What to Expect in a Meeting

The first thing I will do when I meet with you is take the time needed to get to know you a bit better.  It will be helpful to know about your background with the College, your department, and the people with whom you work.  I will explain how my role as a neutral and independent resource can benefit you.  I will commit to total confidentiality in our discussions and explain the  rare exception to that— those instances where there is risk of significant, imminent harm.

We’ll then get into the specific matter that is causing you concern.  I will ask you to describe the situation, giving you the time you need to explain it. 

Together we will explore the set of issues and challenges present in the situation.  For instance, a conflict with a colleague might have the following issues:

  • Differences in communication style and a sense of not “being heard”
  • A sense that neither party is fully respecting the other
  • Fears that confronting an issue may create further problems, or even retaliation
  • Lack of clarity in roles and expectations
  • Lots of emotions coming up that are difficult to sort out

Once we fully understand the important issues present, we will brainstorm about what can be done to address these issues.  While there are rarely easy solutions, there are almost always some actions that can help.  We will usually explore the specific goals you have in the situation.  Getting clearer about these can really help.  These steps alone can create a greater sense of optimism. 

In many instances, people seem to benefit most from our jointly developing a specific plan for a discussion they will have with one or more of the involved parties—their supervisor, for example, or department chair, or colleague. 

We may sometimes need more than one meeting to get through all this, and it’s not uncommon for me to meet several times with someone.  I am available to take whatever time is needed to help you get to a place where you feel more ready and confident.

What Not to Expect in a Meeting

What should you not expect when we meet? Though I make every effort to support you in our discussions, there are some actions that I cannot take in response to our meeting:

  • I don’t conduct investigations. Any matter requiring investigation should be brought to human resources or other formal channels at the College.
  • It is not part of my role to make policy. There may be times, however, when I might suggest that the College consider a different approach to a policy.
  • Meeting with me is an informal activity. I don’t participate in formal processes such as grievance procedures or legal matters.
  • I do not provide legal advice. 
  • I will not breach confidentiality, except in very rare situations involving threat of imminent harm.  I will explain these exceptions in my first meeting with you.  If you and I agree it would be good for me to speak with another party, then I would do so on a strictly need-to-know basis.

We practice according to the standards set by the International Ombudsman Association (IOA). Specifically, we adhere to the IOA Code of Ethics and IOA Standards of Practice. The IOA is the largest international organization of organizational ombuds practitioners in the world.