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Conflict Resolution

Where does conflict begin?

Conflict is often based upon six major sources which are listed below with some examples:

  • Goals - differences in academic discipline and end focus
  • Values - differences in basic beliefs, especially religious beliefs
  • Tasks - performing basic chores such as taking out the trash, cleaning room or making bed
  • Resources - different financial backgrounds
  • Rules - adherence to laws and policies
  • Communication - being able to talk to each other

The core to almost any roommate/suitemate/apartment-mate conflict is lack of communication. You must talk to each other and express problems when they arise and work to find common ground in solving those issues. If you do not talk, the problem will not "just blow over," but will most often become a bigger and bigger issue and become harder to overcome. Conflict is usually a series of episodes that escalate and spiral, communication helps to ensure that escalation does not occur because difficulties are overcome as they arise.

How to communicate

  • Set a time for focused discussion of the conflict without disturbance.
  • Your first point of agreement should be that you are both seeking a win-win resolution. If one person is seeking to win and have the other lose, there will not be an open discussion.
  • Work towards collaborative information sharing where both sides openly share information and seek common ground.
  • Discuss the problem at hand and together agree on the goal of the discussion.
  • Work to alter and eliminate the underlying cause of the tension which created the conflict. While this may be more difficult to discuss, if it is not resolved you will be back in conflict again later.
  • Emphasize your superordinate goals. You both are in school and therefore have the common objectives of being scholastically successful. Work first from common ground to establish the equality between you.
  • Find common interests and participate in them together, this will help to eliminate underlying tension and create a basis of common ground for interpersonal growth.
  • Don't be afraid to bring up the problem, but don't be discouraged if it isn't immediately solved. Set time to come back and revisit it. Often the opportunity for people to think about their behavior allows for a more thoughtful and productive second discussion.
  • Be open and compromising yourself. Living with other people requires compassion and an open mind. Your flexibility shows your willingness to change and encourages others to do the same and "meet you in the middle".

What is the next step?

What do you do if you try the above communication steps and you still have a problem? Then talk to your RA and ask that they mediate a discussion for you. They will work to make sure that both sides are bringing out the core issues and are being open to compromise and "meeting in the middle". They will also be able to clarify policies and adherence to UCSD policies and procedures as well as the laws of the State of California.

If you still have difficulty after having your RA mediate such a discussion, please contact the Revelle Residence Life Office at 858-534-3025 to schedule a meeting with the Assistant Resident Dean who is responsible for your living area. The Assistant Resident Dean will ask about the steps you have already tried and will work to help you in the conflict resolution process.