PSEL: Conflict Resolution for the Long Term

The longest place I have lived in my entire life is State College, but I didn’t actually come here until my early 30s. Before that, the longest I ever lived in one place was in Boston…for grad school. Before that I lived in Ithaca, Indiana, Baltimore and different places in Maryland (usually 3-4 years tops).

Some people who move around a lot learn to fit in quickly, but I had the opposite reaction as an introvert. Other than family, I think I tended to regard school mates and teachers somewhat as passing strangers who would be departing sooner or later. While I tried to be as polite as possible, I think I felt like a difference of opinion was something that could be tolerated until I left town again.

A huge adjustment for me at Penn State was the realization that unless I wanted to uproot myself yet again, I would be dealing with the same set of people for a really, really long time. Even people who left my work unit would pop up somewhere else at Penn State or around town. For the most part, if I had a conflict, I could no longer assume that I could avoid it until we parted ways. I finally realized that I need to make an attempt to forge more permanent relationships, and part of that included working through conflicts in a more honest (and often humorous) way.

Old habits are hard to break though, so this is always a work in progress and I still make lots of errors. But I am happy when I am able to resolve a conflict in the long term. Not only am I learning more “leadership”, but I am feeling more connected to the community.

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