In an earlier post, we talked about John and Mark who had a tough freshman year. John moved out and Mark was confused. The problem was, John thought he was communicating and Mark was not hearing John's way of communicating.
How could they have worked through their problems better? By realizing that silence is not good conflict.
The first step is to realize that while college roommates, there will be conflicts. It's inevitable.
The second step is to not always go with our gut reactions and find healthy ways to communicate.
One way this roommate problem could have been solved is if John would have realized that he and Mark had different ideas of how neat rooms should be. There is nothing wrong with that. But they needed to talk, somewhere not in their room, about how neat they thought the room should be.
Then they could have talked about some compromises. John might have found out that Mark's plan was to return after his first class and pick up his stuff. This means acknowledging that no one way of keeping the room is right and when two people are roommates, they must compromise.
Godwin puts all this in the context of muscles. As we all know, in order for muscles to become strong, we must exercise. The same is true with relationship muscles.
- Humility: Both Mark and John needed to acknowledge potential personal wrongness. Mark let John clean the room, but John failed to communicate with Mark.
- Awareness: This muscle is strong if you can see where you were wrong. Mark should've seen how John cleaned up after him and said something. John shouldn't have said Mark was difficult to live with.
- Responsibility: This muscle is strong if you are bothered by the awareness. If John and Mark could each be bothered by the way they handled things, then this muscle is growing.
- Empathy: John needed to see things through Mark's eyes and Mark needed to see things through John's eyes. Yet without communication, this is very difficult.
- Reliability: If this muscle is strong, both John and Mark would acknowledge they each need to compromise and grow and would then do that. Whatever they agree on would be carried out.
Notice that most of this good conflict takes time and communication. Nobody gets it right the first time and college is a time to learn how to compromise and grow in relationships. Just remember - silence won't solve these types of roommate problems.
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