Turning Down the Heat on Housemate Conflicts

by Annamarie Pluhar

Statue of couple in conflict

Your housemate works in an air conditioned office and drives in an air-conditioned car. When he comes home he finds the house unbearably hot.  You work outside in the hot sun and love to have the windows open. So what if the house is 80 degrees – it’s summer!

Ooops! You have a conflict.  What do you do? This depends on how strongly each feels about their position. You need to communicate so that you can find a compromise.

Formula for Reducing Conflict

Here is a formula for resolving housemate conflicts.

  • Find a time to talk face to face.*
  • State your issue – just the facts.  “When I come home from work the house feels hot to me.”
  • Add why it is a concern for you. “and I’m uncomfortable.”
  • Ask: “How do you see this issue?” Give the person a chance to respond with their view.
  • Paraphrase what that person has said. ” So what you are saying is __________.”
  • Ask: “What would be a good compromise that satisfies both of us?”

By the time you have gone through the first two steps—airing of differences and paraphrasing to clarify understanding— it should be easy to find a compromise.

* Texting and email can make conflicts worse! Don’t use them to air a grievance.

Notice the pattern

  • State the facts
  • Say “I” in why it matters
  • Ask, “How do you see it?”
  • Paraphrase the other person’s statement.

Paraphrasing the other person’s position if you haven’t practiced this can feel weird at first. But it is AMAZING at how it helps reduce conflict. We all want to be understood. When we paraphrase it helps the other person in the conflict feel understood.  If you don’t feel that the other person is understands you, ask that your position be paraphrased.

Only once you both feel understood about why you had a conflict can you get to a reasonable compromise. Build it together. You will create a better agreement about how to avoid this conflict in the future.

Take these steps to cool down the temperature on any housemate issue.

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