Putting Positive Persuasion into Practice

Lynn Brown, University of Nottingham

Librarianship is a communicating profession at heart, but communication comprises more than simple information exchange. Sometimes, you need to influence positively, as Lynn reports from this recent MSDG workshop.

On a very windy and rainy morning in February I fought my way across Birmingham from the station to Aston University for a Mercian collaboration session on Positive influencing skills.  I manage a large team of Customer Services staff and so am always looking for ways to upskill in this area; and at no time more than the present, as we implement a new LMS at the University of Nottingham. 

I think this was one of the best courses (if not the best) [Let’s agree it’s the latter – Ed] I have ever been on and I’ve been on a few in my thirty-six-year career to date!  I felt very privileged to have access to a real expert and someone who is such a brilliant and appealing speaker and facilitator.

Terry’s credibility and experience in his field was never in dispute from the outset and more than that, he made the content totally engaging and entertaining really.  The pace was perfect, pretty swift, and the balance between input and activity was again, just right. 

We all know that these skills are crucial but how many times do you attend a course and then get back to your desk, file away the notes and never think about it again?  Not so with this one.  I keep hearing Terry’s words and I have already looked up techniques in the notes several times as I have been faced with situations where I know they could help. 

I attended our LMS project Change Champions meeting this week to talk about our new Loan policies.  I knew that I would face many questions and potentially significant challenge and I needed to communicate in a positive and effective way to allay concerns and get everyone to focus on the benefits of the new system.  I spent time ahead thinking about differing perspectives; something Terry had talked about illustrated by a picture of both a baby and a cat looking at a gold fish in a bowl. I was also aware of Terry’s ‘newsreader’ concept around voice, posture and clarity.  And I think the third key area of the session that stuck in my mind was about framing the message.  I am sure I didn’t do any of these things in a text book manner, but I tried them and I know that through practice I can do better and better.  Importantly the mood remained positive and the discussion constructive.

So massive thanks to Terry and to all the friendly colleagues I met that day. I don’t think I’ll be selling a car or a gym membership any time soon, I’ll stick to my day job, but in the knowledge that I can and will improve the way that I carry out my role.