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Creating Positive Collegial Relationships

Managing Interpersonal Conflict

Excerpts from the podcast via iTunes or StitcherSmartRadio

Few things in life are more complex than our interactions with each other.

These are the topics that we would like to avoid in our professional career, but alas there’s no avoiding them.

Interpersonal Conflict

We define this as a situation with an individual you are not getting along with.
It can mean that you and the other person see each other often and the interactions are not pleasant.

How can we deal with these conflicts?

  • An important dynamic with these situations is where the players fit into the organizational chart.
    • If a person is working for me, the dynamic unfolds in one way.
    • If I am working for the person, the dynamic unfolds in a different way because they assess my work performance.
    • If I am in conflict with a peer, the dynamic is different too.
  • In reality, we don’t get to pick, choose, or predict who the conflict will be with.
  • When you sense that a relationship might be going sour, it’s wise to make a mental note so that you are not blind-sided in the future.
  • Just because a first encounter with a person goes poorly, it doesn’t mean the rest can’t be positive.
  • If possible, avoidance of the person might be the best approach.

Direct, open, honest, in–person communication will often diffuse an interpersonal conflict.

What happens though, in spite of all your efforts, when the situation continues, the interpersonal conflict is inappropriate and is beginning to make your life at work less enjoyable?

  • “Inappropriate” is the key word in that question. Inappropriate, in our mind may not equate to inappropriate in the mind of your human resources specialist.
  • If there is an element of danger, threat, or even a hint of something inappropriate in a sexual way, then you are at a new level of conflict and it is time to seek out your human resources specialist or a mediator.

Nota Bene:  Colleges and universities have incredibly long memories. Do not go out of your way to interact with individuals where you know the interpersonal conflict is going to be there. Because, people stay at colleges and universities for a long time and they have long memories about situations like this. Your actions in these situations will be with you for as long as you work at the institution.

Conflict with professional disagreements.

In a university environment, this is to be expected!
We are a diverse group of educated individuals who are asked to form and support an opinion.

Our advice:  Do not allow these disagreements to develop into interpersonal conflicts.

Professional conflict doesn’t have to turn into interpersonal conflict.

Sometimes people just need to be heard. Allow them to talk and share their opinions.
Whoever speaks the most wins? No, that’s not how things work out for the best.
Try not to let these things get under your skin, it’s a much happier way to live.

Political differences, at our expense.

This is the person with a personal agenda who has a desire to achieve something politically and you may not be in that picture.

You are looking at being:

  • Out.
  • On your way out.
  • Collateral damage.

How do we deal with highly political figures in our college?

  • Stay out of the way when possible. A.K.A.: Dodging the bullet.
  • Develop a good radar and a sense of who has a political agenda. A.K.A. Matthew 10:16  “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
  • Sometimes people with a political agenda can self destruct on the way up.
  • We can’t control the universe!
  • Political disagreement doesn’t have to turn into personal conflict.


Please, keep things professional. Never, ever, ever make the conflict personal.


We welcome your feedback to our work.

Email:  General Information   |   Dr. Daniel de Roulet   |   Prof. David C. Pecoraro

Thank you!

Daniel & David

Managing Interpersonal Conflict

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Managing Interpersonal Conflict