You and your roommate have seen better days. Something went wrong and you’re feeling irritable and unforgiving towards them.
Roommate conflicts can happen—but they’re not the end of your happy life at home. It’s important to take steps to resolve conflicts and make your home habitable for both of you. Here are some steps you can take to start resolving your situation.
1. Assess the conflict.
Think about the situation and ask yourself, “is staying angry it worth it”? If the argument is over something small, it’s probably not worth dragging out the fight. The way you perceive “small” is, of course, up to you. However, if you are unsure, speak to a friend and get their feedback. If both you and your friend agree it is a major issue, then proceed to step two.
2. Do not escalate the situation.
Try to keep the situation stable. Escalating it will only result in you sharing more of the blame. It may feel good to get back at your roommate, but retaliation will just make the situation worse. The important thing to keep in mind is to make sure the situation does not get worse.
3. Keep a record of everything that has happened.
Write down what happened right from the beginning. Include dates, times, and pictures if you can. You may think that you’ll be able to remember everything, but chances are you’ll forget something. This is also a good way to analyze the situation… when you see the situation written out in front of you, it might help you see it from a different perspective.
4. Determine the root cause.
Think about the situation and try to find the root cause. For example, if you want to turn on the air conditioning, but your roommate does not want to, the root cause of the conflict may be financial. Your roommate may be worried about not being able to afford the higher utility bills. If that is the case, you can work out specific hours to turn on the air conditioning (so that the bill increase is still affordable). There are a lot of different solutions to every problem, so explore your options!
5. Discuss the conflict with your roommate.
Have an honest conversation with your roommate. If you feel like there’s risk of the conversation escalating, try to find a place like a coffee shop or a space on campus. If necessary, ask a mutual acquaintance to participate as a neutral mediator. Speak from the heart: tell your roommate how this conflict has affected you and ask them to give you their point of view on the situation. Maybe they are angry about something you did or didn’t do. Do not blame your roommate — instead, you need to make it clear that you are here to help and that you want to work this out. At the end of the conversation, work out a list of actions and resolutions that you and your roommate will follow from now on.
Every roommate conflict is different, but the above checklist can still be applied to most situations. Before you proceed, make sure that the situation is a serious one. Don’t let something small sour a roommate relationship. If you do proceed with the above steps, know that arriving at a resolution requires you to be patient and understanding. Think about how you feel and think about how your roommate is feeling. This will lead to better communication in the relationship and ultimately help you settle your differences.