Seven steps to lab harmony

By Kerry Grens

1. Be aware

"I think the single most important thing a lab director can do is be cognizant of these issues," says Carl Cohen, president of Science Management Associates. Ignoring conflict in the lab can allow situations to spiral out of control. Stay in tune with the interpersonal dynamics and recognize when you are needed to step in.

2. Confront conflict

When it's time to step in, be direct and honest. "If you've got something constructively critical to tell somebody, tell them directly, clearly: This is not acceptable. Tell them you're happy to work with them to change, and here are suggestions for change," says Ed O'Neil at the University of California, San Francisco. Do not embarrass or humiliate anyone by reprimanding...

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