, don’t forget to pause and let the person respond. This is especially important if you’ve caught them in a hallway or another situation where they weren’t prepared to talk to you. Remember that your sense of urgency is probably not the same as theirs. Problems and solutions require thought and conversation. Don’t expect to have a satisfying experience without setting up a situation with the right amount of time and the right people in the conversation.”

The course is filled with great information like this, covering topics including non-verbal communication, self-awareness, habits of great communicators, communication with customers, handling conflict (with customers and co-workers), choosing appropriate modes of communication, communicating with supervisors and managers, and more. A complete description of the course and registration information is available.lssc logo

This course, in combination with Infopeople’s Beyond Books: Advanced Readers’ Advisory course (offered annually), is approved as covering the Adult Readers’ Advisory competencies for ALA’s Library Support Staff Certification (LSSC) program. Both courses must be taken to meet the competency set. To learn more about the LSSC program, see the ALA website.