How to Have your Roommate Cooperate with You?

Bed for sleeping

Two Persons Under One Roof

2 persons in one roof

Among so many anxieties that you may have before you enter your university, one stands out prominently: who will be my roommate? Unless you are applying for a room together with someone you know, you will be randomly allocated with a person by the university’s hall allocation system. Most of the freshmen don’t get to stay in a single room and given the fact that most of the non-single rooms in local universities are for two students to share, you will be meeting your “significant other” (from the same gender of course) when you check into your room in a hall.

Your roommate may be in the same position as you, thinking about who you are, what you like, whether you are a nice person or if you two can get along with each other. While such worries are understandable, there are ways to reduce them. Digital Senior would like to share with you some tips on how to manage your relationship with your roommate and have a happy, fun and meaningful hall life.

Setting Expectations

On the first day when you meet your roommate, there are a few things that you need to settle; they all come under the idea of “setting expectations”. When people just know each other, they tend to be friendlier because of the desire to impress each other and to build the rapport. Hence at this stage, it is beneficial that you initiate a meeting with your roommate. By meeting, Digital Senior does not mean a serious conversation in a formal setting. It just means an uninterrupted period of time where two of you can talk about expectations with regard to many things that may happen in the future.


So what are the “things” Digital Senior is talking about? The first thing that you can talk about is probably some of your habits in your life. What time do you normally sleep and normally wake up? In fact, many problems with roommates happen when one wants to sleep and switch off the light but the other one is doing work and needs to use the light. Hence it is important that you find out each other’s sleeping arrangement right from the start. If two of you sleep around the same time, probably you can reach an agreement as to when to switch off the light. If two of you sleep at very different timing, it is important that you sort out the arrangement. Probably one could adjust to the other. If that is not possible, probably the one staying up late could use the light elsewhere, such as the TV rooms or study rooms which are easily available in a hall. In a word, you need to be always respectful and sensitive to the other person’s needs, so that it is easier for you to reach a common understanding.

Setting More Expectations

Other than sleeping, there are some other important issues to be addressed as well. There are instances where monetary expenditure is involved. For example, some halls in university have air-conditioners installed in every room and require students to pay extra fee for using the air-conditioners. Two of you may take the opportunity to find out each other’s needs for cool air: whether you need the cool air throughout the day or only when you are in sleep? How low do you want to set the temperature to be? Are you especially vulnerable to cold? Moreover, cleaning is also an important aspect of living on campus. You don’t want to live in a room with dust on the floor, do you? However, Digital Senior is sure that you also don’t want to do all the cleaning alone. Hence you may want to set up a cleaning schedule with your roommate. Two of you can take turn to clean the room at specified date in a month or you can clean the room together, enhancing your bonding at the same time. Whatever forms they takes, such important arrangements need to be settled and understood by both of you right the start.

Be Considerate

As you can see, we have spent a good amount of time on how to manage your mutual expectations. However, there are more things you may want to do to have a good relationship with your roommate. From our observation, being considerate is really the key to a happy life with your roommate. There are many moments where you can show your consideration to your roommates. For example, if your roommate is taking the afternoon nap, you can close the door quietly so as not to disturb him/her. If you roommate starts to read books, you may want to use earphones to listen to the music. Such little gestures of kindness will eventually be noticed by the other person, who will in turn reciprocate with same acts of consideration. Two of you will end up having a friction-free life.

What if there is Something Wrong with my Roommate?


Notice that none of the tips offered above involves using black magic to manipulate the mind of your roommate to make him a better person. This is because being a cooperative roommate yourself works better than black magic, at least in the long run. If you find something wrong with your room mate , it may be worthwhile to look at yourself, examine your actions and ask if you have been doing things correctly in the first place. This is not always easy but doing so will go a long way in having a cooperative roommate. Bestselling author, Stephen Covey coined the term “Emotional bank account” which is an account of trust between you and your roommate. Each time you do something considerate, you are making deposits to your relationship. On the other hand, favors are withdrawals to the account. If you have been kind to him and have a rich emotional bank account, getting him to mop the floor will not be a problem.

Of course, there are more things that you can do and many of them go without saying, such as having outing with your roommate to enhance your bonding. Ultimately, your roommate is your friend but also more than just a friend. He/she is sometime who shares the living space and a big portion of your life with you. Invest in the relationship and you will receive the return of your effort that is called long-term friendship


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