- Learn the difference between a pet peeve and spiteful behavior
- Use the Matthew 18 Principle to discuss the behavior with your roommate
Pet Peeves Versus Spiteful Behavior
Most annoying behaviors are not done to offend other roommates. Habits like repetitive tapping or loud chewing noises can be bothersome, but do not need to cause conflict. Ask yourself if a roommate’s annoying behavior is merely a pet peeve or obnoxious behavior. A pet peeve is just a personal preference like leaving a light on when leaving a room. Obnoxious behavior is spitefully acting out in ways that annoy other roommates on purpose.
Determine How Bad It Is
Not all behaviors should be addressed. Consider how the behavior is affecting your wellbeing and relationship with the roommate.
How Does the Behavior Affect You?
- Is this behavior hurting your relationship with the roommate?
- Do you find yourself avoiding the roommate?
How Does the Behavior Affect Other Roommates and Guests?
- Does this behavior hurt relationships between roommates?
- Do you avoid bringing guests over to your apartment because of the roommate’s behavior?
Address the Nuisance with Love
It can be difficult to know how to discuss a problem behavior. Remember to treat your roommate the way you’d like to be treated if you had a similar behavior. Jesus Christ has provided counsel for how to address this situation with love. This is commonly called the Matthew 18 Principle.
Step 1: Discuss the Behavior with Kindness.
"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone." (Matthew 18:15)
Identify an appropriate time you can speak privately with your roommate about the behavior. In a calm and kind voice, talk with your roommate about the behavior and how it affects you. Use “I” statements when sharing your feelings and avoid shaming and combative language. Most people are unaware that a behavior bothers someone else and are willing to accommodate change. Jesus says that, “If he shall hear thee, thou hast gain thy brother.”
“I have trouble studying when music is played loud.”
“I feel embarrassed when I see dirty laundry on the floor.”
“I feel discouraged when dirty dishes are left in the sink.”
Step 2: Hold an Apartment Council to Discuss the Behavior.
"But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more." (Matthew 18:16)
If a roommate’s annoying behavior affects more than just you but also other roommates, hold an apartment council to discuss the behavior with kindness and understanding. Take responsibility for your feelings and be careful not to embarrass your roommates. It is more likely your roommate will listen when it’s more than just you that is being affected by a behavior.
Step 3: Get Help from Your Housing Manager.
"And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church." (Matthew 18:17)
Get help from housing manager and the Housing and Student Living Office, or an ecclesiastical leader that can help you and your roommate resolve the conflict. Refer to the Roommate Guide for additional tips and ideas to resolve conflict.