Taking the high road

Posted 1 week ago

Navigating conflicts in halls

Learning to “take the high road” when conflicts arise is a valuable skill that will serve you well throughout your university years and beyond. Let’s explore how you can respond to disagreements and criticism in a way that reflects your best self, even when tensions are high.

Understanding Your Brain’s Reaction

Picture this: Your flatmate has left the shared kitchen in a mess again, right before your parents are due to visit. Your first instinct might be to fire off an angry text or leave a passive-aggressive note. This reaction is your brain’s threat response system kicking in, triggering emotions like frustration and anger. It’s natural, but not always helpful in resolving conflicts.

Calming Your Nerves

Before you react, try taking a few deep breaths. This simple act can activate your “safeness system,” helping you calm down and think more clearly. You might also try visualising a peaceful place, like your favourite spot on campus, to help soothe your nerves.

Developing Your Compassionate Voice

Imagine you have a wise, compassionate friend living in your head. What would they advise you to do in this situation? Cultivating this inner voice can guide you towards more constructive responses. Maybe they’d suggest having a calm, face-to-face chat with your flatmate instead of leaving that angry note.

Self-Care: Your Secret Weapon

University life can be stressful, making it harder to respond well to conflicts. Regular self-care practices like getting enough sleep (yes, even during exam season!), exercising, and staying connected with friends can boost your resilience. When you’re well-rested and feeling good, it’s easier to handle that flatmate who keeps “borrowing” your milk without asking.

Curiosity Over Judgment

Next time your roommate does something that annoys you, try being curious instead of judgmental. Maybe they grew up in a household where cleaning wasn’t a priority, or they’re struggling with their coursework and feeling overwhelmed. Understanding where they’re coming from can make it easier to find a solution together.

Learning from Experience

Think back to conflicts you’ve had in the past, perhaps with siblings or school friends. What worked well? What made things worse? Use these experiences to guide your responses in your new hall environment.

Prepare for Triggers

Living in close quarters means you’ll likely encounter some pet peeves. Identify what really gets under your skin - is it loud music during study time? Dirty dishes in the sink? Have a plan for how you’d like to respond when these situations arise.

It’s a Journey, Not a Destination

Remember, nobody’s perfect. There will be times when you don’t handle a situation as well as you’d like. That’s okay! Be kind to yourself and treat each interaction as a learning opportunity.

The Ripple Effect

By choosing to respond with patience and understanding, even when it’s difficult, you’re not just making your own life easier. You’re contributing to a more positive atmosphere in your hall. Your approach can inspire your flatmates to do the same, creating a ripple effect of kindness and consideration.

Mastering the art of taking the high road is a valuable life skill that will serve you well beyond your time in university halls. It can help you build stronger friendships, navigate group projects more smoothly, and even impress future employers with your interpersonal skills. Remember, it’s okay to feel frustrated or angry - what matters is how you choose to act on those feelings. With practice, patience, and a bit of self-compassion, you can become the kind of person who handles conflicts with grace and maturity, making your time in halls a positive and growth-filled experience.