Would you rather…
Posted by lpearle on 16 July 2014
At sit down dinner, the teacher who sits at “my” table on Thursday uses this game to keep conversation flowing. I’ve never done that, but I have been thinking about this question for a few years now:
Would you rather be liked, or respected (professionally)?
Here’s what triggered the thoughts: a few years ago I was at a gathering of work colleagues and suggested a resource to one of them. She mentioned that I was doing a great job reaching out to the faculty and recommending resources, doing reader’s advisory, etc. and that while they (the faculty) all liked the previous librarian, she’d never done that. I flippantly said that I’d rather be professionally respected than liked.
Over the years, that comment has stayed with me and I’ve pondered if, in fact, I’d rather. In my many work experiences, I’ve worked for and with people I’ve liked and respected, but it’s been few and far between that I’ve done both. That’s particularly true for administrators, in part because it’s difficult to be in that employee/administrator dynamic and actually develop enough of a relationship to like them on a personal level; having said that, there are a number of administrators I’ve worked with that I’ve liked professionally. There are a few that I’ve become friends with, but the respect isn’t always twinned. At this stage in my career, I’d guess that I do command a certain amount of respect, and there are a few that like me (really like me, not just professionally like me). Do they do both? Hard to say. I’d rather have both, but if I can’t have that I’m still unsure which I’d rather…
I’ve also thought about which I’d rather with respect to students. A number of my professional friends (and I) have followed librarians who have been institutions: they’ve been at their school for decades, sometimes working with literal generations of students (my high school librarian retired after 30+ years and had both my classmates and my classmates’ daughters under her care). Are they truly beloved, a la Mr. Chips or William Hundert, or are they simply part of the institutional fabric? And how do you follow that person successfully, particularly if you don’t know the answer? What relationship would you rather have with the students: one of respect, or one of friendship? Can you have both?
At the end of my first year at Porter’s, this is what I’m reflecting on personally. Professional reflections to follow….