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Housing and Residence Life

Conflict Resolution Tips

Conflict Resolution Tips

Approach Your Roommate in Private

Request to talk with them one-on-one and in-person.

Choose the right time

Choose a time when you and your roommate have time for a healthy conversation. If either of you are stressed studying for a midterm, it may be better to schedule a time to talk when you are more relaxed. You can ask your roommate and determine a mutually agreeable time. Confirm it is a good time for both of you to talk; if someone is rushed or feels blindsided by the conversation, it is less likely for the conversation to be effective.

Talk in Person

Nonverbal communication, such as text messages or social media posts can be misinterpreted. Talking in person gives you an opportunity to hear one another’s tone of voice, see each other’s body language and facial expressions. 

Focus directly on the specific concern(s)

This could be studying or talking on the phone with all the lights on while you're trying to sleep, using all the hot water in the shower, or not cleaning up. Try to talk to your roommate about this one big issue and offer a suggestion for how to make it better. Allow your roommate to disagree/agree with your suggestion until you work out a solution. 

If you try to discuss too many issues at once, your roommate may feel like you are attacking them.

  • Talk about the behavior not the person. 
  • You may say, “It’s hard for me to sleep when you talk on the phone late at night,” instead of “You’re rude and disrespectful when you talk on the phone at night.” 
  • Focus on the behavior and how it makes you feel. Your roommate may not even realize how their behavior affects you. 

Listen to your roommate

Once you have told your roommate the problem and how you feel, allow them to speak. Your roommate has a different perspective than you and may say something that you have not considered. When you listen, ask yourself what you would do if the situation was reversed. 

  • After you have spoken, you may say, “What do you think?” or “How do you feel about the situation?”
  • When your roommate speaks, do not interrupt. 

Respect each other’s differences 

Everyone has different values, lifestyles, experiences, expectations, and communication styles. 

Develop a solution together

Once you and your roommate have had a chance to speak, it is time to come up with a solution to the problem. If it is something that has already been covered in the roommate agreement, the solution is simple. If it is a different situation, you will have to negotiate something that works for both of you. Ask your roommate, “What do you think we should do?” or “How can we fix this together?” 

For example, maybe your roommate has a new partner that spends a lot of time in your room, but you need quiet time to study. The solution may be to have designated days the partner can come over, and you agree to study at the library 2 nights a week so they can have privacy. Both of you make a compromise to get something that you want. Your roommate gets private time, and you have designated days that you can study in your room. 

Discuss different solutions to the problem. Allow each person to propose more than one solution. Solutions will likely involve each person giving and getting. A solution may not always be the ideal scenario for everyone; it should be an improvement on the current state of things. 

Solutions often take time. Allow space for everyone to adopt and embrace the new solution. Hold yourself and one another accountable to the solution. 

Revisit the Roommate Agreement 

The Roommate Agreement is a living document that can be updated at any time. Your RA can help you review the form together and make updates.