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Conflict and Mediation for RA training

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Sara Schilling

on 11 January 2018

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Transcript of Conflict and Mediation for RA training

The Road to Conflict Resolution
Roommate Agreements
The End!!
We have a little activity!
It's Out of Your Hands
We do the same things you do
-Individual meetings
-Roommate agreements
There are no straight roads to resolving conflict.
Sleeping Environment
How much sleep do we need?
What are our class schedules?
When do you wake up/go to bed?
How do we feel about hitting snooze?
How do we feel about noise, lights, typing, etc?
Other thoughts?
This is the underlying cause of many roommate issues. Take care to be very detailed in this section.

Studying Habits
Goes almost hand-in-hand with sleeping habits, keep that in mind
What are our schedules like (class, work, sleep, etc)?
What are our noise tolerance levels when studying?
Where do we prefer to study?
When studying in the room, what are the expectations of roommates?
Cleaning, Cleanliness,
and Use of Space
Encourage residents not to simply say "we can share everything"
and "let's clean when it gets dirty". Get more specific!
How often and how thoroughly will we clean the room?
Who will do what to clean?
What are our expectations with general cleanliness of the room
and personal belongings (messy, casual, spotless, etc)?
How often will we remove trash?
How do we divide the storage space or floor space?
Any other thoughts?
A room like this WILL cause roommate issues!
Guests and Visitation
How often can guests come over/be in the room?
When are good/bad times for guests?
Does it need to be advance warning or discussion?
What are expectations about guests of the opposite gender?
Any other thoughts?

Please note: Central College’s policy is that
opposite gender guests are not allowed between
12am-9am on weeknights, and 2am-9am on weekends.
Use of Personal
What items can be shared with/without permission?
What items may not be used by the roommate(s)?
What will we do with items bought together for the room?
What is our stance on other’s access to our room?
How do we feel about locking our doors when we are out?
What about when we are sleeping?
Any other thoughts?
Please note: the College STRONGLY encourages all residents to lock room doors when not in the room during the day/evening or when in the room sleeping at night.
Don't forget to remind your residents to carry their
room key when they are out of the room!
This is a skill many residents do not have, be patient and teach them!
How do we agree to communicate with each other about issues?
What do we feel comfortable talking about or not talking about?
If someone calls or stops by, how will we take messages?
How late or early is appropriate for others to call our room?
Any other thoughts?
Make sure to spend time on this one.
It may not be the cause of issues,
but it is the reason they get out of control!
Other Topics
How do you feel about policy violations in the room?
How would you feel if alcohol was brought into the room?
Any allergies/medical issues to share with your roommate?
Any other thoughts?
All roommates can be held responsible for policy violations that occur in the room.
Completed Roommate Agreements
Make sure you read it over carefully!!
Keep it on file in your room.
Offer residents a copy if they want one.
-your AC can make a copy for you
If there isn't enough detail, go through it again!
For first-years: they need a new agreement with a new roommate.
For returning students: they need an agreement if they come to
you with an issue (we'll talk about that later)
This agreement covers extenuating circumstances,
thoroughly explains expectations, and is agreed upon by both parties...
A good, but irrational, example of a roommate agreement...
Entertaining Video
Oh, Sheldon...
An awkward thing to talk about...
Initial Complaint
One of your residents says they are having roommate issues...
Naturally, they have to move IMMEDIATELY!!
Active listening is just as important as what you say...
Make eye contact
Acknowledge you are listening verbally or physically
Reflective listening is part of active listening!
"So what I hear you saying is..."
Ask questions (open-ended)
Pay attention to their non-verbals
Body language
Facial expressions
A way to say exactly what was just said to you
in different words.
Allows you to be sure you are hearing them correctly
Makes them feel heard and understood
Allows you to state their point in a way that removes all "toxic" language
Time to Discern:
Do they just want to be heard or listened to?
Are they looking for a solution?
Listen to them!
Use "Active Listening" skills
1. Brainstorm possible solutions.
2. Consider results or consequences of each solution.
3. Allow the student to come to their own conclusion—
the one that’s best for them (unless dangerous)!
This is something invaluable to conflict resolution!
______________, I feel ______________ when you ___________________
because ________________. I would like _______________________.
The I-Statement is to be said in a way that minimizes the chance of misinterpretation.
Starting with “when YOU do THIS” can cause someone to be defensive
Not using the I-statement can make mediation more difficult
Not using the I-statement can make it extremely difficult for residents to try and handle a conflict on their own
Should be the first suggestion you, as the RA, make to your residents in a conflict situation
How you are heard is just as important as what you say and how you want to say it!!

