Wednesday, June 4, 2014

You Don't Know Me! I Do What I Want!*

Greetings, dear readers!  I feel like I have been saying this at work a lot lately, so I am going to explain how I got to this point of doing what I want.

*To get to the point of doing whatever you want in prison, you need to build the professional collateral with your fellow staff and most importantly your chain of command, as well as anyone and everyone who could ever possibly be in your chain of command.  Which could literally be everyone.

To build professional collateral, consider following the following steps:

1. Be nice to people.  Yes, a lot of people won't be nice to you because they think you are a chocolate heart who is just there to give offenders stuff they shouldn't have.  Don't let the haters spew their haterade all over your game.  Heap coals of fire upon their heads by being so nice, and so helpful, and so polite that they can not say a negative word against you.

2. Always be willing to jump in and get dirty to help out where needed.  Pair up with officers or other blue staff so they can see how awesome you are.  You get to learn a new job and help with facility security and BONUS also do some library outreach!

3. Pick your battles.  Learn what's important to your chain of command, and be mindful of that when you are making decisions.  Does your major always want to know what other facilities are doing certain things when you just want to be a trailblazer and who cares who else does it already?  Think about how important it really is, do some research and present your plan in terms they can understand.  Are you the only facility to do something, AND it is a drastic change from the status quo?  Might be an issue to consider picking your battle and putting it on the back burner until there is someone more amenable in your chain of command.

4. Always give 100%.  If your colleagues see your positive attitude, willingness to help, ability to follow policy, you showing up to work every day, AND on time, you will look really good in an environment where "banging off" is a common occurrence to just get an extra day off and use sick time rather than vacation time.
5. Be personable.  This is different from being nice, in that you can be nice, but people still might not take notice if you are not personable as well.  This includes being engaging, making people laugh, caring about what people are saying to you, and making an impression on everyone you interact with.  I think a lot of times introverts are drawn to librarianship, and being an introvert is not a bad thing, by any means.  But in prison, you are always on stage, and if being in front of people and interacting with people makes you uncomfortable or awkward, maybe you would want to consider a cataloging or IT position.  Being personable also means talking to people with nice tones, and not talking down to them or yelling at them about things.  I like to think of everyone as my customer at my bar.  Even though they don't pay me with tips anymore, I still treat them like they do and everyone is happy.  Snotty bartenders = no tips.  Snotty prison librarians = probably not many people would lift a finger if you were being assaulted in the library.

6. Give it time.  You can't just come waltzing in and expect everyone to know how awesome you are just because you are the librarian.  Getting to the point of doing what you want takes time, I think I put in about 4 years of time before I really became able to do what I wanted more often than not.

7. Have humility.  Sometimes, being able to do whatever you want goes to your head and you might do some things that don't work out as planned.  Be willing to take responsibility for your actions, and apologize if necessary.  Use everything as a learning experience and possibly your next time of doing what you want will work out better.

8. Have a sense of humor.  People like to hang around with people who make them laugh.  I started out saying "I do what I want!" as a joke a little bit before I actually started doing what I wanted to get people used to the idea.  I said "I do what I want!" and then did what they wanted.  Maybe a little tricky... I just like to look at it as my personality.  I like to exaggerate to make a point.  People now understand and appreciate that because I make it funny.  Maybe it's all just a part of my evil plan to take over the world.  Who knows. :-)

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