Overcoming Uncertainty: "Can I answer THIS?"

Our ultimate goal is to pick up our patrons as quickly as possible while providing excellent assistance.  A genuinely welcoming greeting, given in a matter of just a few seconds, sets the tone for what can be a small but significant adventure together into the world of information. Through our need to find excellent information and solutions, we creatively tax our brains and benefit from these active, intellectual pursuits.

The same process happens when we launch our chat session and a patron's question appears.  Many of us hover over the patron's information to read over the question and discern a plausible path for answering before clicking to claim the customer.  We may be asking, "Can I really answer this?" while scouting for quick info before taking on the question.  This luxury - different from being on the desk - can mean the difference between actively helping patrons or waiting on the sidelines.

We shortchange ourselves - and our patrons - by second-guessing our abilities.  We want to balance our ability to provide the best possible answers with incredible speed of picking up our patrons.

Clicking on questions gives us opportunities to plunge into areas that help us grow as librarians and information specialists - and it helps ensure our patrons will quickly get what they need.  We don't have to be experts in certain subjects; we do have to be experts in searching and using the online tools we use every time we work with online patrons. By pausing to think things over, we may be overcomplicating the answering process.  It's easy to forget that we don't have to know the answer in order to help our customers.  We only have to know how to help and remember to rely on our resources, such as:  

 With each click, you'll gain confidence in your abilities to help patrons with myriad of topics.  You might even surprise yourself at how much you know!