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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 February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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