My personal and professional goal in all my relationships is to transition from interaction to connection. The Cambridge Dictionary online defines interaction as “a situation where two or more people or things communicate with each other or react to each other”. NY Times bestselling author and professor, Brené Brown, defines connection as “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”. As law librarians and legal information professionals we interact with so many people in our organizations. The interactions are critical in helping establish relationships with the customers we service. My next step is to foster a connection after the initial interaction. How can we foster connections? Very simple! By dotting the I’s of connection.
One of my favorite idioms I heard often growing up was “cross the t’s and dot the I’s”. My daughter is learning about idioms in her 5th grade English class. As a culminating activity, she has to come to school dressed as her favorite idiom and the students will have to guess what idiom she is dressed as. As we discussed this project, we discussed our favorite idioms. “Cross the t’s and dot the I’s” is an American expression from the early 19th century meaning to be meticulous and exact, down to the smallest detail. How appropriate is this for law librarians? For the purpose of this conversation, we will focus on dotting the I’s.
Be intentional (our customers)
Intention is the first “i” we should dot to foster connection. A simple definition of the root word intend from the Merriam Webster dictionary is “to design for a specified use or future”. To borrow a quote from my mentor and friend Greg Lambert, as law librarians and legal information professionals our intention should be to “provide the right resources and services (design) at the right time (specified use or future)”. In author and entrepreneur, Peter Guber’s NY Times best selling book, “Tell to Win”, he states “In today’s roller-coaster economy, hyper-competitive, fear-based, flat and global world, convincing anyone to do anything at any time requires getting their attention, creating their intention and turning it to action.” Once we establish our intention to connect with customers, we design methods to turn those intentions into actions that will benefit our organizations. Being intentional helps our customers derive sustenance from the relationship and strengthens our organizations.
Be Inspirational (our colleagues)
Inspiration is the second “I” we should dot to foster connection. My colleagues in the legal information profession consistently inspire and motivate me to bring the best version of myself to work every day. The AALL community has provided a space in which I have established nurturing long-term, mutually beneficial relationships and gained new perspectives from my peers. I can be creative in my intentions because of inspiration from others. This speaks to the energy that exists between people that feel seen, heard, and valued in our community. Inspiration allows my connection with colleagues to begat connection with my customers. Author, Martin Meadows sums this up beautifully with the quote, “No matter what goal you want to achieve, surround yourself with people on a similar level to inspire and motivate each other”.
Be Identifiable (ourselves)
Identity is the last and most important “i” to dot to foster connection. Identity is defined as your distinguishing character or personality. You are unable to be intentional or inspirational if authenticity is not your identity. An authentic connection is showing vulnerability and sharing one’s true identity. At this year’s AALL conference, a colleague thanked me for being my authentic self. We had previously interacted on multiple occasions, but his acknowledgement of my authenticity allowed us to create a stronger connection. This speaks to “when they can give and receive without judgment”. Our organizations are striving to create environments that we can bring our best selves to work. We can only bring the best version of us to work when we are authentic. Another awesome Brené Brown quote is “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day”. We can champion connection in our personal and professional lives by choosing to be intentional, inspirational, and identifiable.
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.