Name of person
Emotion you are feeling
Behavior causing the conflict
How it affects you
What would make the issue better for you
Time for Them to Go Off on Their Own.
It's going to be scary, it's going to be unpleasant. If conflict was fun, everyone would do it!
Suggest they speak to their roommate first, without you
They are going to be hesitant
Talk them through it
Teach them a few of the awesome skills you will have by the end of this session!!
How to listen effectively
Remind them to stay calm
The more calmly they speak, the less agitated both of them will get
So They've Talked...
The follow-up conversation is essential!
The one still wants to move (they always do)
Get some details about the conversation...
how did it go?
did everyone stay calm?
what did you talk about?
why do you still want to move?
-the real question being "what issues didn't you work out that were the real reason for you wanting to move in the first place?"
Nothing is Fixed...Yet
Now it's time for you to step in and work some RA magic!
Central's Roommate Conflict Process:
Everyone thinks they can just move, this is not the case! This process is here for a purpose-and it's a good one!
You, the RA, are the first step in this process.
Residents will say "I need to move NOW" or "I hate my roommate", etc.
The Res. Life staff is here to teach them how to take those statements and turn them into a solution.
First, the residents need to TALK to each other. Face to face (that sounds crazy, right?!)
NO facebook chat, NO twitter, NO emailing, NO texting, voxing, snapchat, etc.
Give them tips!
Usually that conversation goes south somewhere...
You, the RA, will meet with each of them seperatly (this is important for getting the whole story)
You will then have a mediation (a skill we will touch on in a few minutes)
Give the solutions from the mediation a few weeks to work!
Depending on the issue, give it some time to work out.
If the mediation just didn't help and they still want to move...
Explain to the residents their next meeting is with the AC.
Another mediation
After another trial period, the AC will talk about moving them to different rooms
Individual Meetings
This should be nothing new...
Use the same listening skills as before!
Active listening
Reflective listening
Ask a LOT of questions.
They might tell you something they wouldn't in front of others
This is you being a detective looking for 'evidence'
When did the issues start?
What started them?
"Nothing" is not an answer to your questions!
All of this info will help you during the mediation.

This has some good examples...
It's not surprising your residents didn't have a successful conversation. This is not a skill most of them have yet, and it's the reason you all are such a big deal!
The Mediation
Follow these tips and guidelines for a successful outcome!
Getting Started
Mediation is more than just talking (at first)
Location, Location, Location!
Their room is usually NOT the ideal location.
Somewhere neutral
A room that has a door to close (for privacy)
An environment where one person doesn't hold more power or authority
Somewhere that can be uninterrupted for 2 hours (just to be safe)
Be sure there is enough space for 3 people to be comfortable and have personal boundaries (3ft or so between them)
You found a room?
Find a chair for everyone (including you-don't forget!)
Set them up in a triangle- the residents should face each other and you
make sure there are no barriers between any of you (desks, tables, other chairs, etc.)
The Mediation
The room is all set up, and the roommates have arrived
-Begin the mediation with an opening statement
-Ask someone to share their side of the story to start the mediation
usually the one that first approached you with the issue
make sure they are sharing all of the details you know about
-Reframe, and make sure you have correctly identified their issues
Like in the video- "so what's most important is..."
"so you feel angry, hurt, etc. when ______"
do this for each roommate!
-Have them speak to each other, eye contact and everything!
You are there to help, not to be someone to talk through.
Keep an eye on their non-verbals (and yours)

