Living with roommates is so much fun! You have automatic couch buddies, automatic cooking partners, automatic I-hate-mornings commiserating support, and everything else you can think of. But with the fun comes the tough times too. Conflict is just a part of living with people who aren't you and it can be really hard to navigate. Over the weekend, I was at a friends house and apparently she and her roommate had previously gotten in to some sort of spat. Well, I've had my fair share of roommate issues, so I figured, if I'm not the only one dealing with that, why would I not let you guys know what I've learned in the past. So here are a few tips to dealing with conflict between and among roommates that I've learned in the past few years.

grunge, joey tribbiani, and ross geller image

1) Let everyone cool off first before addressing the issue
I know that every situation is different. With my friend, both had been drinking (as college students sometimes do) and so that night was not the best time for either of them to address the issue. If it is something that has been festering though for a long time, then more time is not what is needed.

2) Don't let too much time pass before discussing
If you're in a situation like my friend was in, the next morning is the best time to talk because it's still fresh in your minds and nothing has happened between then to make it feel like it's too awkward to bring up now. If this is something that has been festering for a long time, don't let it get to the point where you are wanting to explode with anger. That's not good for anyone. Don't just grin and bare it till you can't anymore. Everyone has their breaking point. Don't test your limit.

3) Let them know you want to talk about it and work out what did or didn't happen
That could mean you guys talk then and there, or it could mean you guys talk a little later. Either way, it's important to address that there is an issue worth discussing so that no one is caught off guard.

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4) Let them be heard and make sure you are heard too
You don't want to steamroll them and you don't want to be steamrolled either. Allow them to state how they feel and where they are coming from and then you can respond. But make sure you are listening to them so that you can move forward in the right direction. The best way to know that you have heard them correctly is by repeating their main points back to them. This makes them feel heard and know that you understand where they are coming from, even if you don't.

5) Compromise or apologize
Once both parties have felt heard, then figure out how things need to change for the future, or if you are in the wrong, apologize and figure out what you can do differently. This is really important. It's easy to get caught up in a he-said, she-said situation, which can be destructive if each party gets to the point where they start getting defensive. But, by getting past what did or didn't happen, you guys can move forward and re-establish a great living situation without ruining anything or creating tension.

6) Make sure everyone is good
This can literally just be a simple "Are you good with this?" to end the conversation. You want to make sure everyone is on the same page. By getting verbal confirmation it closes the discussion, let's everyone know what the game plan moving forward is, and it allows you guys to re-establish that balanced living situation.

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These are just a few easy steps I have walked though with other roommates that have helped me skirt many bad situations in the past. In fact, I was in a situation between my roommates involving the ever-so-dreaded thermostat (one of the biggest points of contention in any living situation). My roommate called a meeting, right as I was getting ready to leave for class, as life does. During the meeting my two roommates kept arguing their points of view but I was gonna be late to class, so I jumped in, repeated each person's point of view, came up with a compromise, got both of them to repeat it and was out the door in 5 minutes. It worked out really well, but it's still incredibly difficult to try to navigate those situations especially because each conflict is unique. If there's a particular situation you want me to help you walk through, let me know through my contact page and I would be more than willing to help! That's what I love to do and why I started this blog in the first place. Hope this helps and I'll see you in my next post about the best recipe for Pumpkin Bread!