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Faculty-To-Faculty Interpersonal Support and Conflict Resolution

The academic setting demands heavy collaboration with varying personalities and philosophies, which can be challenging and sometimes disruptive. During struggling economic climates, administrative priorities may shift leading to uncomfortable accommodations. Under these and other circumstances, conflict can easily arise. With the appropriate tools, resources, and strategies, faculty-to-faculty conflict mediation and resolution can be achieved (Pearson).
How Should I Manage Conflict Within My Department? (Cipriano and Buller, 2013)

1. Stop the name calling (Waggoner, 2005)
Re-evaluate your assumptions about your colleague to invoke more compassion towards them. If you label someone negatively, your thinking skews your observations to reinforce that label.

2. Use rational detachment (Waggoner, 2005)
Stay calm, in control of yourself, and professional in trying moments. Resist taking comments about your “appearance, race, gender, or competence” personally (Waggoner, 2005). Hurtful comments say more about the people saying them than about the people towards whom they are directed.

3. Use cognitive restructuring (Waggoner, 2005)
Tell yourself your colleagues’ suggestions are well intentioned. This will encourage you to actively listen to those suggestions to find the silver lining.

4. Choose your battles (Waggoner, 2005)
Carefully consider the importance of the issue in each interaction before engaging in an argument. A “cooling-off period” may be necessary for everyone to think of issues differently (Waggoner, 2005).

5. Smile and laugh (Waggoner, 2005)
Laughing and smiling keeps interactions light and friendly helping to smooth over some rough spots in your negotiations.

6. Celebrate your successes (Waggoner, 2005)
Acknowledge and use successful interactions to build positive relations with difficult colleagues to make future interactions easier.

SIUe Campus Resources

SIUe Ombuds
“The Faculty Ombuds are available to serve as neutral listeners, information sources, and intermediaries in informal dispute resolution. They provide a comfortable, confidential, and impartial environment in which to discuss problems and concerns” (Faculty Senate, 2016).


Cipriano, R. and Buller, J. L. (2013). Magna 20 minute mentor: How should I manage conflict within my department? [video file]. Magna Publications. Retrieved from
The Faculty Senate. (2016). Faculty ombuds. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Retrieved from
Pearson, S. Can we agree to disagree? Faculty-faculty conflict. University of New Mexico Ombuds/Dispute Resolution Services for Faculty. Retrieved from
Waggoner, J. (August 2005). When colleagues are brats. Academic Calendar, 21(8), 3 & 5. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/slau/Downloads/How-Should-I-Manage-Conflict-Within-My-Department-20-Min-Supplemental%20(2).pdf

Additional Resources

Mending the Cracks in the Ivory Tower: Strategies for Conflict Management in Higher Education
Book by Susan A. Holton
Can We Agree to Disagree? Faculty-Faculty Conflict
Article on strategies for conflict management based on a chapter in “Mending the Cracks in the Ivory Tower”
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