Component 1: Statement of Competency
Beyond communication being a vital part of our lives and society; the information profession is user-oriented, meaning our day to day tasks involve communicating at some level with another person. This communication can and will take place across multiple verbal mediums, both oral and written, and in formal or informal settings; the key is to know when one is more appropriate than another. The fact that our profession revolves around communication, it is vital that we hone our skills to be professional and personable to serve the needs of our users.
The avenues in which communication can take place is exponentially greater than it was 10 years ago. We have social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, SMS/Text, IM/Chat, e-mail, snail mail, virtual collaboration (Skype, Google Hangout, Blackboard Collaborate), blogs, and traditional face-to-face. Many of these avenues exist in libraries today, requiring us as information professionals to understand the best practices in using each.
All forms of communication require well developed skills to be effective in conveying an idea to another body. Developing these communication skills requires study and practice. Evans and Ward (2007, p272) recommend to review a set of simple questions as you communicate with others in both written and oral forms:
- What am I trying to convey?
- With whom am I communicating?
- When is the best time to do this?
- Where is the best place?
- What is the best channel?
- Why am I communicating?
When preparing a written form of communication you have the option of revising your message multiple times before anyone ever hears it, asking yourself these questions during your preparation will help assure that you are effectively communicating your thoughts to your audience. These questions are more easily applied to a planned communication setting such as memos, newsletters, annual reports, staff meetings, and training sessions; however through experience, trial and error, these question will become second nature and easily applied to on the spot oral and written communication.
I have suggested that communication in libraries always occurs where we know or see our receiving audience such as in meetings or serving users at the reference desk or circulation desk. I failed to express that communication also includes the static resource guides, brochures, instructional content in various forms of media (e.g. YouTube video), users rely on well-crafted documents to help them retrieve the information they are seeking. The six questions presented above apply to these forms of communication as well.
I’ve discussed practices in communicating your thoughts effectively however a major key in effective communication is the ability to listen. Evans and Ward state that, “We hear about four times faster than most people speak; that leaves about three-quarters of our listening time free for the mind to wander…In addition to having substantial amounts of time available for the mind to wander while listening, we also ‘filter’ what we do hear” (2007, p279). Listening is tough business but it is imperative to good communication. When we listen we not only open the playing field for ideas that complement our ideas but we also communicate to the audience that we care about what they have to say, ultimately people just want to be heard and valued. As information professionals it is likely we will do significantly more listening than anything else as our profession is user-oriented. In order to respond accurately to the desires/needs/wants of the user we need to hear what they are saying; being able to listen will help avoid miscommunication as well as help calm irate customers, “By listening you are showing respect for the customer and her or his problem which, again, show that you are on the same ‘side’ as she or he. It also allows the patron a chance to get it out and calm down” (Rach, 2011)
Component 2: Justification of Evidence and Evidence:
The first piece of evidence I chose to show my understanding and mastery of written communication is a [Berkeley_CL] I wrote for a job application at the University of California, Berkeley. I included this piece of evidence because it is a prime example of the importance of written communication. A good cover letter will execute the thoughts of the writer to an important deciding body effectively. Just as with any form of communication the way in which you present yourself in the cover letter could make or break the situation at hand, in this case a job interview opportunity.
The second piece of evidence I have included for this competency is an assignment [Where is my team] I wrote on the importance of communication in team work, especially virtual teams. In this assignment I also discuss maintaining a successful team; this is tied directly into communication. This assignment demonstrates my understanding of communication in not only one-on-one situations but how it affects team work.
My third piece of evidence is a [Canvas Tutorial – course_copy ] I developed for the faculty on copying their Canvas courses into another Canvas course shell. This piece of evidence demonstrates my ability to effectively communicate across a one sided medium, a web page. It shows my ability to be concise in my documentation and clear in my instructions to accomplish the end goal.
My final piece of evidence is a link to a meet-up session recording I did for my Peer Mentoring course [Fall 2013 Peer Mentor Meet rec]. I begin the session by introducing myself and communicating to the participants what the session is one and how we will begin. We have the participants introduce themselves in the beginning of the presentation so the main portion of my part of the presentation begins at 11:00 – 22:35. I selected this piece of evidence to demonstrate my oral communication to a group.
Communication is vital to society, without it we would all be very frustrated from being unable to share our thoughts and concerns with others. Our communication skills, as information professionals, is a service to our patrons, the better we do it the greater impact we will have on the community.
Evans, G.E & Ward, P.L. (2007). Management basics for information professionals. Second edition. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.
Rach. (2011, January 3). Defusing the angry patron [Web log post] Retrieved from: http://livinginthelibraryworld.blogspot.com/2011/01/defusing-angry-patron.html