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COVID-19: 8 ways to keep communication channels open 

Clare Brown
April 24, 2020

We are all under pressure at work and so it is to be expected that we occasionally face frustrations. As key service providers, information professionals often find themselves managing difficult situations - it's an important aspect part of our library management training. For a workplace to be productive, communications need to be as open and positive as possible. So here are eight quick tips to remind us that we are all in this together.

ways of communication

1. Be patient

Everyone is currently experiencing incredible changes in their lives and we all need to be kind to one another. Your end-users in law, banking, health etc. are providing professional services to clients who are facing unprecedented challenges. And it is stressful. Look beyond the difficult requests and understand why people are reacting in a certain way.

2. Be tactical

Earn yourself some gold stars and share your expertise with your end-users to make their life easier. Right now, you should be invaluable. They are reliant on you to maintain the organisation’s information flow, so make sure they know that. Arrange online database training, negotiate online subscriptions, update current awareness alerts, and maintain intranet portals.

3. Show your value

Professional services rely on knowledge, and information people are effective filters. In information saturated industries, librarians are in the perfect position to show value. As an in-house information and research specialist you can give your end-users an edge by feeding them that extra tidbit of information that nobody else yet knows.

4. Speak their language

Information professionals are excellent at picking up the buzzwords and key phrases used by the people around them. In your communications, use language end-users understand and demonstrate that you are on the same page. Avoid jargon at all costs.

5. Be open

Ask your end-users what they need. Feedback has never been more important, and they might have some ideas regarding service provision. The reason for your end-user’s frustration may well be a lack of communication between you both. Unfortunately you can’t just swing by their offices at the moment, but find out their preferred communication channel - and use it.

6. Minimise interruptions

Client calls, meetings and emails mean that your end-users are always available to their clients. They are constantly faced with endless demands on their time. Work with this, not against it by identifying the best time to communicate with them. For example, set up morning alerts for a news round up, and a late afternoon for more detailed news analysis. Content automation with analysis and tracking tools can help you manage your current awareness.

7. Know your tech

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people were clearly overwhelmed by the choice of communications technologies on offer. Circumstances mean that organisations have had to implement systems and policies overnight. But don’t let tech get in the way of conversation; if it is a one-off question with no real urgency, it might be more convenient to contact a colleague through your in-house chat or helpdesk software. As soon as it starts to get more complicated, pick up the phone or arrange a face to face video call. 

8. Finally...it’s not me, it’s you

Sometimes professional advisors have to make difficult decisions. For instance, lawyers are trained to look for problems, so they tend to look at the world from a negative perspective. Keep in mind that sometimes you may be bearing the brunt of peoples’ frustrations simply because you just happen to be there. This is the point where I recommend a break, with a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit!

These tips highlight why it is crucial for library and information professionals to be communication experts. Simply put, by asking what our end-users need, we can provide a value added service to our organisation and our clients - without which they cannot operate.

Find out more about effective communication ›

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