Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Applying a little persuasion

In the past, how have you persuaded people to try your ideas?

Persuading people--whether it is patrons, other colleagues, supervisors or other community members--is an important part of any librarian's job. Picking books for a book discussion group, convincing your boss to run a class for professors who want to use social networking or asking the library board to increase salaries: you better know how to persuade.

What example should you use? The best is another work-related example, preferably one that involved more than one person or transaction and which had a measurable outcome. You should focus on the evidence that you gathered to persuade the person to accept your case, if there was more than one person (a client) or a hierarchy involved (boss to manager to library board to public). Try to tell the story in chronological order with a positive and "they accepted it!" outcome.

The initial sale is also the big question: don't spend 15 minutes talking about outcomes and how you would have done things differently this time around. You should also avoid sounding glib or use an example that is too simple, the teenager believed me when I said that this was the best book on potato cannons! Avoid bullying examples, such as: I convinced the book club to read a translated, 1,300 page stream of consciousness novel and it just made them all better people! You should show how you persuaded for the greater good, not your own ego.

The ability to persuade, as selling, marketing or convincing, is one of the most useful soft skills a librarian can possess.

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