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Thursday, June 13
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

COLUMN: Be intentional with your roommate relationships

Because IU is such a diverse community, there are very few things students have in common. Maintaining a relationship with one or multiple roommates is something almost every student has had to go through. Even the ones lucky enough to get their own room in a dorm probably have to share a bathroom or kitchen space. Roommates have a significant impact on our daily life and can either cause us a lot of happiness or a lot of stress.

We should be intentional in maintaining these roommate relationships by purposely learning how to communicate well, because a negative or even less than positive relationship with someone you share space with can lead to problems and anxiety.

According to research done at IU and Ohio State, the habits and beliefs of our roommates can significantly impact our diets, study habits and even openness to other cultures. Having a roommate that is watching their weight is likely to cause you to do the same thing. Living with someone who constantly plays video games may keep you from studying nearly as well as you could.

I have a friend who lives in an apartment with a few other people. They mostly communicate with snarky, passive-aggressive Post-it notes left on the fridge. She constantly has stories of things they do that cause her stress, but she is not able to solve them because they do not have a good relationship or communicate well. Often times she loses money or sleep because they leave the hallway lights on late at night, eat her food without asking or turn the heat up to a point where she is uncomfortable in her own room.

A positive relationship with your roommate can result in you picking up new and good habits while mitigating the likelihood of bad ones. The best way to keep your relationship positive is by learning how to communicate with your roommates.

There are a bunch of different vague tips we have all heard about communicating that might be good ideas but are not always easy or practical to implement. Being told to “listen to understand and not to respond” or “pay attention to body language” may help when talking to your best friend about politics, but it does very little to help you tell your roommate he needs to stop leaving his half-empty dishes all over the room.


The best way to improve your communication with someone is to understand how they communicate. We all grow up through different experiences, and therefore we all have different ways of getting our message across. Now, you may not be able to ever figure out all the intricacies of your roommates' communication style, and you may not want to, but the more you know about the way they express themselves, the better prepared you are to speak their language and understand what they're saying.

John Maxwell, an author and public leader in leadership and communication, says the best thing you can do to communicate well with another is to understand them. Understand who your roommate is and where they are coming from and all of your conversations with them will be far easier. And the better your relationship with your roommate, the lower your stress level will be.

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