It’s all too often true: Nobody wants to give up ground in an argument. But compromise doesn’t have to be a negative word, shorthand for a solution that you and your roommates put up with, but everyone secretly hates. The trick to making compromise work for you is to step back, and take a different view!
Here's how to find the best solution the next time you and your roommates need to compromise.
1. Focus on the long-term win, not only the short-term win
It’s human nature to want to win, and to want to keep winning, again and again. But if all you want to do is win every disagreement you have with your roommates, then you aren’t truly committed to the longer-term goal of a successful living relationship with them. Your short-term victory could be setting you up for future pushback from your roommates over far more important issues. So be strategic as you discuss alternatives, and keep an open mind.
2. Don’t be too aggressive
There’s nothing worse than the person who thinks the loudest voice wins. Once again, this is an approach that may absolutely succeed in the short term—but it could be dangerous in a long-term relationship. People want to live with people they both respect and like. That’s not the person who’s yelling all the time.
3. Do be honest and share your emotions
In a roommate disagreement, it’s important that everyone share their side of the story. When it’s your turn, your emotions regarding the outcome you most want matter! State your case as clearly and emotionally as you can, sharing all the reasons why your opinion is the best opinion in the group. If you have data and information to back up why you feel the way you do, even better—but speak up! And then…
4. Truly listen
This should be the easiest part, but it’s often the most difficult. Stop thinking about your side of the story, and listen to opposing views with a genuinely open mind. You may learn something you didn’t know! Don’t be afraid to follow up with questions that help you learn more, either. Your roommates will appreciate it more than you know.
5. Say Thank You
Win, lose or draw, the most important element of a roommate discussion is that you all end up with a stronger relationship. Maybe you got what you wanted, maybe you didn’t, but you should acknowledge that everyone in the conversation was trying to work toward the best solution for the group. Whether that’s rules about doing chores, paying bills, managing noise or handling overnight guests—the end goal is that you create a happy, supportive living environment for both you and your roommates.
So the next time you have a decision to make, don’t be stressed! Take the longer view, identify what’s really important to you, speak from the heart, truly listen…and express your appreciation for your roommates when it’s all said and done. You’ll be glad you did!