Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Communicating can be a challenge

I can think of nothing more frustrating at work than having to explain library policy to non-native English speakers, or those who don't really speak English at all. Our area has a lot of Somalians, which I think is great in a general way, but it makes for tense situations.

I just got off the phone a little while ago with someone who returned the incorrect VHS in a case. When this happens, we're not supposed to check the item in. We notify the patron and then hope they return the missing piece, but it's not always easy to do this. I tried very hard to explain the situation calmly and simply to this particular patron, using limited vocabulary and in multiple ways, but I'm not sure I got through. It makes me sad.

Normally, I am a competent employee, usually exceeding expectations of my job description, being helpful and friendly with everyone I see. I'm excellent at communication, so it's very frustrating for me at a personal level when I can't really talk to someone. Normally, I embrace a challenge on the job, except this isn't really something I can overcome, it's just something I have to learn from.

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