40 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 291 2017 how colleagues communicate ultimately affects the quality of service and work the library collectively gives to its community. Viewing conversations as moving beyond telling to creating more interactive interpersonal sharing and responses, the appropriate metaphor would be guiding a small boat through rough seas, where the skilled sailor responds to the push of each oncoming wave and each burst of wind, coordinating her actions skillfully with the actions of the environment in which she finds herself. To succeed, she must work with the environment, and make her actions part of its actions. A conversation represents a similar kind of environment. It is a context that must be travelled and negotiated with a constant sensitivity to the ebbs and flows of the interaction, and where one must constantly adjust one’s communication behaviors to successfully make that journey.6 This analogy addresses an agent interacting with external forces and emphasizes that the surroundings and context are not personal. In thinking about and practicing this participatory, mindful communicative strategy, it is helpful to consider the communication patterns used: “successful communication is not about changing the psychology of another person. It is not about using strategies to get what you want. It is not about controlling the responses of another person in ways that benefit the sender. It is about creating communicative conditions in which change becomes possible.”7 Internally, liaison and special collections librarians and archivists must see what they do as a cohesive, unified effort focused on meeting users where they are, partnering in their work. Librarians need to learn how to nurture interactive, dynamic conversations with each other in order to facilitate true collaboration. Organizational Culture and Structure Recognizing and valuing differences and strengths offer insights into the identity and organizational culture of the library. Within the library
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