From the innocent “Where do babies come from?” to poking at complex political issues, a difficult question can bring conversations and workplace productivity to a halt. In libraries, they might include the vague request from the library user who doesn’t know or can’t articulate what they want. How about the loaded question meant to stop progress on a new strategic plan? Or the personal question that is more an accusation? Or the complicated problem that requires more than a simple yes or no response?

It’s not just about coming up with the “right” answer. Learn how to stay calm, confident, and competent, even when the person asking is confused, poorly informed, unorganized, or hostile. A few key strategies can keep both of you on track and, in a library workplace, can lead everyone back to work on good terms.

At the conclusion of webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Stay focused on content, not what you think the intent is
  • Stay respectful regardless of the question
  • Make a conversation a dialogue, not a monologue
  • Build trust and respect during difficult conversations
  • Take less time to deal with “hard” questions


Original broadcst November 8, 2016

Biography ~ Pat Wagner 
Pat Wagner and her husband Leif Smith own Pattern Research, Inc., [sieralearn.com], a 41-year-old training, research, and consulting business. She has worked for libraries and higher education as an educator and consultant since 1978, focusing on behavioral and organizational skills that support institutional and personal success. Her specialties include conflict management, customer service, marketing, supervision, project management, and ethics.

Pat is a frequent speaker at state and national library conferences and has worked with libraries and library-related organizations in 48 states and Canada, from small rural storefronts to the largest urban and academic libraries. She has two published books related to libraries and contributed to Conflict Management for Libraries: Strategies for a Positive, Productive Workplace (https://www.alastore.ala.org/detail.aspx?ID=46) as well as numerous articles for library-related books and magazines.

Pat is known for her practical and good-humored programs. She lives in Denver with her husband and two pushy cats