Everyone has bad days and makes mistakes, but it's how we persevere through them together that makes the difference. Co-living has so many wonderful opportunities to get to know new people and life situations that there will be conflict that arises, it's natural! When those challenges do come to surface, this article contains some helpful information and resources to help you work through any issues you and your housemates might encounter. As a reminder, addressing any issues that arise early on is the best way to practice important conflict resolution skills and maintain a peaceful, positive co-living environment.
First, and Most Important: Safety
Do you still feel safe? If you no longer feel safe in your home or interacting with the person you are in conflict with, please use your judgement appropriately and contact your local authorities (call 911 or your local emergency number) at your discretion.
Note that some police departments have community resource officers who can assist with community issues and conflict resolution, as well. We encourage housemates to research whether this is a viable resource available in your area.
If authorities are called and the conflict is not resolved, please contact Alcove at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that conflicts are not resolved in a day and might take time on everyone's part to resolve.
Have you reached out to the Housemate(s) involved in the conflict?
Talking in person is one of the best ways to mediate disputes, but we realize that with busy schedules and varying communication preferences, it's not always the easiest first step to start a conversation. If you wait too long before addressing an issue, your chances for successful resolution diminish. We recommend reaching out in whatever ways you have available to you, including text, phone, email, and in-person as soon as an issue arises.
The vast majority of issues that most people have come down to a misunderstanding or a miscommunication of expectations. After raising your concerns, try to schedule a time that you and all the relevant housemates can sit down together and talk about what’s going on in person.
Tips for Successful Mediation
- Talk In-Person: It’s so easy to forget that the person on the other end of a text message is a human. In-person conversations help you remember that there is a thinking, feeling human on the other side of the table that has needs similar to your own. This reduces confusion due to tone, body language, and other non-verbal cues that are essential during housemate mediation. If in-person isn't an option at the moment, then a phone call is appropriate instead of a text message or an email.
- Alcove Roommate Agreement and House Rules: During the conversation, we strongly suggest reviewing your Alcove Roommate Agreement found in your lease on your portal and the Alcove House Rules found here. These are the set standards that all housemates have agreed to abide by and therefore are the foundation of what is and is not acceptable in the home.
- Listen and Establish Mutual Respect: Before you start trying to solve the problem, take some time to listen to how the other person is feeling, what they’re thinking, and how they have perceived and experienced the situation. Ask them to do the same for you. You’ll be surprised how many times the issues melt away when you realize you both heard or saw something differently. Again, remember you want to tackle the problem, not the person you live with!
- Identify Your Specific Needs and a Reasonable, Actionable Response: Once you understand all housemate's point of view, start identifying your needs that housemates can help you meet going forward. Make sure you’re coming forward with actionable requests to help you meet specific needs. House issues are more likely to be resolved when presented with a positive solution.
- If you cannot think of a solution and are having trouble with problem-solving ask for help. “Does anyone have suggestions?” is a great place to start. Place feelings and emotions aside and work together to find solutions.
- For example, "I need to be able to sleep to focus on my studies, do you mind wearing headphones to listen to your music after quiet hour?" This statement clearly identifies the specific need and a reasonable, actionable solution to the conflict.
- Make House Meetings a Habit: The more you invest in getting to know your housemates, the better you'll be able to maintain consistent communication, set clear expectations, and see fewer co-living conflicts. Regular conversations, even simple exchanges, are the best tool for preventing any future conflict from escalating into an argument. With regular check-ins, you can proactively avoid issues, which is far better than reacting to them.
We encourage members to mediate conflict amongst themselves as much as possible, and use housemates as a support system to manage through challenges that will inevitably arise.
In the event conflict continues...
In the event that you have tried to self-problem-solve with suggestions listed above and still cannot come to a resolution, email email@example.com with a detailed description of the situation and which mediation methods were attempted. Individuals agree to allow Alcove to mediate disputes if needed and as best see fit.