Opening Statement:
nothing said in the mediation will be shared outside of the people involved and the Area Coordinator if necessary
No interrupting-
everyone will have equal chances to share their points, and respond to others. That goes for the mediator as well, let them talk (unless it is gets out of hand)
Ground rules-
No swearing, name calling, yelling, etc The only time it's ok to interrupt a mediation is to "detoxify" the conversation. calmly remind the parties about this rule, and reframe what they were saying
You don't make decisions, THEY make them-
this means they have to be willing to share things, and work toward solving the problem. They will both have an equal role in the brainstorming of solutions
You will not take sides-
remind them you are as neutral as you can be, and will be helping both sides find solutions.

This is an important part-helps put them at ease
Does this look like a successful setup?
legs crossed AWAY from other person
arms crossed
head turned
talking through the
mediator, open posture,
not facing other person
It doesn't go so well...
The "triangle" setup is ideal, because it creates an environment where everyone can easily look at each other without being uncomfortable.
Finally, the mediation is almost over.
All of the issues have been discussed in detail.
Ask one more time if there is anything else anyone would like to share before you start to brainstorm solutions
Go through the roommate agreement section by section, taking care to focus a lot on the areas causing the issues.
Different things are naturally more important to people; safety is more important than friends, for example.
Take notes of their suggestions.
Get at least one solution for each issue you discussed.
Solution agreement
Discuss the ideas for solutions to each issue
Both of them must agree!!
Write the solution on the new roommate agreement.
Maslow's Heirarchy
of Needs
These are the root cause of ALL conflict
After the mediation is over, explain to the residents that they will have a while to give the solutions they just came up with a chance to set in. You will follow up with them soon!
Follow Up!
This part is very important!
Re-visit the roommate agreement
-check that both roommates are abiding by the decisions made
Do things need to be tweaked?
-if a decision needs to be changed, talk about it!
Ask how they are discussing the issues now, they should have learned some skills from you by this time.
-remind them of the communication tips (I-statements, listening skills, etc.)
So, They Can't Get Along...
Time to involve the Area Coordinator
Update your Area Coordinator on the situation
The more info we have, the easier it is to help the residents
Update the residents!
Please, tell them you will be involving us. Make sure you mention that they aren't in trouble!
Everyone seems to think we only talk to people who are in trouble...

