Healthy Roommate Communication

Roommate Conflicts and How to Handle Them:

It is normal to have roommate conflicts in college or in general.  Here are a few ways to overcome these issues:

Communicate! Communication is vital when it comes to roommate issues.  Although it may not seem like it, it is usually easier to speak with your roommate about the issue sooner rather than later. Here are some ways to communicate with your roommate:

  • Face to face: It is better to address the issue face to face rather than over the phone, over an email, etc. Misunderstandings are much easier to avoid when you are talking to your roommate in-person.
  • Go directly to your roommate: Don’t discuss the issue behind your roommate’s back! This will almost certainly cause a break in the trust between yourselves.
  • Be direct about the situation: Don’t twist words around and make the conversation confusing. Be clear and straightforward about how you feel about the situation.
  • Listen: Communication has two different aspects- talking and listening. If you are the only person talking in the conversation, your roommate may feel like they’re being attacked. Make sure that they understand that they have a say in the conversation and that you are willing to listen to what they have to say and how they feel. Focus on what the other person is saying rather than trying to figure out what you are going to say next.
  • Start the conversation gently: Make sure that it is a good time for both of you to talk about the occurring issue. If your roommate was not expecting the conversation or else feels attacked that could lower the efficiency of the conversation.
  • Revisit the roommate contract: If you remember the roommate contract you and your roommate agreed on in the beginning of the semester, you can easily refer back to it if the circumstance is relevant.
  • Compromise: Be willing to compromise if it will help the situation in the long run. Remember that both you and your roommate will more than likely have to compromise on things if you want your issues resolved. Know which issues you are willing to compromise on and which ones you feel you cannot.
  • Set Expectations: It is important to make sure that expectations are clear and possible for both of you. Know the parameters in which both of you can act within and make sure to follow your roommate’s expectations for yourself if you expect them to follow your expectations for them.
  • Respect the other roommate: Listen to what your roommate has to say and respect their points on the issue. Be open-minded and don’t disregard their choices. Respect their wishes and be willing to compromise to make those wishes work for the both of you.
  • Apologize and forgive: If you are wrong about something in the conversation, own up to it and apologize. You also must be able to accept your roommate’s apology and forgive them for upsetting you. Be mature- everyone makes mistakes.
  • Don’t involve other people: These conflicts are between you and your roommate. There is no need to bring other peers into the situation. As roommates, you should be able to speak openly about how you feel and what you each can do to resolve your conflict.
  • Accept each other’s differences: Know and understand that your roommate came from a different background than you and may be more sensitive to issues that you may not hold as important. Be sensitive towards how they may be feeling.
  • Look for agreement areas: Although you and your roommate are meeting to discuss a conflict you are having, look for some areas where you both can agree and create a common ground.

Having a disagreement with a roommate can be difficult and stressful. Paired along with the stress of college life these disagreements are not ideal, but it is always best to try and work out your differences before you decide that you don't want to live with them anymore. Communicate with your roommate! It could just be a simple misunderstanding.