Association of Research Libraries
Research Library Issues 291 2017
effort to build and further develop interpersonal communication
among library colleagues, within and across departments. This
communication development transcends librarianship, and while
it does focus on the work, the need for improved communication
centers around two fundamental components. First, an acceptance
of meeting the constituents’ needs first, and second, a recognition
that interpersonal communication and shared understanding are
based on trust and must be cultivated over time, with patience
and complete buy-in from all parties. These components require
a shift towards understanding and valuing the holistic approach
to the work, and what that means on an individual level.
Beyond evolving roles, skill sets, and responsibilities, it is how
colleagues interact internally that affects how they work with and
relate to constituents. Critical to the development of these three
areas is an examination, reflection, and evolution of interpersonal
communications. In Library Conversations: Reclaiming Interpersonal
Communication Theory for Understanding Professional Encounters,
Marie Radford and Gary Radford “consider a view that sees
conversation as a means of self-reflection, insight and behavioral
change.”4 Approaching conversations this way creates cooperative
opportunities to interactively contribute to the discussion, making
the content and proceeding actions dynamic and shared. Upon
examining several types of communication theory, Radford and
Radford discuss a desired shift in focus from control and persuasion
to communicating for feedback, moving the conversation beyond
a transmittal of information to a receptive, interactive process.
All library staff are responsible for how they communicate with
each other, and the way messages are conveyed and shared is just as
important, if not, at times, more so, as the content: “As communicators
in professional settings, our role is to be the custodian of the
communication process. We need to initiate, sustain and transform
patterns of communication with our workplaces.”5 Again, this is not
easy in practice, but it can be argued that consciously or unconsciously,
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