Living with another person can be both a rewarding and challenging experience. One of the most rewarding aspects is the opportunity to establish relations with people from a variety of backgrounds. Building a positive apartmentmate relationship takes work and requires the same courtesy, consideration, understanding, listening and time that is required for building good friendships. Take a moment to read the information and tips provided below. The Office of Residential Life is here to assist you with any conflict you may have with your apartmentmates.
Key Elements of A Successful Relationship
- Respect your apartmentmates
- Be considerate of your apartmentmates’ thoughts and concerns
- Be willing to communicate and compromise
- Have an open mind regarding your apartmentmates’ choices
- Try to understand rather than evaluate or judge
- Be aware of assumptions and try to get the facts
Prior to Arrival
Before arriving, reach out to your apartmentmate(s) and introduce yourself. This will provide an opportunity to start to get to know one other and to begin to develop a plan for living together. Discuss who will be bringing what (microwave, pots, pans, etc.), and tell each other a little bit about yourselves.
- What are your hobbies/interests?
- What's your field of study and ideal job?
- What are your expectations for the year academically and/or personally?
- What are your religious beliefs? Personal values?
- Describe your ideal study environment/habits.
Tips & Helpful Hints
Everyone has different beliefs, values, experiences, communication styles, and expectations, making honest and open communication a requirement for a good apartmentmate relationship. This communication should start prior to arrival, and continue throughout the entire time you live together. When establishing a plan on how to live successfully together, think about the issues that are important to you, as well as the expectations that you have for an apartmentmate. If something is bothering you, the sooner you talk about it, the sooner it can be resolved.
- When do you like to go to sleep? Are you a morning or evening person?
- What are your study habits? Do you study with music? Do you study in your room or at the library?
- What can/cannot be shared or borrowed?
- What are our expectations surrounding guests/overnight guests/guests of a different gender? What are our thoughts on appropriate times of visitation?
- How should we address problems? How do you deal with stress tension?
- What are your expectations regarding room cleanliness? How should we divide the basic housekeeping duties?
- Do we share groceries?
- My pet peeves are...
- When I am upset, I usually...
- I would prefer to be left alone when...
- You'll know I am tense/stressed because I usually...
Everyone has a bad day! Try to be understanding and help one another through the hard times.
Establish Ground Rules
Establish ground rules regarding the use of each other's belongings, cleaning, entertaining guest, and study environment. Knowing where the other(s) stands on these matters can prevent future disagreements. And, remember to be willing to compromise!
Give Each Other Space
Be realistic—don't expect your apartmentmate(s) to be your best friend(s) and constant companion(s). Consider your apartmentmate(s) needs for time alone.
Be Willing to Compromise
You and your roommate may not agree on everything, but you both will need to compromise every now and then. If you tend to keep your living space unorganized and your apartmentmate is very neat and orderly, take responsibility to clean up after yourself and keep shared spaces tidy.
Dealing with Conflict
Conflict arises when two people perceive that they have mutually exclusive goals. It appears to all involved that in order for one's needs or goals to be met, the other's needs must remain unmet. The biggest conflicts are often those rooted in annoying habits that have become intolerable or are the result of poor communication. Remember, discuss your expectations early on and keep in mind that just as friends occasionally have disagreeemnts and misunderstandings, so do apartmentmates.
Dealing with conflict is always difficult. And remember, a conflict is not a contest—there is no winner or loser. The goal of managing a conflict should be to reach a compromise and create a solution in which all requests/needs are satisfied on some level. When working through conflict be respectful, willing to compromise, and courteous. If you feel that your emotions will prevent you from working through a conflict in a calm manner, walk away and wait until you are feeling calmer to address the issues. When addressing a conflict:
- Make sure you have all the facts straight and have a solution in mind.
- Avoid checking with other friends before you talk to your apartmentmate. Speak only for yourself and choose an appropriate time and place to talk.
- Try and separate yourself from any anger. You will get better results by remaining calm and rational. Anger may just make the situation worse.
- Make sure you are prepared to discuss criticism aimed back at you. Apologize if you're wrong and be willing to accept an apology.
- Be assertive, yet calm. The longer you wait to address your concerns, the worse they may become.
- Anticipate a defensiveness reaction. Give your apartmentmate time to think about your concerns.
- Keep in mind that your apartmentmate deserves to be heard. By listening to your apartmentmates point of view you can better understand and resolve conflicts together.
- Don’t assume a “victim” mentality—it is within your control to address the situation and take action. Failure to take action after the problem is addressed can lead to added tension among apartmentmates.
- Take a break if you feel you need one.
- Be sure to communicate in a calm, relaxed and respectful tone.
Use "I" statements to express yourself and be sure to level with each other. An "I" statement is a way of telling your apartmentmate your needs and feelings without putting them on the defensive. When leveling with each other, indicate “I feel X when you do Y because of Z, and in the future I’d like it if A, B, or C.” For example: “I feel frustrated when you have guests over late at night while I’m trying to sleep. In the future, I would like to discuss when guests can visit in advance.” Finally, use words that create a partnership instead of words that blame.
Words That Blame
- Better Not
Words That Create a Partnership
- I think...
- What if...
- I feel...
Be A Good Listener—Hearing Is Not Listening!
Admit it, we all like to be heard as it makes us feel respected and validated. Listening is key as it helps us to understand the true nature of the conflict and provide an opportunity to appreciate and understand the other person's point of view.
- Stop talking. Everything else depends on this. You can’t listen if you’re talking.
- Remove distractions. Don’t doodle, shuffle papers, or answer the phone. Close the door.
- Empathize with him or her. See the other side and avoid being judgemental.
- Pay attention, be patient, don’t interrup, and don't walk away.
- Control your temper and avoid being critical and engaging in arguments.
- Ask questions. It shows you care.
- Focus on what the person is saying, not on what you’re going to say next.
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