Within the last 6 weeks I was a first-time attendee at two industry conferences in the field of scholarly publishing. Relatively new to my employer, though with over a decade of experiences in operations and client services, I felt a sense of optimism for meeting new people and learning new things alongside the usual apprehension about long days in back-to-back-to-back sessions, doubts about relevant content, and the potential mishaps of travel.
What actually transpired was an interesting convergence of perspectives. When I wasn’t learning about a new best practice, the efficacy of standards, or technological innovations, I was fascinated by the myriad of perspectives and variables that became apparent in our niche of the publishing world.
Was this by-product a surprise? Not really, but it’s also doesn’t get old for me. As a manager, I am committed to fostering the practice of self-awareness and striving for new levels of emotional intelligence for myself and in others. I found the conferences a perfect venue for applying patience, curiosity, listening, diplomacy, respect, and empathy to name just a few valuable traits.
On a basic level, the conference short courses, working sessions and keynote speeches provided an invaluable acceleration of my learning curve. Enriching my goal to learn as much as possible from a content standpoint, I was able to expand my knowledge of the work we do to areas we consider more peripheral, which, however, to our customers, are integral. Embracing the bigger picture of the scholarly publishing ecosystem connected the dots and helped me put into context the opportunities, challenges and competing priorities that sometimes make our industry feel like we’re operating in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment.
The voices of the presenters, facilitators, and audience, whether they agreed or respectfully disagreed, carried a common theme of striving for greater transparency, accountability, productivity and quality. Participants (including many of our customers) reiterated their expectations, expressed satisfaction and/or concerns and encouraged “us” (industry experts, vendors, publishers, editors, and others) to keep collaborating.
It’s fascinating to me the potential that exists when you set aside your subjectivity and open yourself to other perspectives. Imagine how many problems could be solved, how many solutions could be improved, how many relationships could be enhanced if we took the time to understand people’s interests rather than their positions.
What if we adopted this same mindset of actively seeking out other perspectives back at the office? What if we broke down our silos (within and beyond the office walls) and encouraged, appreciated and responded to perspective sharing?
Don’t wait for another conference season to deploy those interpersonal skills, gain additional context and relevance, and push the boundaries of your comfort zone!