Office of Community Living

Roommate Conversation Resource Guide

A Guide to Getting Along with Your Roommate
Living with someone in a residence hall room is an enjoyable, exciting experience. It may also be a new experience to share a living space with someone, especially someone you do not know. You and your roommate(s) will share events of your lives, joys, frustrations, and in many cases, the same group of friends. In order to make this relationship as strong as possible, it is essential to communicate openly and effectively with each other. The next few paragraphs will offer suggestions on how to accomplish this.
As with any relationship, you and your roommate(s) will have to start from scratch. You are entering a new environment together, even if you have known your roommate prior to your arrival. This is the opportunity to begin communicating with your roommate.
Setting Up The Room
If you arrive in the room first, it is important to consider your roommate when beginning to arrange the furniture in your room, or picking a side to live on, etc. Of course, you are not expected to stop everything until your roommate arrives, but it is best to be flexible to change once your roommate arrives. If you have arrived at your room and your roommate has already set up the furniture, offer your opinions! Express your approval or any concerns in a constructive manner so you can work together to modify any problem areas. Do not settle for a situation that you are uncomfortable in and work to compromise so everyone feels comfortable with the arrangements. 
Starting the Conversation
Now that you've arrived, it is important to spend time learning about your roommate(s). Not only what high school they went to, etc. but what makes them an individual. Be open to conversation because it is best to know more about the person than nothing at all. Some suggestions for starting this type of conversation are:
1.      This summer I…
2.      I enjoy…
3.      I chose Siena College because…
4.      During my free time I…
5.      I like to be left alone when…
Continue these types of conversations through your first few days together. They can provide the foundation for a strong, healthy, relationship. Take turns responding to the different questions, and be open to answering any question that you are asking your roommate.
Setting Expectations
Although these introductory questions will provide the framework for your personal relationship, it is now important to establish guidelines for your room. These guidelines should be established at the latest by the second or third day that you're on campus. These guidelines are crucial to insuring that you and your roommate(s) will avoid any future conflicts over habits and expectations. Also, remember that this is not designed to last throughout the year. If in a few months, you should evaluate how things are working out and you should discuss any changes you want to make.
Remember that you and your roommate(s) may have different viewpoints on a certain issue. It is important that you feel comfortable voicing your opinions to your roommate(s) to prevent any future frustrations. If you are having difficulty coming to a compromise, please feel free to contact your RA or RD for suggestions.
            Study Habits
            The best time for me to study is:
            The environment I like to study in is:
            I can or cannot study with noise in the environment:
            I prefer to go to sleep at:
            I usually wake up at:
            The environment I like to sleep in is:
            I can sleep with the tv, stereo, computer on or off:
            Use of Possessions
            The following items can be shared:
            The following items cannot be shared:
            Room Condition
            The room should be cleaned how frequently:
            How clean would you prefer the room to be:
            How often do you make your bed:
            How should the room be cleaned:
            I like the following type of decorations:
            On weekends, I would like guests to leave by:
            On weekdays, I would like guests to leave by:
            We should have privacy to entertain guests under what conditions?
Are guests of the same gender permitted overnight? If so, how much notice should be given and under what circumstances?
            Friends and family should call the room no later than:
            Friends and family should call the room no earlier than:
            We should limit the length of time per call to:
            Messages will be left in the following manner:
Although these are some basic guidelines that will set up expectations, these are only the fundamentals for a strong roommate relationship. If you disagree on some issues, it is important to discuss your feelings and the behaviors that you wish to address.
Once you have lived with your roommate(s) for a few weeks, the above guidelines will become routine and you may feel the need to evaluate or revise some agreements. Openly discuss this with your roommate instead of changing your behavior without your roommate's knowledge or consent.
Once You Know Each Other
Some other things that you'll want to discuss are more personal and should be communicated after you have developed a basic relationship. The following questions will be helpful to you as you foster a strong relationship.
1.      My pet peeves are…
2.      I like to receive criticism by…
3.      Things I like best about you are…
4.      I relieve stress by…
5.      When I get upset, I …
6.      Something that is bothering me that I haven't told you is…
7.      I am hoping we can work on…
8.      I feel…when you…
Hopefully, these statements will help to facilitate communication between you and your roommate(s) Remember, many problems can be solved by discussing behaviors and your subsequent feelings. If you need help or suggestions in addressing a specific problem, feel free to contact your RA or RD. They will be able to offer advice or to give examples of effective ways to deal with difficult situations.
Some Tips For Getting Along
1.      Deal with one item (e.g. concern) at a time.
2.      Do not agree with something that the other person says if you do not believe it is true
3.      Do not assume or mind-read -> ASK!
4.      Avoid storing up frustrations until you reach your limit.
5.      Avoid digging up past history when you are discussing new concern.
6.      Do not over generalize: "You always..." or "You never..."
7.      Do not bring up topics about which the other person is especially sensitive.
8.      Work toward a compromise and a win/win result.
9.    Emphasize the positive as well as the negative.
10.  Know what the other pesron is asking for and what results they expect.


If You Are Not Able to Get Along
Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, you and your roommate still may have difficulties getting along. It is at this point that you should both speak with your RA or RD. The first thing that they will do is gather information about the problem. They will need to know what behaviors are concerns and what steps have been taken to remedy the situation. Also, they will ask how you would like the situation handled.
Don’t expect a room change if you have minor problems with your roommate(s). Everyone will experience disagreement from time to time. The RAs primary responsibility is to help you live in a more positive situation, and they may offer to facilitate a discussion between you and your roommate(s) in order to foster better communication.
Room changes are up the discretion of the RD and the Residential Life Office and are based on availability of open rooms. Remember that you frequently will not be able to choose the room to which you may move, so consider this when deciding if you feel that this is the most appropriate solution to the problem.
Most differences can be resolved by communicating with your roommate. It is strongly suggested that you attempt to solve the problems yourself, but if these attempts are unsuccessful, then you should feel free to seek assistance. Getting along with someone that you live with can be a rewarding experience. It will take time and energy, but the benefits of having a strong roommate relationship outweigh any struggles that you may encounter.