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Communication Processes in Public Services

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Presentation on theme: "Communication Processes in Public Services"— Presentation transcript:

1 Communication Processes in Public Services
How we say it; not just what we say!

2 ‘Basque’ in Knowledge: Read It, Hear It, Know It @ Your Library
NLA/MPLA Conference ‘Basque’ in Knowledge: Read It, Hear It, Know Your Library November 7, 2003 Incline Village Lake Tahoe

3 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?

4 Effectively sending & receiving the message
Communication means . . . Effectively sending & receiving the message

5 Effectiveness depends upon many types of variables
Individual differences Organizational structures Cultural differences A facility that helps or hinders Non-verbal messages Other?

6 Variables include . . . Gender Culture Age Language
Knowledge and/or education Body language Specialized language (library speak!) Physical arrangement of space Power relationships (real and/or perceived) Other variables?

7 Nonverbal communication
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

8 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

9 Verbal 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

10 Passive Listening: Message sent (facts & feelings) & not fully acknowledged nor understood
Sends message 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

11 Active Listening: Message sent (fact & feelings) & it is acknowledged & understood
Sends message Receives feedback Becomes relaxed 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 Is relaxed Does not make evaluations Summarizes facts Reflects feelings Helps speaker to solve and own problems and solutions

12 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.

13 Meetings & Gender Differences
Men play meetings like this: Speak at length Use a declamatory voice Interrupt Resist being influenced, especially in public Facial expressions less likely to reveal feelings or thoughts

14 While women . . . Tend to play meetings like this: Speak briefly
Phase comments as a question Wait turn 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

15 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?

16 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.

17 Relationship factor: 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

18 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.

19 Common causes of failure:
Not acknowledging the user Not listening Playing 20 questions – with yes & no answers Interrupting at inappropriate times Making assumptions Not following up

20 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

21 Being approachable 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

22 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

23 Questioning skills 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

24 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

25 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?

26 Success in the first 30 seconds!
Nonverbal Eye contact Smiling &Nodding Pausing Posture Tone of voice Oral Acknowledgement Repeating or paraphrasing Listening

27 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

28 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 . . .

29 Setting goals for improving your communication skills
By December 1st, I will improve my nonverbal communication clarity by: By December 1st, I will improve my verbal / listening communication clarify by:

30 Library Consultant & Educator
Thank you! Mary C. Bushing, Ed.D. Library Consultant & Educator Bozeman, Montana (406) Home

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