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7 Struggles You and Your Roommates Don’t Need To Always Go Through

7 Struggles You and Your Roommates Don’t Need To Always Go Through

There may be many reasons that inspire you to share a room or living space with someone during your lifetime. Perhaps you are studying and living in halls, or maybe you have just moved in with a partner and are beginning to share bills and living costs. You may even be sharing space as a way of reducing the daily cost of living, with a view to saving more and building towards a longer-term financial goal.

Living with others can take its toll over time; however, as it can create significant issues regarding finances, cleanliness and the invasion of personal space. Many of these struggles can be easily avoided, so long as you enter the arrangement with an open mind and are fully prepared for what lies ahead.

Here are some examples of common problems facing roommates.

1. You struggle to share and pay household bills

Whenever you share a living space, it is important to distribute the responsibility and payment of bills fairly. While you have the autonomy to share recurring bills in a fair way that suits each individual and takes into account their own requirements, this sudden change in your financial circumstances can cause tension and confusion in terms of repayment dates. You will therefore need to negotiate to create an arrangement that satisfies everyone involved.

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Thanks to technology these days,automated tools such as Unbill can help you evenly split and pay bills automatically. This type of all-in-one payment solution comprehensively resolves the financial issues facing roommates.

2. You struggle to manage other shared responsibilities

On a similar note, you may have additional responsibilities that force you and a roommate to invest both money and time. This can also become problematic over time, especially if roles are not clearly defined and one individual believes that they are doing more than the other. Take the ownership of a pet, for example, which consumes a huge amount of time and also triggers a number of recurring annual fees.

You must therefore have a clearly defined plan for managing this responsibility, both in terms of sharing fees and distributing the workload of tasks, such as grooming and ensuring that your pet gets their daily exercise. You should also look to be proactive and ease the burden of pet ownership where possible.

3. You struggle to understand and communicate with one another

Unless you choose to share a living space with an old and trusted friend, you may struggle to fully understand and communicate with your roommate. Even with a pre-existing relationship, individuals can evolve and develop interests that you find unusual or even unappealing.

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In order to maintain a prosperous friendship and harmonious living arrangement, it is therefore crucial that you look to maintain open lines of communication at all times, while looking to identify any potential issues or concerns before they have a detrimental impact on the relationship.

4. You struggle to maintain a tidy home

Cleanliness is a divisive issue at the best of times, as we each have our own individual standards and ideas of what constitutes a tidy and clean interior. It can therefore represent a major struggle between roommates, as one looks to maintain a pristine interior while the other is happy to live in a cluttered or slightly messy space. You can only avoid this issue by addressing it in a proactive manner, as you each share your expectations and the standards that you hope to be maintained over time.

This will lay the foundations for a productive cleaning rotation, which distributes tasks fairly and according to each individual’s standards. You will also need to be willing to compromise; however, as it is only fair that you should assume responsibility for the majority of the cleaning if you have more exacting standards.

5. You struggle to prevent the kitchen from becoming a war zone

House or flat sharing also requires you to share each individual room. This can create a number of potential issues in popular and communal spaces such as the kitchen. This can quickly become a battleground, especially in instances where you or one of your roommates owns the property in question. Sharing a kitchen requires patience, tolerance, and most importantly organisation, as otherwise tensions will rise while mess and chaos reign supreme.

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The first step is to organise food and drink supplies, ensuring that you either contribute equally to a communal source or have your own carefully marked and separated items. You must then determine core cooking and cleaning duties, whether you use a fairly apportioned rotation or ensure that each individual has responsibility for cleaning their own mess or space. Clarity is crucial to this process, while responsibilities must be agreed upon and clearly communicated at all times.

6. You struggle to cope with external relationships

We have already discussed how evolving relationships can make it difficult for roommates, but this becomes even more challenging when sharing a living space with another couple. This type of external relationship can even pose a problem if your roommate and their partner live apart, as you are forced to deal with an outside influence that can place a strain on your friendship and arrangement.

So long as your roommate and their partner remain empathetic, this should not cause a huge issue. The main problem may well revolve around your own feelings and insecurities, especially if you feel inadequate when you are not involved in a long-term relationship. If this is the case, you must look to deal with feelings in a proactive manner, and address them prior to moving in with others.

7. You struggle to respect one another’s privacy

Maintaining privacy and personal space is a huge issue for roommates, even those who know each other well. In fact, this kind of familiarity can breed even more significant issues, as boundaries can easily be worn down and blurred over time. It therefore makes it difficult to maintain personal boundaries, which in turn makes it easier to cross these and create tension in relationships.

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To avoid this, you must create a list of core rules that remain unchanged regardless of the changes in your friendship. These include not entering your house-guest’s rooms while they are not there, while you should always knock before invading their own private space. You will also need to understand each other’s tolerances and factor these into any rules.

Featured photo credit: Couple of young men talking on the stairs of an office via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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