What the Area Coordinators do...
If we believe we have exhausted all conflict resolution options, we can allow the roommates to move
-they will decide who moves out (usually that isn't much of an issue)
-the one moving will get a list of roommate options (someone with an empty bed)
-they do the "matchmaking", not us!
go to dinner, the Cafe, GCS, etc. to get to know them
talk about similiarities, differences, schedules, etc. to see if it can work
-we will contact new and old RA in the event of a room change
The Road to the Resolution is Blocked!
What now?
Sometimes there just is no resolving conflict, and that's ok. We have to try!
details, details, details!!
When having the Roommate Agreement conversation, it is important to be as detailed as possible. It's the little things that start the big issues.
-no one will be ok with music blaring until 4am, even on the weekend
-cleaning "when it gets dirty" isn't enough info
-no, you don't want to share EVERYTHING. Set rules!
It seems very tedious and annoying, but it is worth it!!!!
Roommate Conflict #1
Emily and Nicole
A couple of weeks after move-in Nicole goes to brush her teeth and realizes she is out of toothpaste. Emily’s toothbrush and toothpaste are nicely stacked in their usual place on the vanity. Nicole shares a bathroom at home with other siblings and everyone shares, no problem, so she “borrows” some paste from Emily and sets the tube back down on the counter, expecting to pick up a new tube for herself later. Later that evening Emily goes to brush her teeth. She notices that her toothbrush is not where she left it and the toothpaste tube is not rolled up tightly the way she left it that morning. “Someone has been using my toothpaste!” “It had to be Nicole, but why would she touch my stuff?” Emily begins to wonder what other belongings she has that Nicole is borrowing. “Is she to cheap to buy her own stuff?” “Did she use my toothbrush too!” Emily is frustrated but she decides not to ask Nicole. Instead, she moves her toothbrush and toothpaste to the shelf inside her closet. The next morning Nicole is getting ready for class and wants to brush her teeth, but she never got the chance to stop and buy toothpaste. She reaches to borrow Emily’s again, but it’s not there. “Where did it go?” “Why would she move it?” The thought strikes her; "Did she move it because I used it yesterday? That must be it.” What a cheapskate! Every time she wants to use my TV and DVD player, I don’t even question it. Nicole decides to investigate further. She opens Emily’s closet door and sees the toothpaste. “That jerk!” “I’ll show her.” Nicole leaves Emily’s toothpaste alone but goes next door to see if she can borrow some from one of the other girls on the floor. She tells the girls next door how cheap her roommate is, and how Emily hid her toothpaste. After she brushes her teeth, she returns to the room and disconnects the wires for her DVD player, and places them in her own closet. Emily comes back from class and sees Nicole talking to the girls in the next room. They look at her and laugh, and then duck into their room. Emily goes into her own room, wondering what is going on. She decides to take a break and watch the end of the movie she fell asleep watching last night. She notices Nicole has removed the disc from the DVD player, so she tries to put it back in. The DVD player won't turn on, and she sees the cords are missing. Nicole walks in, she looks annoyed. Nicole is still mad at her about the toothpaste incident so she doesn't speak to Emily. Nicole does not speak either. The silence makes both of them more annoyed at one another and so Emily takes her DVD and goes down the hall to another friend’s room to hang out. She sees the girls next door; they still seem to be laughing about something. The tension in the room has grown pretty heavy. Emily and Nicole are both FURIOUS with each other and are not on speaking terms. They both seem to be doing things to annoy the other and they are both talking to other friends on the floor about what a jerk their roommate is. When Emily's boyfriend comes to visit, Nicole is not very friendly to him and after he leaves, Emily decides she has had enough and goes to the RA.
Roommate Conflict #2
Rob and Chris are sophomores who have roomed together for the last year, with very few
apparent sources of conflict. However, things have been increasingly tense between the two
roommates in recent days over seemingly mundane things.

Rob has his girlfriend over for three or four days at a time, which annoys Chris, because Chris is unable to get any sleeping or studying done in the room while the girlfriend is there. Rob is also a slob, with clothes tossed all over the room in no particular order. This annoys Chris because he is a very neat, meticulous person.

Chris, on the other hand likes to listen to heavy metal music at all hours of the day and night. This annoys Rob because he is into country music. Chris also often uses Rob’s stereo equipment without taking proper care of it.

Rob may be a slob with his clothes, but is very particular about his stereo. With the beginning of midterms, the tension in the room has grown thicker. Rob is doing very well academically, even with his girlfriend over for so many days at a time, while Chris has been struggling. This also puts a strain on the relationship between the two roommates.
It is a little over 2 weeks since move-in day, and Emily and Nicole have been getting along very well in their room. Since it is so early in the semester, they haven't put a lot of effort into their roommate agreement, nor have they met with their RA yet. One day, something as simple as toothpaste causes a major ongoing issue.

One morning, Nicole was going to brush her teeth, and realized she was out of toothpaste. Emily wasn't home, and Nicole didn't see the harm in using some of her toothpaste. It was sitting right on her dresser. Nicole reminds herself to go get a new tube of toothpaste later that day.

