Sharing an Apartment: Effective Ways to Handle Conflicts

When you share an apartment there are many things to consider. We’ve gone over Roommate Agreements, the pros and cons of having a roommate, and also how to interview a new roommate. Now it’s time to look at ways to make sharing an apartment a successful endeavor.

Look at this scenario. You’ve moved into your new Bethlehem apartment and you interviewed and found the perfect roommate. She’s a great person with similar interests, very honest, comes from a nice family, likes to watch Mad Men with you, and has a cat that you actually like.  She plays the violin and doesn’t practice at midnight but only during the times the two of you have agreed upon. You and your roommate have been equally sharing the expenses for your new Bethlehem apartment and everything seems to be going fine.

But the inevitable has happened. You are in the midst of a disagreement, you are not completely sure what’s wrong, and your roommate has stopped talking to you. She slams her door often, and she won’t let her cat out of her room, so the poor thing is meowing a lot, and this bothers you as well. You are late for work. You don’t have time for this drama. You leave all the dishes unwashed even though it’s your turn to do them, and you purposely used your roommate’s expensive shampoo this morning, a big handful, just to annoy her. At this rate, you know the crap will hit the fan, no doubt about it.

What to do?

The first thing to consider is that retaliation is never the answer. And neither is silence. You have to talk to your roommate and make clear what you don’t understand, what you feel, and what you need. And, you have to do this as soon as possible.

The following are some effective ways to handle a conflict.

  • First, always stay calm when confronting your roommate. Ask him or her to talk when they are ready. Speak openly and honestly and focus only on the problem that concerns you both at the present moment. Keep on this topic. Do not deviate into other things that may be bothering you. This will side-track the conversation, and hinder progress in solving your issue.
  • Ask: What can we do together to change the present situation? Be respectful of each others’ opinion and try to understand the others’ point of view.
  • Once you know what the other is thinking and what they want, avoid using attack words. Make sure both of you are on the same issue  and use positive, helpful words to explain your view.
  • If you just cannot see eye to eye on the issue at hand, it may be necessary to bring in a mediator.  This is a person who does not live in the apartment, and does not hold a special friendship with either of you. Consider someone who would stay neutral when hearing each point of view. An outside person perhaps can see deeper into your problem and offer suggestions to help the two of you balance out your conflict.

With thoughtfulness, honesty, and calmness, handling a conflict, though not a pleasant thing to do, can be easier and less stressful on both yourself and your roommate and make sharing an apartment a great experience.

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