Magazine article American Libraries

Are You a Good Communicator?

Magazine article American Libraries

Are You a Good Communicator?

Article excerpt

The conventional wisdom is that the period of strong management is over. American society has become so democratic, and authority has fallen into such disrepute that anarchy reigns everywhere. Unruly students are running public school classrooms, criminals give orders to prison guards and wardens, the certifiably insane call the shots in state mental institutions, and independent prosecutors drive the agendas of all three branches of the federal government.

If you are a library administrator, what can you do in the face of this unrelenting evolution toward organizational chaos? Your choices at first glance seem to be limited to suicide or surrender. Take an authoritative posture and your employees will inevitably rebel; turn into a wimp and your employees will walk all over you.

But there is a middle ground. It is called communication. Communication is the lifeblood of a library. When it flows freely and openly between all levels of the hierarchy, you can almost bet that employee morale is upbeat and productivity is high. But when the channels of communication are narrowed and hardened, the organization is headed for a massive coronary.

Good communication starts with the frontline supervisor. As a supervisor, you can safely conclude that you have developed a dysfunctional communication style if you admit to displaying any three of the following characteristics on a consistent and ongoing basis:

1. Cultivated a strong aura of body odor through a systematic program of not bathing after lunchtime workouts.

2. Taken advantage of the impressive new advances in the field of the manufacture of artificial insects and reptiles by placing large plastic cockroaches or slimy rubber snakes in strategic locations around the desk and office area.

3. Developed the agility to display a diverse array of inappropriate nonverbal behavior patterns including crossed arms, frowning eyebrows, shaking head, blinking eyes, upturned nose, and downturned mouth all at the same time.

4. Perfected the art of sneezing profusely whenever employees get within a 10-foot radius.

5. Engaged in prolonged audible yawning during staff meetings.

6. Engaged in prolonged audible flatulence during staff meetings. …

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