Faculty Ombuds Representatives Provide Tips on How to Handle Conflict

Thursday, October 28, 2021

A Message from Ramon Velez-Cruz and Ann Heiny, Faculty Ombuds Representatives

Conflict can be unsettling or even scary for many people. It’s not unusual to avoid conflict and just hope it goes away, but rarely is that a strategy for a successful resolution. Often, workplace conflict can be resolved with some “front end” effort on your behalf.

As your Valencia faculty ombuds representatives, we offer the following tips — inspired by Valencia’s 13 Peace and Justice Initiative (PJI) Principles for How We Treat Each Other — to help you handle conflict in the workplace:

  • Practice grace and empathy. We’re all dealing with higher stress levels than usual, and we’re also re-acclimating to being together on campus, and our social skills may be a bit rusty. Treat your colleagues as you like to be treated. Becoming upset or being impolite when you encounter conflict will not resolve it, which may only complicate the real problems. Consider how you would like to be approached by someone who disagrees with you or would like you to change a behavior.
  • Clarify your thoughts: What outcomes do you want? Are there other suitable options, even if not your first choice?
  • Read carefully, including all information available to you through our Office of Organizational Development and Human Resources. No worries, we can help you find and interpret policies as needed.
  • Ask questions. If encountering a conflict with a colleague, ask open-ended questions to help you clarify the situation. Having this insight may help ease tensions.
  • Seek to understand. When asking clarifying questions, seek to comprehend and not to challenge.
  • Supervisor conflict. If having a conflict with a supervisor’s decision, determine if the conflict is based upon a policy or procedure. It may be helpful to ask your supervisor to identify the policies and procedures that informed the actions.

To learn more about our role as faculty ombuds, watch the video below:

When you contact one of us for support, keep the following tips in mind for our initial conversation:

  • Be organized and prepared. Be ready to tell your story and express your concerns. Have all the information and documentation (like summary notes or relevant emails) available that you may need in our conversation and write down your immediate questions.
  • Don’t be shy about reaching out for assistanceand don’t be afraid to ask questions. We’re here to serve you and help make your work environment positive and supportive.
  • For the conversation with us, it can be helpful to ask clarifying questions and be aware that there might be research and follow-up that needs to happen.

To connect with us individually, contact Ann at aheiny@valenciacollege.edu and Ramon at rvelez20@valenciacollege.edu.

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