How to Resolve a Roommate Conflict


Living with a roommate can be a great experience as many roommates become lifelong friends. However disaster can strike when roommates have a conflict that never gets resolved. To prevent this from happening to you each conflict should be addressed in a productive, healthy way.

  • Set a time for discussion. Often when roommate conflicts occur the roommates stop talking to each other. Other times the roommates can't say more than a few words to each other without a huge fight erupting. Regardless of which one best describes your roommate conflict you need to set up a time to discuss the conflict. This provides both parties involved time to prepare for the discussion and think about any issues they want to discuss. It also allows for a better discussion as both roommates will most likely enter the discussion fairly calm.

  • Establish rules for discussion. Before you begin discussing the actual conflicts, set up some rules to guide the discussion. For example, each roommate is allowed to air one grievance at a time and the other roommate has a chance to respond to it before another one is brought up. Establishing rules beforehand prevents a screaming match from breaking out since both roommates know they will have an opportunity to speak.

  • Be honest. Roommate conflicts will not be dissolved if one roommate is not being honest. Chances are feelings will end up getting hurt as individuals discuss what bothers them. However, the only ways things can change is if both roommates are aware of how the other person feels and wants changed.

  • Point out good things about roommate. You can use your discussion to point out to your roommate their great traits and specific things you like about them. While this won't resolve the conflict, it can help your roommate be more understanding of your point of view and more willing to compromise.

  • Come up with a written roommate agreement. Once grievances have been aired by both parties you should develop a roommate agreement that is written down and posted somewhere in a common living space. This agreement should discuss what the rules are as well as what consequences exist for breaking them. For example, roommates having a conflict about overnight guests may compromise to allow overnight guests only on weekends with guests on weekdays being gone by 11 p.m. A consequence may be that the roommate violating this agreement pays $5 for each guest that breaks the rules.

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