In July of this year I was awarded a scholarship to attend the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) annual conference in Philadelphia. I have always enjoyed attending these conferences, since they provide many opportunities to learn new and innovative methods for handling the day-to-day tasks of working in the law library. Many of the educational sessions are designed to help attendees improve their professional skills, not just for law library work, but also for serving in other professional roles, like serving on organizational committees, working with university administrators, and working on long-term projects, whether inside or outside the law library setting.
One of the most engaging and thought provoking sessions I attended at this year’s conference was entitled Influence: The Art and Science of Changing Minds. It was presented by Steve Hughes, founder and President of a company called Hit Your Stride, LLC., whose stated mission is, “to help people look and sound smart when they talk.”
Prior to launching his own business, Mr. Hughes spent 12 years in advertising and PR and was a managing partner at a 50-person advertising agency. He has been featured in interviews with NPR, BBC Radio, and BusinessWeek and his client list reads like a who’s who of major corporations, top law firms, and national associations.
Mr. Hughes is an outstanding presenter, with the ability to immediately engage his audience, to maintain their attention, and to deliver his message in a never-lagging delivery that informs, encourages, and challenges attendees to re-evaluate their interpersonal skills.
If there were one word that summed up Mr. Hughes message on influencing others in the workplace, it would be, listen. In every aspect of his presentation, the importance of connecting with those one wishes to influence came through loudly and clearly. To clarify that message more emphatically, not only listening, but developing empathy with ones colleagues, administrators, or clients will, in Mr. Hughes’ opinion, lead to greater success in all work related endeavors. Once empathy has been demonstrated, the path is cleared for meaningful dialogue on next steps, suggested changes, and evaluative feedback.
In a four-pronged approach, Mr. Hughes introduced the audience to concrete methods for influencing the outcome of any project negotiation, regardless of its size or scope. None of these tools are difficult to develop, they only require patience and a firm resolve.
I found all of Mr. Hughes’ remarks to be timely, insightful, and practical, especially given the current state of change in the law library market. Being able to effectively negotiate the successful completion of proposed projects, while also building ones sphere of bankable influence, are not outcomes to be lightly dismissed. And the prospect of enhancing ones law library career, in an age when accountability has become the byword, is extremely encouraging.
In closing his presentation, Mr. Hughes expressed a great desire to continue his collaboration with the legal education community, so I would highly encourage contacting him whenever his skills may be compatible with your organization’s continuing education goals. I don’t believe you’ll be disappointed.
Image credit: http://www.hityourstride.com/index.php?section=3