Conflicts Between an Advisor and an Advisee
social relationship, particularly one as important as the
Advisor-Advisee one, is bound to result in conflict sometimes.
Rather than throw up our hands in angst at these disagreements, we ought
to model respectful, purposeful discussion in order to try to negotiate
are many ways to resolve such conflicts but each are grounded in careful
conversation. We particularly like the notion of "principled
negotiation," a four-part strategy. Below, we paraphrase
career consultant Peter Fiske's discussion of principled negotiation, a
concept originally found in Fisher and Ury's
Getting to Yes.
four parts to principled negotiation are:
Separating the People from the Problem
Frequently, disagreements occur not simply because there is a
difference in opinion, but also because there is also a
difference in style between the Advisor and the Advisee.
In order to facility communication, care should be taken to let
each party speak and then parse which elements are issue-based
and which are personality-based.
Focusing on Interests, not Positions
- It is
important to realize that Advisors and Advisees may actually
share common interests even if their stated positions seem
diametrically opposed. Ask for the reasons behind the
positions which are taken; you may find a shared interest
for Mutual Gain
- When a
conflict occurs between an Advisee and an Advisor, it often
demands a clear understanding not simply of what will "solve the
problem," but of where the problem arose in the first place.
As Fiske puts it: "to develop...options [for mutually
analyzing what is wrong, what the causes are, and what the
possible actions are." Doing so will present the full
train of thought rather than just the moment of conflict itself.
Using Objective Criteria
- One thing
that may become obvious in your conversations is that either the
Advisor or the Advisee is acting idiosyncratically. By
drawing upon common understandings -- either what other advisors
or students are doing, what departments recommend, or what
Monmouth College itself decrees appropriate -- you both may have
recourse to common and objective criteria to help settle the
Fiske, Peter. "Dysfunctional
Advisee-Advisor Relationships: Methods for Negotiating Beyond Conflict."
for_negotiating_beyond_conflict. April 24, 1998.