By Kaleb Zenk
Where’d all the dishes come from?
Rooming with someone we don’t know particularly well can leave us at odds: stressed out, worried, and full of anxiety! We take our space seriously, and rightfully so, but it can be especially difficult when two individuals’ habits and behaviors collide.
The truth is, you will probably have more than one roommate during the course of your life, and why not learn to overcome some of those obstacles now? It is a journey of the most rewarding kind to learn how to better communicate and navigate possible issues that might arise while having a roommate.
Take on this mantra to have a better relationship with your roommate: Strategize more. Stress less.
ETIQUETTE 1: COMMUNICATION
The most critical part of being a better roommate is to communicate your feelings clearly, even if it might seem out of your comfort zone to be assertive and ask for things you need. The bottom line is half of the room is your space, too. You must speak up if something is bothering you because allowing problems to pile up can only hinder the initial jump into better communication.
Each person has a different set of idiosyncrasies or behaviors that are particular only to them. Many are not acutely aware of these behaviors, which can create a perpetual cycle of bad habits. How then would you tell your roommate what they’re doing is driving you nuts?
For one, compose yourself and have a conversation with your roommate so they can begin correcting certain behaviors they might be unaware of. Talk to your roommate before the end of the semester. Not only will the issues between you and your roommate pile up, but also finals will pile up, creating even more stress and tension.
If this doesn’t work and you are desperate to solve the issues between you and your roommate, talking to your resident assistant (RA) and asking them to mediate is advisable.
ETIQUETTE 2: BOUNDARY SETTING
Again, one of the most important actions you can take to have a better relationship with your roommate is to communicate earlier rather than later. One way you can streamline the communication process is to start setting boundaries which keeps both you and your roommate accountable.
Who’s going to clean the dishes on what day? Who’s going to clean the bathroom? Who’s going to replenish the paper in the printer? Who’s going to vacuum? There are a lot of responsibilities you don’t necessarily think of when it’s just your space, but now that someone is living three feet away from you, it’s time to start thinking strategically how you can accomplish all the tasks without having to remind each other.
One way you can accomplish and share some of these tasks is to create a calendar both you and your roommate can visibly see.
ETIQUETTE 3: RESPECT YOUR ROOMMATE
Undoubtedly, you and your roommate will have issues. And this is what we have to say about that: Strategize more. Stress less.
Don’t let the actions of your roommate affect your attitude and happiness elsewhere. It’s easy to take that tension outside of the room and vent about it to your friends, but most importantly, what does that say about yourself and your communication habits?
How you talk about your roommate to other people may instill a set of bad habits in yourself, which could reflect poorly on you. If you’re complaining about your roommate’s habits and behaviors instead of choosing to tackle them in a straightforward manner, others may think you can’t solve issues with them, or worse, your friends may think you’re bad mouthing them too!
Keep the annoyances of your roommate out of the conversation and focus on how you can solve them privately. Learning to talk one on one with your roommate will help you be a more positive individual and possibly learn to like your roommate! We tend to like people who listen to us and are able to effectively solve issues together. Let the strategy in your dorm room affect how you become a better overall communicator.