Disagreements and conflicts happen. They may be between supervisor and student, or within a research group (e.g., between a student and staff member, or between students). They can be destructive and cause significant distress for both parties, particularly if not addressed promptly.
Should a disagreement arise between you and a staff member, another student, or your supervisor, we would encourage you to sit down with that individual to discuss the matter in a non-judgmental and calm fashion. If you cannot resolve the problem, you should follow these steps:
- Contact the Graduate Education Committee Chair to meet with all parties involved to explore solutions.
- If that does not result in resolution of the problem, you should contact the Student OmbudsService to help act as a professional impartial third party. Please refer to the Student OmbudService website, call them at (780) 492-4689 or email email@example.com.
Regardless of the method you choose, the following principles of conflict resolution should be considered (taken from the Student OmbudService website)
- Address the conflict early, before it becomes much more complex;
- Separate the person from the problem;
- Use your discretion when deciding who to tell about the conflict. Not everyone needs to know;
- Focus on interests rather than clinging to your position;
- Commit to finding a mutually beneficial outcome – work toward win-win solutions;
- Avoid blaming others; you are each responsible for your own behaviour;
- Listen actively; genuinely try to understand the other person’s perspective;
- Validate what he or she is communicating to you;
- Work on letting go of resentments – they can only impede the process;
- Keep the lines of communication open; and
- Focus on the future.
You may find that the Department of Medicine’s document “Working with Respect” is useful to you.
Jayson MacLean, PhD
5-02 Students’ Union Building