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Navigating Turbulent Waters: How to Address Conflict throughout Your Career

2019 Education–Career Development Session



Chairperson(s): Manushree Bharadwaj, NIEHS, Research Triangle Park, NC; and Brita Kilburg-Basnyat, Covance Inc., Madison, WI.

Primary Endorser: Postdoctoral Assembly

Other Endorser(s): Career Resource and Development Committee; Graduate Student Leadership Committee

In science-based work environments, it can be difficult to navigate personality differences, differing opinions on research directions, project responsibilities, and other work-related situations. Addressing these situations head-on—especially in work environments structured around a rigid hierarchy—can be intimidating to graduate students, postdoctoral trainees, and scientists at all career levels. This session focuses on how to manage and overcome conflict in the workplace to achieve a favorable outcome for all. Throughout this session, attendees will gain insight into how to approach these difficult situations successfully through proper communication, problem-solving, and conflict resolution techniques. To achieve this, we have identified successful leaders from diverse backgrounds, career stages, and workplace environments to discuss the dynamics of the workplace and the skills for navigating challenging situations and coworkers. The session will focus on (1) civil skepticism and fair fighting in the workplace and how to disagree with grace; (2) how to overcome recurring negative judgments and feelings in scientific relationships, in both academia and other scientific organizations; (3) struggles when working with teams or groups; and (4) the importance of providing constructive feedback. These interactive presentations will not only include examples from the presenters’ professional careers, but also present hypothetical situations and discuss appropriate responses to resolve these workplace conflicts and manage tough conversations at all career levels. Thus, these presentations will be highly relevant to all student and postdoctoral attendees that want to improve their conflict management skills, as well as managers, PIs, Directors, and others who regularly interact with and manage a team. This session will enable the audience to learn and implement an essential skill set that will improve professional relationships throughout their careers.


Navigating Turbulent Waters: How to Address Conflict throughout Your Career. M. Bharadwaj. NIEHS, Research Triangle Park, NC.

Civil Skepticism and Fair Fighting. M. M. Mitchell. The Mitchell Organization, Seattle, WA. Sponsor: M. Bharadwaj

De-energizing Relationships in Academia and Science and How to Manage Them. D. Dolinoy. University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI.

Managing Workplace Relationships by Setting Clear Expectations. J. Henkin. STEM Career Services, Washington, DC. Sponsor: M. Bharadwaj

Giving Effective Feedback: Tips for Telling the “Good” or “Bad.” T. Collins. NIEHS, Research Triangle Park, NC. Sponsor: M. Bharadwaj