The First 30 Days of College Success: Set up “rules of respect”

Day 2: Talk to your roommate about “rules of respect.” Your roommate, who most likely is a total stranger to you, is a very important person in your life. You may spend a lot of time with that person or you may not, but chances are, you each have your own ways in living together in a shared space and will intersect a lot. In an effort to be friends and get along, it appears easier not to talk about things rather than talking through “ground rules” for getting along and respecting one another’s space. It’s better to have a mutual understanding and respect about what is important to each of you upfront than to play the “suck it up silent treatment” which doesn’t really work, especially for things that cross the line with your values and self-respect. When a conflict arises, you can always point to the “rules of respect” that you both create rather than pointing at one another.

Boundaries are important for getting along well. Your communication can be as simple as saying, “Hey, I’m looking forward to a great roommate relationship with you. In an effort to create some smooth sailing, let’s talk about what is important to each of us and how we can respect one another’s routine, values, and relationships—and create some rules of respect we both will abide by. You can even talk about how to talk about a conflict when it arises. Agreement is much more powerful than assumptions. In golf, everybody knows where the out of bounds stakes are. They are clearly marked so you can hit away from them, not to them! If you will take the time to establish some good “rules of respect” with your roommate from the start, and not be afraid to communicate, you are setting yourself up for a good relationship straight down the fairway! If it works for golf, it will work for you!

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