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Roommates in college: Bad conflict

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John and Mark are both freshmen in college and are sharing a dorm room. They have both grown up with their own rooms, so this is a new experience. There is adequate space, but it is smaller than what both of them are used to.

John wakes up each morning, makes his bed, takes his shower, tidies what he messed up in the bathroom, and gets dressed to go to class. He likes to be to class at least 10 minutes early just in case he gets delayed. John hates to be late so he sets his alarm clock just far enough away from his bed that it requires movement to turn it off.

Mark hits the snooze button on his alarm clock at least three times each morning. When he does get out of bed, he realizes he is almost late for class, so he runs his fingers through his hair, tosses pajamas on the floor, grabs sweats and a t-shirt, puts on deodorant, and heads to class.

When John returns from class he sees his part of the room with a neatly made bed and everything in order. He then sees Mark's pajamas left on the floor, the bed unmade, and Mark's toothbrush in the bathroom sink. John is furious, so he cleans up Mark's mess hoping it is a hint to Mark.

When Mark returns, he is okay with John cleaning up, but doesn't say anything.

Next morning - the same routine. Mark is not getting John's hint, and since John is not willing to talk with Mark about how irritated he is, this keeps going for a few months.

One day John has had enough and requests another room and roommate and says Marks is impossible to live with. When confronted by the dorm leader, Mark has no idea why John would say that. They never fought, and John was always quiet and easy to get along with.

This is what Godwin calls bad conflict - silent conflict. Mark did not realize there was a problem and John did not communicate there was a problem.

This could have been different and we would have said it was good conflict. Stay tuned - subscribe so you don't miss how to engage in good conflict and have healthy relationships.

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