Zoë Tucker 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?

A natural strength of mine that I try to foster is a desire to understand the perspective of those I engage with. Fundamentally, I believe that every person has a rich internal landscape, and I try to look past what I might be disagreeing about with someone in a given moment to see their value as a human being. Refocusing my perspective helps me to be more patient and understanding. Almost any two people can have a successful working relationship if both parties are interacting in good faith.

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?

I have a tendency to get too wrapped up in the intricacies of an issue instead of remaining focused on solutions. At some point I need to stop getting lost in the specifics of a problem and decide on a course of action. What is sometimes called meticulous in my work style can quickly become obsessive and paralyzing. The solution I have found is to make sure I understand the parameters of my work and exactly how precise, accurate, or long-lasting the results of my work need to be. Once I’ve identified the purpose and scope of my project, it helps me to focus on getting to the end product instead of the factors that make my work more complicated.

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?

I have trouble keeping track of how long it’s been since I said I would do something. There have been several situations in which I wish I could go back and not sign up to do something by a certain date, and I regret several times in my life making someone wait because it seems like it’s been a few days and it has actually been a month. There is no real way to make up for having not completed something in the time allotted for it and slowing everyone down, but I have done my best to try and prevent future similar incidents. I now work to make sure that even social commitments are added to my calendar, both physically in my planner and in my phone to get alerts. It is my goal to be continuously improving my time management skills.

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]

I’ve always been impressed with the collaborative spirit of the OTW (Organization for Transformative Works), which has translated into a healthier space more likely to successfully negotiate resolutions to disputes than my other professional spaces. I haven’t experienced any deep conflicts in the OTW that needed more resolution than some time to cool down and some communication with others about why they are making a given decision/are reacting a certain way to a situation. Sometimes what needs to change is my own mindset, and other times I do feel it’s appropriate to ask someone to reassess the way they present their ideas in the future. For instance, when I was upset over a policy that I found frustrating, my chairs took the time to have a thoughtful conversation with me, discussing the reasoning behind the policy in its current form without discounting my experience. I have learned that in situations like these, my frustration is alleviated by the knowledge that what I was worried about has been considered by decision makers previously.

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 have strong working relationships with my own committee chairs, and also consider myself friends with them. I haven’t had the opportunity to work with all the committee chairs and Board members in the OTW, but I have at minimum a social relationship with the majority of our leadership, and feel comfortable approaching everyone if I do so tactfully and with the understanding that they will understand more than I do about their own work. The problems I have encountered have involved not having enough hands to get all desired work done, and the solution to that is often to help find more people to work on a particular project, usually starting with myself. If anything, I think my interactions with leadership will be stronger if I were to be elected to the Board, as it will give me insight into the perspective of our leadership.

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

I started working in the OTW during a time when I was very busy, and got used to doing bits and pieces of work in small slots of free time during my days and evenings. Thus, in some ways, the outside world being bananas means I have more time! Social distancing means I have less lab and instrument time, so I’m at home more with more access to my computer, and more time to dedicate to my OTW work. I look forward to using this abundance of time as best I can, while the opportunity allows.

In the coming years, as my time starts being filled again, I will slot my OTW responsibilities back into my schedule as it forms. If I find that I start having issues with keeping up with everything, I can dial back my committee-specific work. I consider my work with the OTW to be a priority and will make time for it as my schedule changes.

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

One very small fandom I enjoy is The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman! It only has a few dozen works on the Archive of Our Own and is just under “Misc. Books” on fanfiction.net. It’s a book series where basically the three most powerful forces in the multiverse are dragons, the fae, and librarians, so I’m a fan.

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

Alex is efficient and gets things done. They are not afraid to be the one to throw a wrench in the works if they think something’s going down the wrong track.

Jess is flexible and adaptable. She’s willing to calibrate her approach to match the needs of any group she’s in.

Kati is meticulous and cares about getting things done right the first time in order to best serve the interests of the group at large.

Nicole is a good communicator and organizer of people, and is willing and capable of putting in the long hours of hard work that is often necessary. (She also has a very cute dog!)

I enjoyed running together with our group, and I would be pleased to see any of them elected!