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Board and Leadership Behaviours: de·fen·sive·ness /dəˈfensivnəs/

I’ve noticed that as stress increases in our organizations – fiscal,  technological, pandemic changes – there is a tendency toward a certain defensiveness.
  • Association members ask questions and they’re told that it is disruptive, impolite, and unhelpful.
  • Customers post reviews that and/or make comments on social media that are upsetting.
  • Clients question whether librarianship is relevant in the Internet world.
  • and so on and so on.
So this post seeks to address the competencies needed to avoid defensiveness and seek a positive path through learning, listening, and good interactive communication.
Skill Number One: Know what being ‘defensive’ is so you can trigger yourself to avoid it.
  • noun
    “their supporters have reacted with defensiveness and hostility to the disclosure”
    2. behavior intended to defend or protect.
    “defensiveness of the hive was related to the size of the colony”

Skill Number Two: Feedback is a Gift

This perspective I learned from Rebecca Jones  – – “Feedback Is a Gift”

Like that wedding gift from Aunt Sally, you can keep it, display it, return it, or hide it in the closet. It’s your choice. Don’t overvalue one piece of out-of-context feedback or let it loom out of perspective and balance. Feedback is best digested in the aggregate rather than in small doses. Squeaky wheels are fine and need to be oiled. But if it’s the engine that needs attention, then that squeaky wheel is just a distraction.  That said, if there are a lot of squeaky wheels forming a choir, then you need to listen for meaning.

Skill Number Three:  Objection handling

This is sales training 101 and applies to selling your ideas and innovations as much as it does to selling products and services.  When your target audience phrases their questions as an objection (or you hear the objection and not the real underlying question), resist the urge to be defensive.  That strengthens their opposition when the best outcome is to continue the conversation, address the real question (and the questioner’s assumptions), and educate.  Ideally you do want questions and objections.  That indicates that your audience is still thinking and learning and engaging in a decision-making process.  Silence is bad.

The 3-Step Formula For Overcoming Objections
  • Step 1: Acknowledge. The first step to managing direct objection is to face the opposition head on. …
  • Step 2: Connect. Educate. Confirm …
  • Step 3: Seek permission to Progress to next stage.
7 Tips for Effective Objection Handling
  1. Be an active listener. … Interact = The first step when responding to an objection is to carefully listen and then show empathy. Don’t be patronizing, but take an interest in their concern, try to understand their perspective and more than anything realize that you can’t argue with their opinion
  2. Mirror the prospect’s objection. …
  3. Identify the true objection. …
  4. Use empathy to validate the prospect’s concerns. …
  5. Reframe the objections and educate …
  6. Use evidence to alleviate the concerns. …
  7. Follow up with open-ended questions.

Do some quick research and practice handling objections, feedback, and questions.  We already have the core skills for this competency as information professionals.

So, how do I playfully respond to people asking if librarianship is still relevant in today’s world?

Here’s a post I wrote years ago:

Snappy Librarian Comebacks

Snappy Librarian Comebacks




Posted on: October 13, 2021, 6:13 am Category: Uncategorized

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