Roommate success guide – roommate concerns
Approach, communication, conflict resolution
Communication sometimes breaks down and you may have to approach your roommate with an issue that one of you has with the other. If this happens then it is helpful to have some ideas about how to approach the situation.
Approach Accordion Open
How to tell there is an issue:
- Your roommate may not want to talk to you, may leave the room when you enter, or may be complaining to friends about you.
- Your roommate may become annoyed with you over little things. If you start to notice these things you should not ignore them. If a problem is addressed early, there is a better chance of it being worked out amicably.
How to address the issue:
- Approach your roommate in private.
- Confirm that this is a good time for both of you to talk. If one of you feels rushed or blindsided they will be less able to communicate effectively.
- Be direct. Discuss the issue with regard to behaviors rather than personality traits. This tactic is less likely to put your roommate on the defensive.
- Be patient. Listen to your roommate and remember that there are two sides to every story.
- Each person should be given a chance to present what they feel the problem really is.
- Revisit the roommate agreement resources on our webpage. Which of your guidelines are working and which of them need to be reconsidered?
- Remember that a solution will probably involve each person giving something and getting something. The solution may not be your ideal scenario, but it should be an improvement on the current state of things.
Communication Accordion Closed
Most roommate conflicts are the result of miscommunication or in some cases, a total lack of communication. If you can communicate effectively, it will be much easier to develop a comfortable living environment for yourself and your roommates:
- Talk to your roommate directly when something is bothering you. Don’t discuss it behind their back because this can cause a breakdown in trust between you.
- Be direct. Be clear about what is bothering you. If you don’t tell your roommate that there is a problem they won’t be able to do anything about it.
- Remember that communication works two ways: talking and listening. Neither one is effective without the other.
- If you create a win-win situation, then the conflict is more likely to be resolved. Evaluate the needs of both sides before a solution is proposed, and make sure the solution is acceptable to both parties.
- Respect each other’s differences. Everyone has different values, lifestyles, expectations, and communication styles. Get to know each other and establish common ground. It is easier to solve a problem with a friend than a stranger.
- If you are upset with your roommate, chances are that s/he is upset with you as well. Being involved in a dialogue means that you need to be able to listen and give everyone a chance to speak. Criticism is bound to happen and your natural reaction is going to be to criticize back, but that is only going to compound the problem. Learning to accept criticism is going to help you communicate and live with your roommate. If you both find that you are approaching the limit and things are not being resolved, agree to take some time away from the discussion to give you each time to process what is going on. This will also give you each time to develop feedback that is not going to be hurtful and won’t be fueled by anger.
Conflict resolution Accordion Closed
In difficult discussions such as roommate conflicts, it is very helpful to have a third party to help facilitate the discussion. Our Campus Living Community staff, including Community Assistants (CAs), are trained to assist roommates with developing and enhancing conflict resolution skills. If you find that you and your roommate are having difficulty resolving your conflict, you should discuss this option with any Campus Living Community staff.
On-campus community members can find and access their online roommate agreement here.