Published: Nov. 8, 2019

Whether it’s a grade on an assignment or a point made in a class discussion, there are times when students and professors can disagree. Many people think conflicts such as these are a negative thing, but working through disagreements can lead to growth, understanding and ongoing learning. And conflict is normal—even when it’s between students and faculty or staff.

Here are three tips for handling disagreements with professors.  

Professor teaching classTalk in person

If you disagree or have conflict with a professor, it can be tempting to email them with your concerns. However, written communication such as emails can often be misinterpreted because they lack the context of tone and body language. Often, trying to navigate conflict over email can come across as more hostile or harsh than you intend to be.

Instead, consider using email as a way to set up a time to speak in person or on the phone.

Keep an open mind

When you are speaking with your professor, be open to hearing their point of view and understanding of the issue. For example, you may be convinced your grade on an assignment should be higher. When talking with your professor, be open to receiving feedback about why they gave you that grade and explore ways you could receive a higher grade on future assignments.

Ask for help

Sometimes it helps to practice a conversation with a friend or family member before addressing the conflict. Additionally, learning about your conflict style can help when it comes to moving beyond disagreements; take the conflict style quiz to learn more.

If you want help preparing for a conversation with a professor, you can schedule a free Conflict Coaching session by emailing conflictresolution@colorado.edu, or visit Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution for more resources.