Sometimes, confronting the people that you live with can seem like the most terrifying thing in the world, especially if you’re friends with them, (we learnt how hard that is from Dumbledore a long time ago.) But confrontation is something everyone needs to do at one time or another, and it’s really not as intimidating as you might think. Use these 8 tips to make confrontational situations with college roommates/ uni flatmates a whole lot easier.
1. Social Media is a No-Go
For goodness’ sake do NOT message your college roommates/ flatmates saying “Can we talk?”, on any form of social media– and that includes Snapchat. It might seem like the easier option at the time, but in reality, it just makes the situation into a much, much bigger deal. No matter which way you decide to phrase it, letting someone know that you have a bone to pick with them in advance will inevitably leave them feeling threatened, and therefore defensive. Before you know it, everyone in the flat will have picked a side, and the situation will have spiralled into a huge argument- it’s uni, and people love to get involved, that’s just the way it is.
2. Approach the subject casually
Instead, approach the subject you want to discuss in a less inflammatory way. Wait until you’re in the communal kitchen/ living area, alone with the person/ people you want to talk to. Just act and chat normally until you’re ready to broach the discussion. It’s natural to be nervous, but don’t put it off too long, confrontations are always better over and done with: the quicker, the better. When you’re ready, bring up the subject in a non- aggressive way, this doesn’t have to be an argument, and you don’t have to make it one. Just casually introduce what you want to discuss, saying something like: “Actually, I wanted to talk to you about something”, is always a good way to begin the conversation gently.
3. Stay Calm
It’s easy to get angry or upset during a confrontational situation, especially if you feel like you have been wronged in some way, but it’s so important that you don’t get emotional during the discussion. If you get angry, you’ll just antagonise your college roommates/ flatmate, and if you get upset, you’ll only undermine your own argument. (Obviously, if you want to have a little cry afterwards, that’s totally fine.)
4. Make Sure That You Have a Well-Framed Argument
Needless to say, we’re not suggesting cue-cards- that would be ridiculous, but think through what it is you want to say before starting the conversation. If you haven’t done this, chances are you’ll get flustered, and it will be more difficult to get your opinion across effectively. Go over the points you want to discuss before approaching your college roommates/ flatmate, number them, if it will help you remember them better; you can even chat to a friend/ sibling/ parent about it before. Present your points clearly and succinctly: this isn’t a school project, and you want to get your message across loud and clear. You can always expand on your issues/ feelings later on in the conversation if you feel that you need to.
Ok, we know this is primary school stuff, but when you’re in the midst of a confrontational conversation, a lot of basic things can just go out the window. It’s so important to give your college roommates/ flatmate time to respond to your issues/ concerns. Not only will it give you a bigger picture of the situation as a whole, but it will help to keep the situation calm and friendly, again, talking over each other will just lead to a fight.
6. Remember, you cannot control how the other person will react
It’s important to remind yourself, that no matter how calm and collected you stay, you have no control over exactly how your college roommates/ flatmate will react. Depending on what you’re taking issue with, chances are your flatmate will become defensive to some extent, just because it’s a natural defence mechanism. Don’t let this intimidate or antagonise you. Depending on their exact response, gauge the best way to deal with their reaction. Try your best to stay calm, but obviously, if someone is screaming in your face, you won’t be getting anywhere. If this happens, just say: “This isn’t getting us anywhere, we’ll talk about it later.” Give yourself and them time to calm down: there’s no point in staying for an argument that you’re not going to get anything productive out of.
Once you have finished the conversation, whether or not you had to take a break during the confrontation, there will be two outcomes. One, you both/ all come to an agreement. You take each other’s points on board, and your flatmate apologises. You might need to apologise to them, too- remember, nobody’s perfect. The second outcome is that you don’t come to a satisfactory agreement. Neither of you wants to apologise, because neither of you thinks you need to. This can happen. In the event of this situation, the best thing to do is “agree to disagree”. There’s no point in stringing out a long dispute if there’s no chance of a resolution.
No matter what the outcome, make sure the conversation ends on a positive note. No matter how the confrontation has gone, you are still living with this person/ these people for an extended period of time, and you don’t want to make life difficult for yourself by making your living situation uncomfortable. If you agreed, make sure you end the conversation by telling them that you’re glad you’ve sorted it out. If you disagreed, make it clear to them that you want to move on now. If the latter is the outcome, chances are that they’ll be quite a difficult person to interact with in any situation, so take this on board. Subtly limit your interaction with them, and try to avoid situations in which your mutual participation or co-operation is necessary. Either way though, don’t worry. No-one likes confrontations, and you should be proud of yourself for approaching the situation with maturity.