As humans, we’re all built differently. Your roommate’s personality may collide with yours, which is normal because your roommate doesn’t necessarily have to be your best friend.
However, when a problem arises between you, you must always consider both its long-term effects, as well as the options available to deal with it. Choose the ideal time for a conversation about the problem, address it, try your best to understand the situation and give suggestions on how to solve it.
More often than not, the conflict doesn’t just work itself out. And, if there is a lack of good communication, the time that passes won’t fix the issue, either. Rather, it will just cause frustration. So, even if you’re worried about how your roommate may respond to you addressing the issue, go ahead and do it. While they may have a more assertive personality, it’s important not to let yourself be intimidated.
For instance, Quaker leader Bonnie Tinker developed a communication guideline that goes by the acronym “LARA” for:
This method of conversation requires carefully listening first, then affirming a feeling with your conversation partner in order to be heard, and then responding to each other’s questions and concerns (but without attacking). Use “I” statements, such as “I think” and “I feel.” Finally, if necessary, ask questions and provide extra information. A technique like this reduces tension in a conversation that might otherwise lead to an argument.
Below are a few recommendations and tips for you to consider the next time you find yourself disagreeing with your roommate:
Find the Right One
It’s essential to connect with the person you live with. So, even though it’s challenging to find a compatible roommate, try to pick one with whom you share a few values. This may not necessarily be in terms of music or movies, but rather in ordinary everyday habits — such as a passion for cooking, keeping the house clean and helping one another with housework.
Communication Comes First
When something feels off and a little quarrel is ready to erupt, the silent treatment is the worst option. Instead, communicate effectively, listen, and be open to your roommate’s point of view. Sometimes, we may just be upset about things that we don’t understand. For that reason, when fixing an issue, avoid the “me versus my roommate” approach. Instead, the healthy mindset is “us versus the issue.”
Respect Each Other’s Personal Space
Often, preventing conflicts in the first place is the best approach to resolving them. For example, inform your roommate beforehand about any guests you want to bring into the apartment. Would you like to have a little party or invite your friends for dinner? Simply ask in advance whether it’s acceptable. Nobody wants to deal with uncomfortable circumstances in their own home, such as a mess, noise, or crowds.
Barriers protect us from many misunderstandings. Setting your limits from the beginning allows you to control the situation far more quickly in the event of a confrontation. Maintain a list of what you do and do not permit with your roommate; follow the rules; and, if any rules are broken, add even more specific directions.
The Power of Example
Often, conflict resolution begins with you. Resolve your own shortcomings and your roommate will definitely appreciate the effort and see it as self-improvement. For example, stop procrastinating, start listening to music quietly on headphones, and do the dishes after dining. The little details add up to a big difference.
Some issues aren’t worth escalating into conflicts simply because of the fact that people’s behavior might occasionally be justified. Be kind to and understanding of your roommate. Perhaps they had a rough day or experienced something negative that affects their behavior that bothers you. Try to have an honest talk and ask them if you can help in any way with their emotional distress.
Come to an Agreement
Compromise can also help you overcome a disagreement, but only if you focus on the changes you need to make in order to coexist peacefully under the same roof. Include everything you’ve agreed upon and use them to govern your coexistence. These guidelines summarize your living rules. Of course, if anything becomes frustrating again, evaluate and update your roommate guidelines.
Granted, if the tensions between you and your roommate continue to escalate, you might need to consider moving to a different residence or finding a more compatible roommate.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that we’re all human and conflicts are part of our lives. Plus, a minor fight with your roommate doesn’t necessarily mean that one of you is wrong. Be open-minded and mature in stressful times. Put yourself in the other person’s position and consider how you would like to be treated. A peaceful and quiet living environment will benefit your well-being in the long run. As you practice using these frameworks for tough conversations with your roommate, handling issues will become less intimidating.