Skip to main content

Angry actors are convincing!

THE GENTLE ART OF CONFLICT AVOIDANCE

As part of my public library persona, I have to (unsurprisingly) deal with the public.   Being in one of the busiest and most diverse communities in Victoria I also deal with some interesting customers.  Thankfully, my employer is fairly insightful on this front and so recently arranged for us newbies to attend a full day of "Conflict Resolution Training".

Our trainer was no slouch.  He seemed fairly laid back, but then casually mentioned that he is one of only four high-level hostage negotiators within Australia, and has trained in negotiation with the SAS and the FBI.  Not that I imagine a heated overdue fine discussion will ever end in a hostage situation, but I guess it depends on the size of the fine.  As with any typical training session, there was a lot of whiteboard writing and workbook reading and question answering - but what was most interesting was watching video snippets of previous students navigating their way through role play scenarios.  These weren't your usual role plays, either.  Professional actors were hired to be very professionally angry at us, swear at us, and generally be annoyed; very convincingly disgruntled.  And even though you knew they were actors, I was still nervous.

So what newly-learned skills did I take into my three conflict scenarios?  And was I able to apply them under pressure?  In training, the two major messages to take into conflict were empathy/listening followed by ownership/resolution.  I had always thought I was generally good at both of these steps, however when faced with a convincingly disgruntled and swearing customer, my empathy ability flew out the window and all I wanted to do was resolve the situation.  Bam - that's exactly what the trainer said would happen.  And so the self-awareness kicked in and I was able to consciously take a step back and work at the empathy first.  Work at listening, agreeing and sympathising and showing understanding, and also eliciting a few "absolutely" and "definitely" from the patron.  Only then, when I had demonstrated that I understood where the patron was coming from, could we begin to discuss resolutions.

Did I think that I learned much from this training, and do I think it's relevant to life in a public library?  Hell yeah and definitely.  I hate conflict, I avoid it as much as possible, and can sometimes suffer from being a little too soft - but this training helped me in some small way to realise that conflict is just another interaction that needs to be navigated through, and if you have the right tools then it can somehow seem less daunting.  It's only been a few days since the training - i'll post an update if and when I can report back whether my new knowledge was successfully applied!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Using librarian skills to uncover a network of dodgy shopping sites!

In all my posts over the years I'm not sure if I ever mentioned I am an avid steampunker.  Like many of my quirky fellow librarians, I love a good dress up and recently found myself searching for a great pair of boots to go with the Steampunk Aviator Superhero costume I'm assembling (trust me, it will work!).

One evening whilst idly thumbing through Pinterest I found a picture of these undeniably AWESOME combat-boot style boots.  I followed the link to the website (www.chichola.com) and although it didn't look dodgy and offered PayPal, I am a cautious online shopper and always check the customer reviews first.  They were 1000% abysmal.  Like the kind of reviews that say SCAM, THEFT and CAN I LEAVE 0 STARS.  So despite loving the shoes, I was definitely not parting with my money on this occasion.

Fast forward a couple of months and I see an ad for Victorian-style cosplay boots in my Insta feed.  Did I mention that I am an avid steampunker?  Because seriously, these shoes…

It only takes a second (ment)

What the hell is a secondment?
Some people I have chatted to have no idea what I'm talking about (and I also discovered that some spell-check utilities don't even recognise the word) so I thought I would clear the confusion by ripping a definition straight from Merriam-Webster:
Definition of secondmentplural-s

: the detachment of a person (such as a military officer) from his or her regular organization for temporary assignment elsewhere.

So if you just substitute "library services officer" for "military officer" you have an explanation of my situation!

Being a qualified Librarian can take you in so many different directions. One of the reasons I chose the tag "Ambidextrous Librarian" was because I honestly had no idea which direction my career would go. I have worked in school libraries and the kids and teachers are absolutely fantastic, but the pay, conditions and options for career development aren't all that varied. I tri…

A Somewhat Risky Business

Working in a public library means I am surrounded all day by books (duh).  Books are such pretty things - there is a reason why publishers spend big bucks on cover design, and that's because we pretty much ignore the old "don't judge a book by its cover" and happily judegy-judge away.  We can't help it, bright and shiny things attract us!

So as I was standing at the circ desk the other day having a bit of a rest between patrons, I found my eyes drawn yet again to a book that was on display.  I had been gazing at it on and off all day, and I couldn't really make out the title but it was the dress that caught me, and the shiny peach converse trainers, and the pose, and the luxurious hair.  I decided that the universe was telling me I had to borrow it, even if I had absolutely no idea what it was about.  I took it home without even reading the blurb.

The book was titled "This is just my face; try not to stare" by Gabourey Sidibe, the actress who starr…