Module 3: Body Language and Nonverbal Communication

Expressing interest in the question

More Than a Smile

Approachability is more than just smiling; it is also about using the correct body language to indicate that you are available. Patrons take notice of our words and our behavior. Our physical behaviors are another way of showing patrons respect and courtesy and expressing interest in what the patron is saying. In addition to smiling:

  • Accompany your patron. Directions that may seem simple could be confusing to a patron.
  • Give the patron your full and undivided attention.
  • Be aware of cultural differences; in some cultures it is impolite to make direct eye contact. Do not be disconcerted if some patrons do not return eye contact.

Communication Style in Virtual Reference

Users should know what to expect. It is important to have procedures and policies in an accessible place. They should indicate scope, type of answers provided, and expected turnaround times.

In regard to communication in virtual reference interviews, beyond the tips in Module 2, try to:

  • Greet the patron in text-based environments by sending a prompt to convey interest in the patron’s question
  • In email, acknowledge users’ questions in a timely manner with a response.

Major Point: Being approachable and expressing interest in the patron’s questions are essential model reference behaviors, in both in-person and virtual reference services.