Roommate Communication

Three Women in common area

Tips for Effective Roommate Communication

  1. Be clear from the beginning. Do you already know that it bothers you when someone hits the snooze button several times? That you're a neat freak? That you need ten minutes to yourself before talking to anyone when you first wake up? Let your roommate know as soon as you can about your little quirks and preferences. It's unrealistic to expect your roommate to read your mind, and communicating what you need is one of the best ways to prevent conflict.
  2. Address things when they're small. Has your roommate eaten your last package of ramen noodles? Does his typing late at night keep you awake? Addressing things that bug you while they're still small can help your roommate be aware of something she may not otherwise know. Addressing little things is much easier than addressing them after they've become big issues.
  3. Respect your roommate's belongings. This may seem simple, but it's typically one of the reasons roommates experience conflict. Don't think he'll mind if you borrow his headphones? Her clothes? Talk through what is okay to share or borrow, and what is off limits.  Don't assume that because your roommate told you it was okay to use his laptop, that you can use his bike.  Also talk about how often it's okay to use something - borrowing something once in awhile is different than everyday.
  4. Be aware of who you invite into your room and how often. You may love having your study group use your room, but your roommate may not. Be mindful of how often you bring people over. If your roommate studies best when it’s quiet and you study best in a group, alternate who heads to the library and who uses the room.
  5. Lock the door and windows. This may seem like it has nothing to do with roommate relationships, but how would you feel if your roommate's laptop got stolen during the ten seconds it took you to run down the hall? Or vice versa? Locking your door and windows is a critical part of staying safe on campus.
  6. Be friendly, without expecting to be best friends. Successful roommate relationships are not dependent on friendship.  While a great friendship may or may not develop, be careful not to expect that you are going to be best friends for the time you're in college. Expecting or depending on it sets both of you up for misunderstanding or disappointment. You should be friendly with your roommate but also make sure you have your own social circles.
  7. Be open to new things. Your roommate may be from someplace you've never heard of before or may have a completely different religion or lifestyle from your own. Be open to new ideas and experiences. That's why you went to college in the first place!
  8. Be open to change. You should expect to learn and grow during your time at school, and so should your roommate. As the semester progresses, realize things will change for both of you. Be comfortable addressing things that unexpectedly come up, setting new rules, and being flexible to your changing environment.
  9. Address things when they're big. You may not have been totally honest with tip #2. Or you may suddenly find yourself with a roommate who goes wild after being shy and quiet the first two months. Either way if something becomes a big problem, address it quickly so it doesn't become worse.
  10. Try on some new shoes.  Before making assumptions, try to step back and think about what your roommate’s perspective may be in a situation. Then ask your roommate and LISTEN. You may not agree but it will help to open your mind to different opinions and experiences.