Defining Conflict and How You Can Address It
What is Conflict?
Conflict is simply a difference of opinions. Conflicts in the workplace are inevitable, and, when handled positively, serve as a starting point for creative problem solving, reasonable decisions, and healthy relationships.
Not all conflict requires a top-down approach or intervention. In most cases, the first steps to successfully settling differences should be taken by the people involved.
What resources are available to help?
Steps to help you prepare for and conduct a positive conflict conversation.
CWU's Employee Assistance Program offers confidential counseling and guidance for handling conflict.
CLA Online provides courses, videos, and books on the topic of Conflict Resolution.
DES offers a variety of instructor-led workshops on topics such as conflict management and crucial conversations. To learn more, visit the DES Available Training page.
Do you need to involve others?
The following questions will help you determine who else needs to be involved in resolving conflict.
- Have you tried to resolve the conflict on your own and still need help?
The next step is to involve your supervisor. Your supervisor may be able to help facilitate the conversation. Your supervisor can help you identify the source of the conflict, determine possible solutions and adhere to agreed-upon next steps.
- What if the conflict is between me and my supervisor?
CWU’s Employee Assistance Program offers confidential counseling and guidance for handling conflict. Visit the EAP webpage to learn more.
Human Resources Partners are also available to meet with you to discuss appropriate next steps if you are have unresolved conflict with your supervisor. Contact (509) 963-1202 to be connected with an HR Partner.
- What if one of the people involved is a union member?
If one of the staff involved is in a CWU union, you may need to involve Labor Relations or a union representative:
- What if I feel that I am being discriminated against?
If you believe you or someone else is being discriminated against, please contact Human Resources.
- What if the situation involves faculty performance or misconduct?
Please contact Faculty Relations.
- What if the situation involves student misconduct, academic, and/or personal issues?
Please contact Student Success.
- What if I need to hire an outside mediator?
For conflicts that require more in-depth mediation, HR has a standing contract with Philip Mediation. To initiate the process, connect with an HR Partner, (509) 963-1202.
- What if the situation involves a potential conflict of interest?
If you suspect the situation involves a potential conflict of interest, reach out to the CWU Internal Auditor.
- What if the conflict involves a potential ethics violation?
If you suspect the situation involves a potential ethics violation, reach out to CWU's Ethics Advisor or the Washington State Executive Ethics Board.
"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." - Albert Einstein
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