I’m classically introverted, which means that I tend to show people I care about them by listening a lot more than I speak. When it comes to talking about myself, then, I’m usually a little awkward and I sometimes feel like I have an ego if I tell people about something that happened to me. It takes me a lot for me to talk about my world with others, at least in person. I’ve always felt more comfortable writing than talking, which is why blogging is important for me.
I’m slowly learning that it’s okay for me to drop information about the services I provide to patrons, friends, or anyone, really. Here are some introvert-approved ways of talking about your skills without feeling intrusive or annoying.
1. Throw out a small tidbit before a program. For instance, if I’m having a movie night, I might say something like, “did you know that I can show you our online collection of movies and you can download or stream them on the go?”
2. When you’re helping someone one-on-one, make a remark about how much you love to help them and you’d be happy to show them any number of related resources. You would be suprised by how many people are astonished to find that you ENJOY teaching them and building relationships.
3. When people ask me how I’m doing, I might say something like, “I’m so excited! I get to do a storytime in the park for a kindergarten class.” And maybe people chuckle at me, but I swear I’ve had some really great interactions with patrons this way. Once, I told someone that I was exhausted from spending the morning at an elementary school and she got so serious and said, “thank you for doing that.” I think it was nicest thing to say because she didn’t have kids or grandkids at the school. She just genuinely appreciated that I was putting in the work to get kids reading and excited about the library.
4. Talk about the cool parts of librarianship when you’re training volunteers or interns. I recently gave an orientation for a few interns helping me out this summer and I was sure to highlight all the things that I really love about my job. Since their parents were with them, I also talked about some of things that we statistically know about our patrons and how we’re working to meet their needs. Parents gave me dazzled looks for saying that we’re answering unemployment with training in job skills and computer classes. Everyone was smiling brightly at me at the end of my speech and asked me some very good questions about the history of the library and library services in general–all good signs.
5. Just have an infectious energy when you’re working with people. A couple days ago, I was giving a booktalk to a reluctant reader who had some learning disabilities, and I got so excited about showing him The Lightning Thief that when I looked around, all the other patrons in the aisle were watching me. One even approached me right afterward and asked for a book recommendation. High fives were shared.
All of this leads me to strongly believe that if we can show people we’re having fun, we’ll make a difference along the way.