Keep Communal Living Harmonious
The key to communal living is respect. Often in shared living situations, you don’t get to choose who you’re thrown in with – that’s normally the discretion of the landlord. So you may be put with people who are completely different from you. While you might not understand the way they are or the things they do, you need to be respectful and tolerant – if it doesn’t affect you, don’t get involved.“Respect, tolerance, gratitude, compassion, flexibility and consideration are necessary for success when sharing,” the team from the International Authority for Professional Coaching & Mentoring (IAPC&M) advise. “Respect each other’s space; be considerate of diversity and appreciate the differences between you, respect each other’s possessions, such as food in the fridge, clothes and toiletries. Pay your fair share of the bills on time.
Deal With Conflict Amicably
In a house filled with different personalities – particularly at times when you need to sort out finances or communal chores – it’s almost impossible to avoid clashes. But if you’re feeling tension, IAPC&M say the best thing to do is talk it out, being sure to remain tolerant and respectful of different opinions throughout.“Don’t go to bed upset about something, deal with it directly by addressing the behaviour. Try to appreciate the situations of others and be understanding – seek to understand.”
But if you feel things escalate IAPC&M say it’s perfectly ok to walk away from toxic situations, writing down how you feel and approaching the situation again at a different time when you’ve both calmed down.
Mark Winwood, Director of Psychological Services at AXA PPP healthcare, adds that when it comes to the typical things that housemates argue over, like communal spending and bills, there are some great apps that’ll diffuse tension by helping you split these kinds of costs, like Splittr - so you’ll never have to argue over whose turn it is to buy toilet roll ever again.
Get To Know Your Housemates (Without Being Intrusive)
When you’re young, the best way to get to know new people is to go out on a pub crawl and get to know each other over a bottle of wine or two (followed by shots and a bad morning-after headache). But as you get older, this doesn’t seem such a viable option, particularly when you’ve got a full-time job to drag yourself to the next day. So how do you get to know your new roomies in the comfort of your own home without being intrusive? It’s not like you can burst into their room without any notice – we’re not at university anymore.
“It’s important to respect each other’s personal space,” Winwood says. “This sounds easy, but it relies on understanding what the term means to the other person. Don’t be too full-on – allowing each other to settle can go a long way in establishing the beginning of friendships. Just use your intuition: simply ask how their day is going and gauge from their response whether they want to engage.”
When it comes to what kind of things to ask, IAPC&M suggest keeping the conversation light and open. “Who, what, when, where, which and how are your best friends when it comes to enjoying an open conversation that flows. It shows you’re interested in the answer and allows you to listen – people love to talk, particularly if they’re being heard and understood.”
Be Polite When Having Guests Over
It might feel like living with your mum all over again, but it’s polite to ask your fellow housemates if it’s ok to have a friend come and stay, particularly if you’ll be using the communal living space (if your friend is sleeping on the sofa, for example). “Ask permission and keep everyone informed – no one likes to wake up, go into the bathroom and find a stranger flossing in there. Ask in advance if everyone’s ok with it, and fill them in with how many people will be there and for how long. Once agreed honour the boundaries – that includes explaining the lay of the land to your houseguest.”
Keep Your Housemates In The Loop
As adults, it’s important to remember your housemates are likely to have a certain amount of responsibility, like jobs to get up for in the morning. That’s why, if you’re having a late one, let them know you’re going to be back late, and try to keep it down when you come home. It’s also important to let them know what you’re doing from a safety perspective: “If you decide in the spur of the moment not to come home in the middle of the night, leaving a text or voicemail takes two seconds and can prevent a lot of chaos the following morning,” IAPC&M say.
“After all, you don’t want your housemates to report you as missing because you didn’t let them know you weren’t coming home – plus, you’ll then have to deal with the fallout from that.” Furthermore, if you get into the habit of texting when you’re not coming home, if anything did happen to you, then your lack of text might alert them to something being wrong.