FAQs and Resources
Most people really want to agree and get along; they are usually just as surprised and uncomfortable by disagreements as the party with whom they are disagreeing.
Conflict is as natural as the rain. It's periodic presence should not surprise us any more than a rain shower would when the conditions are right. (Author unknown)
Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way--that is not easy.
It takes courage and humility to seek a peaceful resolution to any conflict. We must be brave enough to honestly share our own perspective and humble enough to genuinely try to understand and accept an alternative perspective.
At the foundation of every nearly conflict is an unmet need or the fear of a need going unmet.
No two people will hold exactly the same perspective of any event, fact, situation or value. Differences can be shared, explored, revised, reinterpreted, bridged, accepted and/or surmounted.
In most cases, it is not the objective conflict that becomes our undoing; it is our response to the perceived conflict. Our individual response can determine whether any difference of opinion, fact, values or resources will lead us to manifest conflict, joint resolution, conciliation, or an all-out war.
* The original sources of the information above is unknown. It is provided here solely to help the reader better appreciate the nature of human conflict and is not for re-publication.
How we respond to our own emotions affects our capacity to hear, understand and respond to others. They can lead us to understanding and learning or blind us. Conflict can trigger negative emotions; resolving conflict can result in positive emotions.
People can be uncomfortable when expressing or listening to strong feelings
- It is difficult to express emotions constructively
- People can be unsure how to respond
- People fear losing control
- Slow down
- Manage your own emotions first
- Remember the importance of timing, tone and tact
- Describe your feelings; don’t act them out
- Listen for the other party’s feelings and acknowledge them
- Accept each others' feelings (arguing about feelings is unproductive and escalates conflict)
- Set limits for behavior (safety and well-being always come first)
- Request timeout, if needed, to allow for regrouping emotionally and for reflection. Set a mutually acceptable time to return to the discussion (and follow through)
- Ask for help (there are times when certain concerns, working relationships, previous experiences, and personal limitations may call for a neutral party)
- They are not normal
- They should be ignored
- They are a sign of weakness or irrationality
- They can’t be controlled
- They are not proper in the workplace
- They are natural to all people and present in all relationships
- They impact our perception of communications, actions, facts, motives and attributions
- They can impact our behavior and choices
- hey are expressed differently by each person. (e.g. issues, timing, directness, behaviors, intensity, and duration)
- Be unconditionally constructive
- Treat each person with respect
- Use courteous language
- Control volume
- Share air time; do not interrupt or engage in over-speak
- Remain seated
- Be forward-looking
- Separate the person from the problem
- Listen for understanding, speak to be understood
- Check out assumptions
- Speak for yourself and what is true for you
- Be prepared to accept multiple perspectives
- Work towards mutual understanding
- Participate in good-faith
- Aim for understanding
- Be prepared to apologize and/or forgive
Parties in a dispute can generally find the best solutions to their problem.
All parties in conflict have interests and needs that are important to them.
The best solutions should meet the most important interests of all parties.
Conflicts may involve compatible interests and needs as well as conflicting ones.
There are usually more than one acceptable solution to a problem.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, an ombuds does not serve as an advocate for any party. Rather, the ombuds helps facilitate communication between parties. The ombuds will inform parties about additional campus resources.
Confidential means that your contact with the Ombuds Office or an ombuds, and the content of your conversations, will not be disclosed to any other party without your consent and the consent of the ombuds. We assert that confidentiality is the privilege of the ombuds and cannot be waived by any party without the consent of the ombuds.
There are limits to confidentiality. Confidentiality may not be maintained in the event that an ombuds is told about the intent of an individual to harm him/herself or another person, and as otherwise required by law.
Please note: Electronic mail should not be used to communicate confidential or sensitive information.
No. the Ombuds Office is a confidential and informal office. Speaking with an ombuds or sending communication to an ombuds does not constitute notice to the university. The ombuds does not create or retain records or identifiable documents. Working notes, if used, are destroyed when they are no longer necessary to assist with problem resolution. The ombuds will not provide testimony in any formal process, unless otherwise ordered by a court of law.
Impartial means that the ombuds does not favor any side, position, or person in a misunderstanding or dispute. An ombuds does not act, advise, represent or advocate on behalf of any party. An ombuds is an advocate of justice and seeks fairness while working within existing policies and procedures. If an ombuds feels that he/she cannot be impartial or may not be perceived as impartial in any situation, the ombuds will inform the parties to a concern and may recuse him or herself from further participation.
Informal means that your concerns will be addressed "off the record" and not through official channels or procedures. This allows you to freely explore your concerns and consider options privately. It supports the practice of collaborative problem solving.
For many problems, the informal approach of working with an ombuds is highly effective and leads to satisfying outcomes. However, should you decide your concern warrants a different approach, all formal procedures ordinarily available to you remain available.
Note: Contacting an ombuds or the Ombuds Office does not constitute notice to the university. Time requirements for filing formal complaints remain in effect.
You may contact the Ombuds Office regarding any university-related issue; however, some issues have defined procedures or other designated offices established to address them. The ombuds will let you know if he/she is able to assist you with your concern and will refer you to a more appropriate office, if necessary.
- Performance expectations, position descriptions
- Interpersonal or personality conflicts
- Graduate committee function
- Course assignments
- Promotion and tenure
- Groups and team functioning
- Working conditions
- Workstudy assignments and relationships
- Wages and salary
- Housing issues
- Exam procedures
- Respect, fairness and trust issues
- Health and safety concerns
- Ethical concerns
- Management and leadership concerns
No. The ombuds is not a legal expert. An ombuds will assist you with exploring your concerns, identifying, accessing and clarifying relevant university policies and procedures, and generating solutions options. If you have legal questions or need a legal opinion, you should consult with your attorney. It is important to let the ombuds know if you are working with an attorney.
Yes. You may call the Ombuds Office or contact the ombuds by phone (208) 885-7668 or email. While many concerns can be addressed by telephone, if necessary, an ombuds will arrange to meet with you at your work location. The ombuds is available by Skype videocall at: uiombuds. This free video service is often very helpful and allows you to discuss issues face to face with an ombuds.