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10 Tips for Solving Disputes

By: Emma Eilbeck BA (hons) - Updated: 8 Apr 2010 | comments*Discuss
Disputes Flatmate Talk Confrontation

When it comes to solving disputes, different methods work for different people. However one tried and tested method that very rarely works is shouting. The key to any successful negotiation is to stay calm and talk through your disagreements.

1. Talk

It may sound obvious but simply not talking to your flatmate will not solve anything. Something you are doing could be bothering them without you knowing and vice versa.

If something is bothering you, don’t write it in a note or send it to your flatmate in a text message, tell them face to face and tell them as soon as possible, so the problem does not escalate.

2. Power of Persuasion

Simply turning your dispute into a joke or making light of it can be beneficial in some situations. Obviously this is not the best tactic if you and your flatmate have a serious dispute, but if it is something such as they are failing to put the milk away, make a joke of it. If you persuade somebody that it is actually them that wants to take action and amend the fault, it normally works.

3. Mediate

If you think your confrontation is going to blow up into a full blown argument you may want to bring someone neutral into the equation. This could be somebody you both know or somebody that will not take sides. It is no good bringing your mum along to the meeting as she will be on your side.

4. Listen

It’s easy to get carried away in a dispute and just start shouting, but by listening to your flatmate you will make them feel a lot more comfortable. Even if you don’t like what they are saying, you should keep quiet and let them have their say. This way they should respect you and let you have your say. You never know you might also understand why they are upset if you take the time to listen.

5. Keep A Log

If you find that you are arguing about finances or who had bought what, one easy solution is to keep a log book. You should write in the book every time one of you pays something towards the house, that way you both know where you stand and who owes what.

6. Divide Time

If you find that you are shouting at each other constantly and cannot stand to be in the same room, you may want to draw up a rota so that one night one of you occupies the living room and vice verse. It may work as a temporary solution to the issue and give you both some time to cool down.

7. Listen To Each Other

It’s important that you both listen to what each other has to say. You should organise a time when you can both sit down and talk, write down a list of your disputes and hand them to one another. Your flatmate is probably more than willing to want to solve the dispute.

8. Have A Friends Night

You may not be best of friends but organising one night a week where you both spend some time together can help you become better friends. You should not use this time to complain to each other about what your problems are, but use it as friend’s time, so maybe watch a film, drink a glass of wine and remember why it is you enjoy living with each other.

9. Think Before You Speak

It is easy to get carried away in the heat of the moment and say something that you regret later. So before you speak to your flatmate sit down and make a list of everything you want to say and what your dispute is, this should stop you having any regrets or needing to apologise later.

10. Keep Addressing The Problem

Even if you solve a dispute you should try and organise regular or monthly meetings where you both sit down and discuss any problems that are on your mind. This does not mean you should wait until the meeting and then say all your problems at once, but rather use it as a time when you can dedicate an hour or so to speaking about house issues.

There is no easy way to solve a dispute with a flatmate and often one of you will have to admit defeat, but by following these ten tips you should make the process a lot easier. Remember it is not your goal to fall out with your flatmate, but to be their friend.

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