Guide to navigating roommate conflict 

Roommate conflict is inevitable; learn how to problem solve effectively before issues arise

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MAX CIOT

Picking a date and time where your roommate is less tense can aid in a smooth conversation about conflict.

CALLIE GERBER

For most students, college is the first time they’re living with someone besides their family. If you’re struggling with your roommate, know that this is a common thing to go through. Here’s a guide to navigating any conflict that comes up with your roommate. 

Prepare beforehand 

For those who avoid conflict, the first step is to pick a date and time to address it. Then, you can’t procrastinate having this conversation. After you pick the date and time, consider talking to your resident adviser to see if they have any advice for you. 

“RAs act as mediators in pretty much every sense of the word, but really just talking through those issues, serving as a listening voice, but not necessarily being the forefront communicator of students,” RA Zachary Nett said. “Solutions should come, at least in my opinion, between the conflict of the roommates.” 

On the day of your conversation, be sure that you are well-nourished. Be sure to eat often, get a good night’s sleep beforehand and attempt to do some sort of relaxation technique.

To prepare for the conversation, grab a piece of paper and write down what you want to discuss. This way, if you get super anxious and forget what you wanted to talk about, your notes will be there to remind you. 

Lastly, set the environment of your dorm room. Possibly use an essential oil diffuser and put in a scent you both like. Try to make the room clean so that it’s welcoming. Lastly, make the lighting comfortable. 

Make sure the time is right 

Before discussing the conflict with your roommate, do a check when you’re both in the room. Partake in some small talk with your roommate to get a sense of their mood. 

See if they are in a bad mood or stressed about anything, and check to see if anything would inhibit you and your roommate from having a positive conversation. If they seem to be in a negative mood, consider rescheduling the conversation. 

When having the conversation, be sensitive to your roommate’s feelings 

Try to get your point across in a kind but transparent way. Start with something you like about them being your roommate. From there, address the conflict with “I” statements rather than “you” statements. This can help avoid anyone going into defense mode.

If tension begins to occur, use the LARA method to bring the room’s energy back down. First, listen to what your roommate is saying. Affirm what they said by repeating it back to them. Respond to their statement by apologizing, creating a compromise or suggesting solutions. The last step is to add to the conversation in whatever way you feel is necessary.

Try to create a resolution 

This may mean you have to compromise, but you should both agree on the resolution created. Consider having weekly check-ins about the conflict. 

“Go to your RA about it and tell them that it’s persisting,” Nett said. “Ask them for additional options. There are a few different options within housing they can do.”