The next morning Nicole goes to brush her teeth again, and realizes she forgot to get toothpaste! When she goes to borrow Emily's, she realizes it is not in the usual spot. Nicole opens Emily's closet and sees the toothpaste hidden in there. She get's concerned that Emily was being mean, and moved her toothpaste because she was too cheap to share with Nicole. In retaliation, Nicole decides she is not going to share her things, either. She is very upset with Emily so she takes the cords from her DVD player, and hides them in her desk.

In need of toothpaste, Nicole asks her neighbors to borrow some. She starts gossiping about Emily with other girls on the floor about how cheap and mean Emily is, telling them how the toothpaste was hidden in Emily's closet. Nicole and her neighbors see Emily walk back from class, they laugh as they look at her, and go back to gossiping. When Nicole gets back to the room she notices Emily being very rude, and so neither of them say a word. Emily leaves the room with her DVD.

Emily's boyfriend comes to visit, and Nicole is so furious at her that she treats the boyfriend horribly, causing more tension in the room. Nicole and Emily still aren't speaking, and it has been 3 or 4 days since the original toothpaste incident.
It is a little over 2 weeks since move-in day, and Emily and Nicole have been getting along very well in their room. Since it is so early in the semester, they haven't put a lot of effort into their roommate agreement, nor have they met with their RA yet. One day, something as simple as toothpaste causes a major ongoing issue.

Emily wants to brush her teeth before going to bed one night, and notices her toothpaste has been used. The only person who had access to it would have been Nicole, and that makes her feel nervous for the rest of her personal property. Emily decides to move the toothpaste into the closet in hopes of giving Nicole a hint that she doesn't want to share her toothpaste, and that she was uncomfortable.

When returning from class the next day, Emily hears Nicole and their neighbors laughing and looking at her from a room next door. To take a break after class, Emily wants to relax and finish watching a movie she started the night before. When she goes to turn on the DVD player, it will not play. She notices the cords are missing, and since it was Nicole's DVD player they shared, she became very upset. Nicole walked back into the room looking very annoyed, so Emily walked out with an attitude to a friends room down the hall to watch her movie. She does things that she knows will make Nicole mad, just because.

Emily's boyfriend comes to visit for the weekend, which she is really excited about. It wasn't as much fun as expected, because Nicole spent the entire weekend being rude to him. This is the final straw, Emily goes to her RA to find out how to move to a different room.
Rob is a sophomore, living with his good friend from last year, Chris. Rob is a good student, and takes studying and grades very seriously (even if he doesn't always act like it).

Rob is not the neatest person, he doesn't care much about leaving his clothes laying all over the floor. His desk is disorganized, and usually has some food or open soda cans on it. One thing Rob does take good care of is his stereo. He got it from his parents as a graduation gift for his room. He doesn't mind sharing it, but asks others to treat it as carefully as he does.

Rob has a girlfriend who he likes to spend time with, and she is often over in their room for days at a time, though she only lives on the other side of the building. They are pretty serious.

Rob listens to country music mostly, it is what he grew up with.

Chris has been using Rob's stereo and leaving it on some heavy metal music that sounds awful.. He also has an erratic schedule, that consists of him listening to this music at all hours of the day and night. This is beginning to drive Rob crazy.
Chris is a sophomore living with his good friend from last year, Rob. Chris is an ok student, though this semester has been a struggle for him.

Chris is a very organized person. Everything has a place, and it should be in it. His desk is spotless, and his clothes are in the closet, drawer, or in the hamper. Chris is a homebody, and likes to do most of his studying in the room.

Rob has a girlfriend, which was fine, until she started practically living in the room. Chris is already struggling this semester, and has a hard time studying with her in the room always talking. Chris tries to drown it out by turning on his music, but it doesn't help as much as he hoped.

Not only does Rob have his girlfriend living with them, but he also can't seem to keep his clothes where they belong. How does he even know what is clean and what isn't?!
Rob and Chris
"Heavy Metal vs. Dirty Clothes"

Conflict Starters and Toxic Language
It can be something as little as...
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