Having a conversation with a housemate about a conflict can be hard. If you don’t plan and prepare for the conversation, it might not go very well. It’s important to get the time and place right.

Let’s see what happens when Caitlin decides to have a conversation with Rachel, but the timing is wrong:

This kind of quick attempt to resolve a conflict can be frustrating for both people involved. In this case Rachel may feel pressured into having a conversation when she doesn’t want to and Caitlin may feel that Rachel is not taking her feelings or concerns seriously.

Let’s have a look at another example where Caitlin raises her concerns in an informal way, but hasn’t really planned what she needs to say.

In this example Caitlin has approached Rachel when they’re both in the kitchen doing individual tasks. Caitlin says she doesn’t want Rachel to use her groceries. Rachel agrees but her tone is sarcastic and her body language is negative. Maybe as a response to Rachel’s tone and body language Caitlin minimises her request, ‘at least not all the time.’ This isn’t want she really wants but she’s responding to Rachel’s reaction and trying to get out all she wants to say before Rachel leaves.

What’s missing in this example is a discussion from both people’s perspective. While Caitlin is clear about what’s going on for her it’s still unknown what Rachel thinks about:

  • What has happened
  • What she is feeling
  • What is really important to her

Thinking ahead and making a plan can help you prepare what you want to say and how you might like to get your message across

In the next video, Caitlin has thought about what is really important to her and is hoping to get that point across to Rachel. She’s decided that the main issue for her isn’t that Rachel is using some food but that she doesn’t ask first.

This conversation goes quite well, although Caitlin hasn’t heard much from Rachel about what is going on from her perspective. If the issue is very important to you, it might be better to set aside time to sit down with the other person and talk about it more formally.

In this next example Caitlin and Rachel have sat down to have a discussion about what’s going on.

In this conversation, Rachel is feeling comfortable to share her perspective. Rachel’s response is:

  • More conversational
  • Her body language is relaxed
  • More open to listening to Caitlin’s point of view

Caitlin is also listening to her housemate’s perspective and acknowledging her feelings and her point of view. It is clear that Caitlin has also thought about the different ways she could get her message across and while she acknowledges that there are a lot of benefits of living together with Rachel she is still able to articulate that the whole food situation is stressing her out without appearing overly emotional, making demands, attacking or blaming Rachel. This kind of conversation seems likely to contribute to resolving the conflict about the food, and also keeping the friendship between Caitlin and Rachel because they both understand each other’s perspectives better.

If the conversation is set up well so both Caitlin and Rachel are feeling comfortable, Caitlin could then go on to suggest solutions that she has already thought of. The conversation could look like this:

In these examples Caitlin was happy to have a conversation with Rachel on her own. Sometimes you might decide that’s not the best option for you or you may try to have a conversation and it doesn’t work out well. There are always other options available, including seeking assistance.