Resolution Strategies for Roommate Conflict

Taylor Fisher ยท 9/23/20

Resolution Strategies for Roommate Conflict

Living with another person (or other people) is not always rainbows and butterflies. In fact, it's super common for roommates to experience tension or frustration at some point during their stay together. And no matter how big or small the conflict may seem, you will need to come together and work it out to keep the living situation bearable.

When a problem does arise there are a few methods you can use to address the situation and resolve your differences. Here are some ways to peacefully settle any tension that has come up between you and your roommate.

Talk about it

Having a clear and open conversation with your roommate is one of the best ways to resolve co-living conflict.

Talking in-person is one of the best ways to resolve any dispute. It's important to have an open conversation with your roommate about what's bothering you and why. While it may be awkward at first to confront the other person, it can be really effective and actually help to build a relationship with your roommates. Stick to tried-and-true communication methods:

  • Talk In-Person: Sometimes with busy schedules and varying communication preferences, it's hard to find the right time to broach the conversation. It can be tempting to just send them a text explaining the problem, instead of carving out time for that awkward convo. However, our words can easily be taken the wrong way over text and the vast majority of roommate conflicts truly come down to a misunderstanding of expectations. Meeting up face-to-face will reduce confusion around tone, body language, and other non-verbal cues that are essential to successful communication. Having an in-person conversation will also help remind you that your roommate is only human, who has feelings and worries just like you do.

  • Timing Matters: Bringing things up right away, when you're still annoyed, can worsen the problem. But waiting too long and allowing things to compound isn't great either. After they've triggered you, wait until you've cooled off from the situation and can clearly express yourself. Try to meet them in a shared space, when you're both relaxed, and not in a rush to get out the door. A calm, non-accusatory conversation, is a lot more likely to have a positive result.

  • Use "I" Statements: Remember no one likes to feel attacked. Start off by expressing your feelings versus listing off all the things they've done wrong. For example: "When you leave your dirty dishes in the sink, I feel stressed and angry that I might have to clean them", as opposed to "You're so dirty and never clean."

  • Listen: Really hear them out and try to understand it from their perspective. Don't move on until you genuinely get what they're saying and if you don't, ask questions. Make sure you give them the space to speak as well. No one likes to be talked over and could increase tensions.

  • Give it a Rest: Try to accept the outcome of the conversation, even if it wasn't fully resolved. It may just take a little time for things to settle. If the conversation didn't end with a handshake or hug, try following up in a few days just to check-in and give your roommate the chance to share any other thoughts or concerns.

Reach a Mutual Agreement

Sometimes the quickest way to settle an argument is to come to a mutual agreement.

If you're still on edge with your roommate after an initial conversation, try to negotiate a new way of doing things. Compromise can effectively resolve a quarrel because you have to reach a mutual agreement. This conversation should be focused on the changes you both are willing to make in order to keep the coliving space peaceful. Whatever you and your roommates agree upon, make sure you write it down and include them in your roommate agreement.

Keep an open mind and understand that you might have to adjust the way you're doing some things in order to accommodate the other person. This isn't to say you should through all your boundaries out the window, but rather assess what you are willing to be flexible on and share any solutions that could make bother parties happier.

Revisit Your Roommate Agreement

Look back at the roommate agreement you signed when you first moved in.

If behaviors aren't changing and your frustration is only increasing, this could be a great time to revisit your roommate agreement. When you and your roommate first started living together you should have created a roommate agreement. This written document should clearly explain the terms of living together and all roommates need to agree to them. A roommate agreement can cover anything from cleaning responsibilities to quiet hours. Any grey areas not fully vetted from the start will leave room for potential fights, so be very specific when writing the roommate agreement.

Whenever a problem does come up look back on the terms you and your roommate agreed to initially. Having a point of reference will not only help lower tension, but it can turn the conversation into a more apologetic and understanding form of communication.

Have Regular House Meetings

House meetings are essential for solid roommate relationships

The more time you invest in getting to know your housemates, the easier it will be to avoid conflict. Make a point of starting conversations with them even if it's just in passing. If you don't regularly see your roommates establish a day once a month that works for everyone to meet up over coffee, dinner, or a bottle of wine. This will give everyone a chance to catch up on life and bring forward any concerns. With regular check-ins, you can proactively avoid issues, which is far better than reacting to them when they happen.

Minimizing Roommate Conflict at Alcove

At Alcove, you rarely run into problems with your roommates. Alcove reduces most if not all pain points of living with other people, such as splitting bills. In every Alcove home you get a private room, free laundry, fully furnished shared spaces, and more, all included in your all-inclusive rent.

Alcove also requires all housemates to sign a roommate agreement, which sets expectations for everyone living together. Members are encouraged to resolve conflict amongst themselves, as much as possible. Use housemates as a support system to get through those challenging times and mediate any tough conversations.

If tensions can't subside after you've tried to address the problem yourselves, Alcove has a team that will mediate to help resolve the conflict. Transferring to another home is also an option and our lease options make it easy if that were to become necessary.

Take a free virtual tour today, and find your perfect home and roommates.