Living with roommates is tough. Everybody is raised differently and personalities can often rub up against one another. Your roommate might not be your best friend, and that’s okay! The important thing is to make sure you can respect one another and live together peacefully. We’ve compiled some tips for roommates who need to resolve conflict, and we also have some tips for RAs who are struggling to help their residents.
Her Campus has some great tips:
- Communicate! This is way easier said than done, but open communication is super important. It’s best to openly discuss small conflicts as they come instead of bottling everything up until you have a massive fight.
- Revisit your roommate agreement. You probably filled this out at the beginning of the year and then forgot about, but it is a binding contract that can help both of you make sure you’re on the same page.
- You must be assertive with your roommate. State your expectations and needs clearly, make sure your roommate understands, and hold your ground. It also helps to evaluate your priorities to see what absolutely needs to change, versus minor annoyances.
- After the last tip, this may seem like hypocrisy, but compromise is important too. You might have to change to fit your roommate’s needs; you’re different people with very different needs. Try to be open-minded when having discussions with your roommate.
- Try to avoid a “me versus them” mentality. Resolving roommate conflicts should be both roommates working together to fix a problem; problems will often get worse if one roommate lays all of the blame on the other.
- Your RA is there to help! Conflicts can be resolved much more easily if there’s a mediator involved, and your RA can be just that. Tell your RA about the problems you’ve been having, and work out a time they can sit down with you and your roommate for a discussion.
University of Michigan has some great tips for RAs in conflict resolution.
- First, speak to each roommate individually. This enables RAs to understand both sides of the story. Then, when all parties are available, set a time and location to hold a unified discussion.
- Don’t put it off! This may be hard if there are many conflicts arising at once, but do your best to address conflicts quickly.
- Determine how each roommate addresses conflict. Once you understand how peoples’ personalities factor into their conflict resolution skills, you’ll be able to prevent one roommate from dominating the conversation.
- Instead of telling roommates what to do to resolve their conflict, ask open-ended questions to facilitate reflection. Roommates often come to a decision themselves with you there to help.