Roommate Conflicts. Negotiation Strategies for Your Apartment Issues. Avoid problems before they begin.
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Negotiation Strategies for Your Apartment Issues
Roommates inevitably are going to fight about something, but you can try to minimize the level of conflict by communicating early on about what you expect from each other. One helpful strategy is to draw up a roommate contract at the beginning of the semester. In addition, you can avoid many conflicts by practicing some common sense roommate etiquette.
If something is bothering you, don't just ignore the problem and hope it will go away. It probably won't, and soon you'll have a long list of complaints about your roommate that you've never communicated. Your roommate may be wondering why you seem so annoyed all the time because you've never articulated what's bothering you. Yes, confrontation is difficult. However, it's even more to difficult to live with someone you don't get along with, so take a deep breath and talk to your roommate.
When voicing your grievances, focus on the problem, not the person. Attacking your roommate will cause further conflict between you, and chances are you won't get what you want.
RIGHT: "We obviously have different ideas about how clean this room should be. Can we try to compromise?"
WRONG: "You are one disgusting slob and I can't stand living with you in this pigpen!"
One great way to diffuse a conflict (and to get what you want) is to let your roommate know that you understand where he or she is coming from and offer sympathy. This may require some thought, as you need to be able to put yourself in his or her shoes.
These kinds of statements can be very helpful:
When you confront someone, it's very hard to keep the other person from feeling attacked. You can minimize this by saying nice things at the same time that you ask him or her to change an annoying habit. Try using statements such as these:
"You're a really considerate roommate, and I appreciate that you're quiet when I want to study! But do you think you could keep your side of the room neater?"
"It's really fun living with you!. But you know, I'd really appreciate it if you didn't have drunk friends over in the middle of the night."
To solve a conflict, you might have to compromise a little. However, if you compromise too much you risk being exploited. Figure out ahead of time what you absolutely must insist upon ("No guests after midnight because I have an early class…") and what you can compromise about ("I'm willing to go to the library some of the time to study if you want to have your friends in the room…").
One thing that's guaranteed to make your conflict worse: talk about it with your mutual friends and acquaintances. Chances are this will get back to your roommate. If you live in a residence hall, don't be shy about asking your Don/RA with help solving a conflict. However,try to resolve the situation by yourself first.
Submitted by Sterling Crowe, Resident Don, Nipissing University