How to resolve conflicts with roommates

It’s not easy living with someone else, especially when it comes to different personalities and values, which are often the root of conflict — the actions, habits and quirks that each person has can get on the other’s nerves.

Living with a roommate has its perks. For one thing, it’s easier on your wallet. Another bonus is there’s someone to share the chores with (assuming they actually share them). But while it may be nice to have someone around, from time to time you’ll likely run into friction and even some tense moments. It’s not easy living with someone else, especially when it comes to different personalities and values, which are often the root of conflict — that and the actions, habits and quirks that each person has that can get on the other’s nerves.

Here’s how to prevent and resolve some of problems that may surface.

Be proactive

  • Set some ground rules at the very beginning and outline your expectations of one another. Divvy up the chores and talk openly about what annoys you in order for your roommate to understand where you’re coming from. You may also want to discuss what to share and not share in terms of groceries, household items and other belongings.
  • Keep common areas clean.
  • Recognize your similarities and differences. Embrace what you both have in common and also make note of the differences so that when a conflict occurs, you can try and emphasize with that person and understand exactly where they are coming from.
  • Be respectful of each other. Clean up after yourself and keep common areas clean. If your roommate is studying for a test or just having some quiet time, don’t blast loud music for hours on end or invite guests until 2 a.m.

Resolution

  • Do not ignore a problem and hope it goes away. It will create more problems in the long run.
  • When a conflict does arise, make a point at talking straight with one another. Be openly honest and list what the problem is and how you feel. Both parties should also try to imagine themselves in the other’s shoes.
  • Don’t involve others. It will only complicate matters, especially if the others choose sides.
  • If you’re angry about something, take time to cool off before you address your roommate. In the heat of the moment your emotions could get the best of you and create a hostile environment that isn’t conducive to solving problems. When you attack your roommate could go on the defense. Try to talk to your roommate the way you would want to be talked to.
  • Try and find a solution to the problem or a way to compromise.
  • Make a plan of action to carry out the solution.

Mediation

  • If you can’t find a solution between the two of you it may be best to bring in a neutral third party that can help listen to the problem and come up with a solution for both of you.
  • In some scenarios, it makes sense to talk to your landlord. He or she may be able to help mediate and come upon a solution the problem as well.