From Invisible to Invaluable: Get Seen, Get Heard, Get Ahead

By Jennifer Mendez

I recently attended the ARK Law Firm Libraries 2022 conference in New York City, and I was blown away by the keynote delivered by Robyn Hatcher on the first day of the conference. On her website, Robyn describes herself as a communication expert, international keynote speaker, coach, author, and consultant. She taps into her experiences as a Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner, writer, and actor to deliver entertaining and enlightening keynotes.

Photo by Josh Boaz on Unsplash

Robyn opened by telling the story of The Golden Buddha. If you haven’t heard it before, I’ll provide you with a succinct version. A group of monks were relocating a giant clay Buddha when one of the monks noticed a large crack in the clay. Upon taking a closer look, the monk noticed there was a golden light emanating from the crack in the clay. Wanting to examine the contents further, he used a hammer and a chisel to chip away at the clay exterior until he revealed that the statue was made of solid gold.

Robyn’s message was simple: Remove your clay so that you can shine! Shining requires focusing on three things: excavate, communicate, and radiate.

With everything going on in the world, it can be easy to focus on all of the negativity around us – both at work and personally. Based on all of the information surrounding the Great Resignation, it would seem many people are dealing with burnout or looking for better opportunities. In order to center ourselves, Robyn suggested we dig (excavate) ourselves out of the negativity and center ourselves around positive thoughts. Specifically, she suggested that we think DAILY about how your workplace is better because of you. She also suggested starting a “value vault” to house all of the successes, positive feedback, etc. that we receive so that we can turn to the value vault whenever we’re feeling unseen or unheard at work.

You can only be seen, heard, and valued if you communicate properly. This means being able to learn and understand different communication styles. In her book, Standing Ovation Presentations: Discover Your Communication “Actortype” and Let it Shine, Robyn covers the various types of communication styles, which she refers to as actortypes. Because many of us have various “actortypes” depending on the audience, forum, etc., Robyn emphasizes that your true actortype, or character, is revealed when you’re under pressure. Irrespective of your actortype or communication style, Robyn’s main point was that we have to be adaptable to other styles, especially in the workplace. You may need to adjust to an employee or colleague who prefers face-to-face or phone conversations over email. On the other hand, it’s possible you’ll ask someone for assistance, and they’ll request a detailed email with specifics and hard deadlines. We have to be able to work with all (or most) actortypes in order to be successful. Additionally, mastering communication styles helps when conducting presentations, attending a job interview, asking for a raise, and much more.

Finally, when communicating with others, we should always radiate value at every single moment. We should be mindful of how we radiate visually (what’s seen), vocally (what’s heard), and verbally (what’s said) when we communicate. What is your body language conveying? What’s the vocal tone when you’re asking for something? Those things are incredibly important when trying to get what you need. When asking for additional budget for a new resource, a promotion, help on your team, etc., make sure you radiate confidence.

A lot of what Robyn talked about seems to be common knowledge, but it was the way she said it, which I think is exactly the point. I appreciated Robyn’s confidence and insistence when she stated that we should remind ourselves and others of our value. I believed in her message and wanted to shout it to anyone that would listen. I think it especially resonated with me, because recently, as I researched several law librarian-related topics for an article, I came across an article claiming that law librarians are “still valuable.” While I think the author meant well, the title rubbed me the wrong way. It’s possible I was just feeling overwhelmed and in a negative headspace when I read it, but I immediately thought, “When did the value of law librarians come into question?” As Robyn talked about going from invisible to invaluable, I had an “aha” moment about my reaction to the article. We often fall victim to assuming that people know what we’re working on or the value we bring, but it’s important to remind not just others but ourselves that we’re invaluable so that our value never comes into question.

I hope you’re inspired to remove your clay and continue to shine!


Notes Between Us (NBU) is a blog about conversations and topics of interest to the writers. The writers are expressing their personal opinions solely. The essays represent their personal beliefs and not that of their workplaces or any organization they are associated with.