I am a new faculty and I have serious conflicts with my chair because she has taken two of my grant proposals (putting herself as the PI) and a conference research proposal and tools I developed for my study (she put a senior faculty and herself as the first and the second author before me).

There is another new assistant professor in my department: she is American, but originally from a country in the Middle East. She comes to my office for a closed-door conversation once a week before meeting with the chair. Then she asks a list of questions regarding my situation and about other colleagues. Also, she asks me when I am going to leave this position.

At the beginning, I thought that she was my friend, as she seemed she cared about me. However, I realized that she reported my words to the chair because, for example, the chair brought to me what I said only to her as an issue and I heard what she said to the chair—it was what she asked to me—when I walked near the chair's office.

So I began to ignore her and phone calls. Also I do not smile when she comes to my office anymore. Also I told her indirectly "stop". However, even still today she came to my office again and kept asking questions again.

How can I make her stop doing that, smoothly and without any conflicts?

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    Don't tell her anything you wouldn't want repeated to the chair? – ff524 Sep 20 '17 at 2:42
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    Why does it matter where your colleague is from? – Dan Romik Sep 20 '17 at 2:53
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    to me is really clear... there is a person that wants him kicked out of department, I dont understand why is difficult to understand – SSimon Sep 20 '17 at 2:57
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    The background of the person is completely irrelevant, and the way you phrase it on your comment is far from appropriate (to say the least!) since you are (directly) hinting that the behavior is a byproduct of her background. – PsySp Sep 20 '17 at 19:06
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    Also I told her indirectly "stop". -- Have you tried telling her directly to stop? – JeffE Sep 20 '17 at 21:43

While I acknowledge that dealing with department chairs and other senior professors can occasionally be fraught because of the power differential, at the end of the day, you are all adults. Talk about things.

Behavior such as "not smile", "not want to talk", "I thought she was my friend", "ignore her and her phone calls" is not how adults behave. Adults sit down and tell each other things like this:

I'm happy to talk about these things, but I would really like it if that doesn't get to the chair.


I know you're my chair, but these are my research ideas and I think that I should publish them under my name so I can build up a portfolio that can get me through the tenure process.

The point being that you should communicate about issues as adults do. If you have an issue with someone, talk to them, explain them what you don't like, and propose solutions. "Not smiling" is not a solution -- it's a kindergarten approach.


You should consider posting this at the workplace, as your situation is not specific within the domain of academia.

With this said, having a colleague who isn't necessarily discreet isn't the end of the world. It is a formerly unknown variable whom has revealed their true colors. At the end of the day, you decide the direction of where your research will go. Remain professional and cordial in your dealings, there is no need to be impolite towards your colleagues, instead approach the conversation and steer it in such a way where if you are asked compromising question, laugh and say sorry but you don't feel comfortable answering that. In time, prepare to set sail for other harbors if you don't think your current institution isn't a good place for you.


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