How to Settle Disputes Between Flatmates | Ambitious About Autism

Most people argue at least once in the time that they know a person, whether they are family, close friends, live together or have opposing ideas. So it’s likely that you will at some point get frustrated at, annoyed by, grumble about and maybe argue with a flatmate.

You can settle disputes before they even start, while they are happening and repair the relationship after the issues have all been aired.

This isn’t something that will always be easy for autistic people, simply because autism generally involves social communication differences, differences in how autistic people process information and the world around them.

Often we rely on body language, inference or ‘what is unsaid’, but if something isn’t explicit then not all people will be able to pick up on it. Jack, Jak and Sarah discuss how disputes can start because people don’t communicate effectively and how to delicately get relationships with flatmates back on track.

Unfortunately, autistic people can often be seen as quite blunt or direct. This trait and a no-nonsense approach to communication can appear quite harsh, especially in an argument where everyone is more sensitive.

The Youth Patrons and Sarah suggest some tips for resolving and avoiding disputes:

  1. Set clear rules so everyone knows what is expected of them.

  2. Comments about someone else’s hygiene or habits shouldn’t be personal. These are things that have built up over a long period of time so aren’t changed instantly, that is why they’re habits. Instead, don’t approach the issue directly as it could seriously hurt someone’s feelings.

  3. Passive aggressive notes and shouting don’t help. You typically still need to live with a person after you’ve had a row so you do need to communicate with them respectfully.

  4. When you talk about something don’t make someone feel like they can’t escape, an open and honest conversation that someone can stop and finish later is much better.

Sarah (@Sarahmarieob) found that it was often easy for grumbles to turn into housemates not talking to each other:

“It would always start with one person not doing their dishes on time. You’d then notice every little thing they did wrong and then suddenly everything builds up because you a) haven’t spoken to the person about what is annoying you and b) have now attributed so much more to the annoyance.”

The most important thing to remember is that disputes will invariably happen. Instead of letting the frustration build up the best approach is to tackle disputes without adding extra annoyance, don’t allow small issues the space to become large issues.

If in doubt always check out the Flatmate HQ for more tips on living with other people. And if you’re looking for a place to live take a look at our huge range of spare rooms to rent throughout the UK.