Communication 101: Talking With Your Roommate
Communication is essential for a positive relationship with your roommate. Whether your relationship with your roommate can withstand the everyday pressures of college life, and the ups and downs of normal friendships, greatly depends on how well you communicate. Setting aside time and committing yourselves to talking problems through is necessary for the relationship to last - and that's regardless of whether or not you're best friends.
Whether you are just meeting your roommate, or you have been living together for a while, you may want to take some time to get to know one another. Below is some information about "getting along with your roommate".
Some questions to break the ice:
- Where are you from?
- When is your birthday?
- What are your hobbies or interests?
Then you might want to discuss the following:
- How much sleep you each need and when you like to go to bed
- How important is it for things to be neat and clean
- How you feel about possessions, i.e. borrowing food and clothes
- What your study habits will probably be like this semester
- Personal habits your roommate might need to know about
- What do you like to do for exercise and your general health
- How you feel about living away from home
- What kinds of extra-curricular activities you want to be involved in
- Something that is likely to annoy you
- Something that will usually cheer you up when you are down
- Something that gets you tense and uptight
- Times when you would prefer to be left alone
- Which aspects of your social life are important to you
Golden Rules for Getting Along With Your Roommate
- Try to get to know each other.
- Don’t expect too much…roommates don’t have to be best friends. Getting along with each other is all that is necessary.
- Be open – ask, listen, discuss. Don’t wait until things get out of hand. If you are not open with your roommate, your frustration may keep building until you blow up and say things you really don’t mean. This could result in hurt feelings. Before it gets to that point, talk it out. Tell your roommate in a mature fashion what is bothering you and help her or him understand why.
- Be sensitive to each other’s moods, everybody has bad days, so try to understand when your roommate has one, too.
- Share what you can and clearly state what you are not comfortable sharing.
- The room belongs to both of you. Decorate together so it meets both of your needs.
- When things can’t be worked out between the two of you, seek assistance from someone else, such as your RA.
- Roommates can be fun and they sure can help ease the loneliness we all feel sometimes. Share successes, say thank you, show common courtesy, and let the other person knew when things are going right, as well as when things are going wrong.
Roommate Conflict and MediationSteps to Resolve Roommate Conflict
- Speak to your roommate directly. State issues neutrally. Relate feelings. Offer resolutions. Be prepared to listen and willing to compromise.
- Ask the RA on your floor to intervene by meeting with both of you. His/her role is that of a neutral mediator as you both try to resolve the problem.
- Roommates meet with Residence Director. The RD may serve as arbitrator in resolving the conflict. Roommates may be asked to sign additional behavior or room environment contracts.
- The Coordinator of Residential Services may intervene in a conflict if roommates have been unable to resolve a conflict at other levels.
Mediation services are offered through the Residence Life staff after both roommates have discussed the situation between themselves. Mediation is a process where all parties involved in a dispute agree to meet with a third party, who listens to all sides of the dispute, and attempts to help the parties reach an agreement among themselves. To arrange a mediation, see your Resident Assistant or Residence Director.
Your rights as a roommate
You can expect a few things as a roommate, and need to be sure you don't violate your roommate's rights to the same:
- The right to live in a clean room.
- The right to expect that a roommate will respect one’s personal belongings.
- The right to read and study without undue interference in one’s room. Unreasonable noise and other distractions inhibit the exercise of this right.
- The right to sleep without undue disturbance from noise, roommate's guests, etc.
- The right to free access to one’s room and facilities without pressure from a roommate.
- The right to personal privacy.
- The right to be free from fear or intimidation and physical or emotional harm.
- The right to have guests during visitation hours with the expectation that guests are to respect the rights of the host’s/hostess’s roommate and other hall residents.
- The right to expect reasonable cooperation in the use of the room telephone.