Healthy roommate communication leads to better overall well-being

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Gianluca Cuestas
Roommates Jayne Verhaaren, left, and Caroline Macfarlane find ways to communicate in their apartment. (Gianluca Cuestas)

Healthy communication between roommates can benefit all walks of student life, according to BYU psychology junior Maya Ricks.

Ricks said healthy communication between roommates is key to overall well-being, success and happiness.

“An apartment filled with tension can lead to anxiety, anger and resentment. Studies have strongly linked mental and emotional health with physical health. Anxiety alone can cause stomach problems, sleeping difficulties and headaches,” Ricks said.

Tension festering throughout the semester between roommates can affect a student academically or even mentally, according to Ricks. She said healthy communication is the key to staying on top of things in school and staying mentally strong.

BYU public health junior Danielle Chapman also stressed the importance of healthy communication within students’ apartments.

“I think healthy communication with anyone you are trying to live with is very important,” Chapman said. “If you want to be happy, frequent communication is essential.”

Many modes of healthy communication can help prevent conflict and promote better mutual understanding and friendship.

Open, honest communication
Both Ricks and Chapman highlighted the importance of talking openly and honestly with those they live with.

“Open and honest communication is paramount in any personal relationship, from friends to significant others,” Ricks said. “If you’re lying to each other or hiding feelings, it creates resentment. Small disagreements grow into large conflicts.”

BYU public relations junior Jayne Verhaaren agrees.

“I have found that communicating openly with my roommates has not only allowed us to become closer, but also has helped us avoid conflict,” Verhaaren said.

Brad Farnsworth, a religious education faculty member and former mission president, said turning off devices while talking to each other leads to good, honest communication. He said this can enhance the quality of the conversation.

Compromise is key
Farnsworth said all good relationships are built on compromise. He believes developing patience and being willing to sacrifice is a key factor in healthy communication between roommates.

“Students need to know that there are some things that you just can’t control,” Farnsworth said. “You can control yourself, but there are some things you need to learn to accommodate. So that is where you learn to compromise and develop patience with one another.”

Ricks said she wants roommates to understand it “isn’t uncommon to be forced out of your comfort zone when learning to communicate with a roommate.”

Families deal with problems and disagreements differently, according to Ricks. Similarly, in order for roommates to communicate properly, Ricks said mutual cooperation is necessary.

Be a good listener
Listening to roommates may be the foundation of healthy communication, according to Farnsworth.

Farnsworth acknowledged that the Savior himself was a great listener, and striving to implement good listening habits will benefit roommate dialogue. He also mentioned listening to the impressions of the spirit will add value to the conversation.

“When listening to the impressions of the spirit, you have a better understanding of what to do and what kind of advice to give, if any,” Farnsworth said. “When you talk about the Savior, I think one of the reasons he was so wise is that he listened, assessed the situation, waited and then knew when to teach and offer counsel.”

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