Talk to your roommate.
We can’t stress this enough. Don’t avoid conversations because you’re afraid that they might be awkward. This doesn’t mean you have to be best buds who share everything, but if your roommate does something inappropriate, you should let him know. If you let problems pile up without addressing them, the relationship will start to sour. Address issues as they come up, and you’ll be able to defuse them more easily.
Tips to effectively address the problem.
Passive-aggressive notes don’t work. Few people like confrontation; one sure way to make it worse is to leave a note. Without hearing the issue from you, your roommate will take the note how they interpret it, often times not how you intended. Approach your roommate in private when you both have time to talk.
Timing. Addressing the problem when you get angry may not be the best option. In the heat of the moment people say and do things they may later regret. Instead, take the time to calm down and approach your roommate when everyone is in a better mood. You’ll get better results!
Check yourself. Before you talk to your roommate, know your role! Take responsibility for your actions and behavior that may have played a part of the problem. Remember you might not be the best roommate either. Use “I” statements to explain how you feel. “You” statements are more accusative. “You” statements are also refutable – but your roommate cannot flat-out reject an “I” statement.
DON’T: “You always leave your dirty dishes in the sink. You are such a slob.”
DO: “I feel stressed out when there are dishes in the sink. I’d appreciate if you could wash your dishes more often so I can cook when I need to. Please keep in mind that I also need to use this shared space.”
Be direct… And honest and nice. Talk to your roommate how you would like to be spoken to by someone with a criticism for you. Make sure each person has a chance to talk and be heard.
“Let it go”. One the problem is resolved or a compromise is worked out, it’s over, PERIOD. Don’t let one problem infect the entire roommate relationship. Remember that a solution will most likely involve giving and getting something for each person. While it may not be ideal for you, remember that this solution is helping to make your situation more livable.
If you and your roommate(s) cannot come to a solution together, you can always seek the help of your RA. RA’s are trained mediators and can help to see both sides of the story and think of solutions. Additionally, Housing and Residence Life staff will require a roommate mediation, roommate agreement, and meeting with a staff member prior to consideration of a room change.