Nicole Abraham 2020 Q&A: Communication, Conflict, and Others

[Note: In total, there will be 6 Q&A posts to cover all of the topics brought up during the user-submitted Q&A period. The candidates were limited to 300 words to answer each question, but they were allowed to rearrange and combine questions within a single post to more clearly express their thoughts. Candidate answers represent only the views of the individual candidate and are not endorsed by the OTW.

Due to a high volume of similar questions this year, many questions were merged and duplicate questions were left out. Other than this, questions appear in the form they were submitted. Questions represent only the views of the individual questioner and are not endorsed by the OTW.]

In terms of person to person communication, what would you say is your best quality?

When communicating with others, I always do my best to be friendly, open, and ready to listen to anything they have to say. I believe it’s incredibly important to approach conversations with an open mind and to understand that others often have insights that I may not have considered. My goal is that regardless of what is discussed, people I talk to are able to walk away from the conversation feeling heard.

Can you talk about a time that something about your work style or communication style caused problems in your professional life? What did you do to handle those problems or prevent them from recurring in the future?

When working on a project, I can sometimes try to do more than was originally needed as I think of additions that could be useful in an attempt to include everything anyone could possibly want. However, this has led me to spend more time on a particular project than I should have, time that could have been better spent completing other tasks in my team’s work queue. To avoid this in the future, I’ve learned to make sure I clearly understand both the project requirements and the reasoning behind them before starting work so that I can provide an acceptable product as quickly as possible while also ensuring I have the time needed to complete additional work.

Can you describe a time when you made a decision you regretted (removing identifying info, of course) and how you sought to make it right afterwards?

A situation I’ve been in before and regret was when I overestimated my time and ability when setting goals for a research project. Once I realised that it was likely more work than I could reasonably complete within the time I had given myself, I reevaluated my capabilities and tasks to prioritise and create a more feasible timeline. This included reducing what I planned to accomplish by creating fewer dynamic examples for my presentation and focusing on the avenues that were most relevant to the project rather than any which seemed interesting. I also reached out to my project leader, who helped me understand an area I was struggling with. This experience has helped me understand where my limits are so I can avoid overextending myself in the future. Additionally, it reinforced the importance of collaboration and asking for help when needed. We are all constantly learning new things, and working with each other can only make the OTW stronger.

How do you approach conflicts involving you in the OTW or other professional settings? Can you talk about a time that you resolved a conflict that you had with a fellow OTW volunteer or a colleague? What happened, and what you learned from them? [merged question]

How would you describe your current relationship with your committee chairs, and OTW leadership at large? Have you encountered any issues in the past, and how have you handled these? Do you imagine your interactions would change should you be elected to the Board?

I’m happy to say that I have a pleasant working relationship with all of the chairs I’ve worked with. I hold an immense amount of respect for all of the time and effort that OTW leadership contributes to ensuring we remain running smoothly and are in a constant state of improvement. As a member of the Board, I would continue to hold the opinions and knowledge of chairs in high regard, as they are the ones who know their committee and its strengths and limitations best. I hope to have the chance to collaborate with and learn from our committee chairs more in the future.

Thankfully, I’ve had very few conflicts with other OTW volunteers so this was a challenge to find an example for. In general, I find it best to approach all conflicts and conversations with an open mind, and be ready to listen and truly consider what the other person has to say. Often they have different background knowledge, and they may bring up relevant points that I had not yet considered. In one such case, someone had doubts about the feasibility of a project I was working on. Instead of ignoring what they had to say or abandoning the project, I approached them and we worked together to make sure their concerns were addressed before moving forward, and the project was better for it.

With the outside world increasingly bananas, how will you balance your Board duties with your other commitments/jobs?

I’m lucky enough to be in a fairly stable position at the moment, particularly as my job allows me to work from home. I’ve developed fairly good time management skills in both my professional life and from my time working in the OTW, and I know I’ll be able to adapt even as the situation of the world around us is in constant motion. Additionally, as mentioned in my platform, I’ve recently left leadership positions in non-OTW organizations and have found myself with quite a bit more free time that could be devoted to Board duties. My volunteer work for the OTW has always been a priority in my life, and I am happy to make more time for it if needed.

Can the candidates share the LEAST popular fandom that they like? Feel free to rate or explain the popularity in one’s own way.

The smallest fandom I’m in at the moment is probably for the musicals written by Team Starkid. I found their work “A Very Potter Musical” years ago, and fell in love with the creative spins they put on traditional fandoms and tropes. It’s been incredibly exciting to watch the number of fanworks inspired by their musicals grow on AO3 over the past few years, and I highly encourage anyone interested to check them out.

Now that you’re running together, what would you say are the nicest things you learned about each of your fellow candidates?

It has always been my impression that Alex is very efficient. Alex is prepared to make the hard decisions and to stand up and push for anything that would be valuable to the OTW. Additionally, Alex has experience as a former member of the OTW Board of Directors to draw upon.

Jess and I have started talking quite a bit more during this election, and she is a wonderfully friendly person. During our time together in Policy & Abuse, she was always very easy to work with and a pleasure to talk to. Jess is very flexible and listens to and learns from others.

Kati has always been willing to dive into projects head first and make sure she sees them through to the end, even if she has to go above and beyond to complete them. She has strong project management skills and encourages collaboration.

I am glad to count Zoë as a friend. She is great at communicating with others and always considers what she says so that she is understood clearly. She is a hard worker, works well in collaborative situations, and does her best to foster a community and create relationships with everyone she works with.

It has been a great experience running with all of the other candidates and, if given the chance, I look forward to working with whoever is elected.