Each new semester brings new academic and personal relationships and, unfortunately, not all of them can be a perfect match. It’s inevitable that we’ll be thrown into situations of confrontation throughout our college careers, but learning effective ways to deal with confrontation with everyone from intimidating professors to troublesome roommates can save you a great deal of stress. Make confrontation one less concern this semsemter with our back to school tips for conflict resolution.
The intimidating professor
Although some college professors seem intimidating, it is better to try to get past any negative feelings you have early in the term. An article on eCampusTours.com, posted October 09, 2007, “How to confront your college professor,” offers some tips on how to approach the unapproachable. One piece of advice offered is to “visit your professor during office hours or a scheduled appointment” instead of trying to catch your instructor before or after class. While meeting, keep this advice in mind:
- Be prepared — know in advance what you want to discuss (a grade, a difficult concept, a misunderstanding)
- Listen — your professor probably has reasons behind his or her behavior, so give him or her the opportunity to explain himself or herself
- Take the option — if your instructor offers you the chance to make up a grade, then take it
While most professors are willing to help, there may be a couple out there who believe they are always right. If you truly feel that you are being treated unfairly, consider contacting the department chair to discuss your issues. Of course you don’t want to give your college professors a bad impression. Always looks for ways to breach issues with professors without burning bridges.
The troublesome roommate
Professors come and go each term, but roommates are there for the entire year. So, it is important to have an open relationship, set clear boundaries and be honest about expectations and rules. An article on The CollegeBound Network, “Winning at the Roommate Game,” offers some great tips to help you come to terms with your living situation:
- Be open and honest about who you are and what habits you have
- Make sure that all important issues are addressed, written down and posted where all roommates can see them (i.e. lights out time, cleaning schedule, overnight guest policy)
- Attempt to resolve conflicts as they arise — don’t wait until you are at your boiling point
- Try not to lose your cool, place blame or use offensive language — this will only cause the situation to get worse
- Ask your RA for help — he or she will usually be available to act as a mediator in roommate conflicts
But, what do you do if your roommate keeps breaking the rules, over and over again, no matter how many times you attempt to have a conversation about the issues? Well, you have to realize that, sometimes, people just can’t get along. If your RA can’t offer a sensible solution, you may want to ask the housing department to get involved.
If all else fails, you will either need to deal with the situation and stick it out for the year or ask for a different placement — which will require you, not your roommate, to move. If, however, you ever encounter any life threatening situations or if you ever feel threatened in any way, contact your RA and the housing department immediately.
Conflict resolution: A life skill
Clarke University offers “Tips for Managing Conflict,” advice for dealing with confrontations, including:
- Listen attentively and put yourself in the other person’s shoes
- Think about how you may have contributed to the issue at hand
- Use compromise and creativity to alleviate an uncomfortable situation
- Set clear goals of what to do if this conflict occurs again
Although dealing with annoying roommates and hardnosed professors may not be pleasant, it will teach you an invaluable life skill. Most likely you will have confrontations at home and in the work place down the road; so, make the most of perfecting your talking, negotiating and resolution skills now — it will definitely help you get your point across for all types of future relationships.