8 Ways To Resolve Conflicts With a Roommate

Life in a college dorm room with one, two, three, or even four roommates will test your patience, if not your sanity. Disagreements regarding noise, personal space, and cleanliness can interfere with your studies not to mention your emotional health if they aren’t resolved calmly and to everyone’s satisfaction. So before you lose your temper or decide it’s best to catch up on your sleep in the library, consider these eight ways to resolve conflicts with your roommate. Please note, if your roommates are behaving in a way that is placing them or you in danger, contact your Resident Advisor or Hall Director for help.

  1. Go to the source:

    This may not seem obvious in the age of instant messaging, but having a face-to-face conversation with your roommate is the first step you should take to address a conflict. You may find your roommate had no idea their behavior was causing you stress and is more than willing to compromise for you.

  2. Be courteous:

    Common courtesy goes a long way toward preventing potential conflicts or resolving them when they arise. Make it a point to check in with your roommate if you think your activities, such as having friends visit your room to listen to music, might impose on his or her schedule. Hopefully, your roommate will do the same.

  3. Don’t get emotional:

    When a conflict does arise, it’s in everyone’s best interest, no matter how intense the issue is, to stay calm. Don’t use the conflict as an opportunity to insult or threaten your roommate. Take deep breaths and be sure you’re in control of your emotions before you discuss an issue.

  4. Compromise:

    In college, you’re going to meet, work and live with with people of different economic and cultural backgrounds. Some roommate conflicts may have more to do differing perspectives and upbringings, rather maliciousness or selfishness. With this in mind, be sure you consider the possibility of compromise or even changing your own habits in order to resolve a conflict.

  5. Validate your roommate:

    A roommate who likes to play loud music at night may simply need time to blow off some steam after a long day of classes. Another roommate who leaves the communal kitchen a mess may be rushed and pressed for time due to the demands of a job they’re holding down while they are in school. When discussing and attempting to resolve a conflict, put yourself in your roommate’s shoes and let them know you understand their side of an argument.

  6. Put it down on paper:

    Most colleges require you and your roommate complete a roommate agreement at the start of a semester in order to set down and agree to some guidelines for communal living. A roommate agreement will address issues that have the potential for conflict, including study hours, sleeping habits, visitors, cleaning, and sharing personal items. Having some boundaries down on paper can be helpful in addressing and resolving conflicts.

  7. Roommate conference or mediation:

    If you and your roommate are unable to resolve a conflict together, consider reaching out to a Resident Advisor to mediate a fresh discussion. A trained, impartial mediator will ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and that some sort of mutually agreed solution is found. A mediator can also help if the conflict is so severe that the living situation needs to be changed.

  8. Switch roommates:

    Your roommate loves classical music, while you love heavy metal. That’s not exactly grounds for requesting a new roommate, and besides, what’s fun about living with someone who shares your same tastes? That said, many schools do allow dorm residents to switch roommates, so long as everyone involved is agreeable and has someplace to go. Speak to your Resident Advisor if you and your roommate would like to make such a change.

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