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The Ultimate Survival Guide For Moving In Together

The Ultimate Survival Guide For Moving In Together

Moving in together is a huge step for any relationship, so before you take it you must consider several key things. Then, when the time comes and it feels right, here’s a survival guide you can use to make the transition as easy as possible!

Lifestyle writer Sophie Osborne takes a look at how to survive moving in with your other half. What seems like the easiest decision in the world can often lead to arguments over the most trivial of things; power struggles ensue over where to rent, different paint shades, or who should pay what. Using our handy interactive tools, you can work out what suits you both and avoid falling into traps that could test the strength of your relationship. With expert tips, real life examples, and some fun advice along the way, discover how to move in, without falling out.

Should We Move In Together

So, you’re in love and you enjoy each other’s company? Maybe you’re starting to think about a future under a shared roof? Living together is a big, and let’s face it scary, deal. It’s natural to feel intimidated by the challenges.

Our Story

Like many couples, our path to finding and feathering our love nest wasn’t traditional. A whirlwind of all consuming L.O.V.E, stolen sleepovers and heady ‘honeymoon’ getaways. We quickly made the jump of living together but it wasn’t long before reality bit.
We moved to the Big Smoke, started new jobs and had to completely adapt our lifestyles at the same time. Our new habitat was a box room in an overpriced grotty flat-share with (ex) friends. It wasn’t a case of finding ‘the one’ for us. We’d trusted our housemate to find our home. Big mistake.
Surviving those humble, at times horrific, beginnings laid the foundations of our life together. We still laugh about the permanently sticky floors. The sink that bruised your knee each time you visited the loo. Picture a squat and you’re getting close. It sounds cheesy but we had everything we needed in that room: each other.
Since then we’ve experienced the (tears of) joy in renting our first solo apartment, the awkwardness of having to stay at the folks’, buying then selling our first property and moving again to our current home.

Knowing You’re Ready

Sometimes the merge can be gradual. An emergency pair of pants and a spare toothbrush often becomes a dedicated drawer. Sleepovers and spare keys become the norm. You might feel like you are simulating a home situation but making the change from ‘back to mine’ to ‘back to ours’ is worth careful consideration.
Every couple is unique, but what stage should you be at to know you’re ready to live together? Honest communication is key. Have you shared your goals and been clear about your expectations for the future?
It’s inevitable that moving in together will change things. Bear in mind best behaviours will soon fade to reveal odd habits. Romance gives way to routine. Be vocal if you have deal breakers at this point – maybe it’s time to reduce that record collection or edit your wardrobe?

Couples Mediator and Relationship Expert Debra Macleod recommends asking yourselves the following questions:

– Why are we moving in together?

– What is our goal?

– Is our cohabitation meant to be temporary or permanent?

– How will we handle housework?

Couples often have different reasons for living together – one partner may simply want to save money on rent. These kinds of assumptions can sink a couple’s chances for cohabiting success before they’ve even left the shore

Of course it may seem easier and cheaper when you’re spending so much time together to just move in but convenience should be a bonus. If you’re making the leap because it’s the ‘done’ thing then reconsider – you should want to live together. Trust your instincts; it should feel like a comfortable step rather than a risky leap.Moving in together is something that’s easy to do out of convenience. It makes it easier to spend time together, and it’s often a lot cheaper than living on one’s own. Many couples are not interested in marriage, which is fine; however, partners must be on the same page about this so that there are no conflicting expectations – Samantha Joel, MA

Looking For A House

Prepare

Congratulations if this is the stage you’re at. Not wanting to burst your blissful bubble, but finances have to come first. Money is a common cause of relationship problems so it’s crucial to get this right from the outset. There’s no avoiding these sensitive conversations to decide how you’re going to handle bills and costs. Bite the bullet, make budget plans and stick to them.

How are our expenses to be sorted out? Don’t assume that one partner paying rent and other paying bills will work out to be fair. You will also have to account for your different incomes: a 50/50 split may be not doable – Debra Macleod, Relationship Expert

You’ll also need to take into account any existing debts, organise insurance and individual security. Setting up a ‘Cohabitation Agreement’ as a record of ownership and responsibility ensures that neither of you lose out financially should you separate. Setting up automatic bill payments in advance will also save any issues later on.

It’s much harder to break up when you live together than when you don’t. You don’t want to end up continuing to date someone who isn’t actually a good match for you, just because you don’t want to have to split up your stuff, move out, etc. – Samantha Joel, M.A.

For more information about cohabitation agreements, you can check out advicenow.org

Search

Search engines, handy mobile apps and useful tailored tools make property research simpler. It will soon become clear that it’s not just about ‘location, location, location’. The best way to agree on what to compromise on is by identifying your priorities. A simple way to do this is creating a ‘needs vs wants’ list – do this alone first and then create your joint criteria to refine your search.

Designing the House

When you move your thoughts may soon turn from undressing each other to dressing your space. It’s fun and savvy to start to visualising your interior early on.

Inspire

Get creativity flowing by using imagery to help define your style. Be open to where you source inspiration – why not take a trip to an exhibition or design museum? Perhaps your favourite little café or store has details you can integrate? Books, magazines and Pinterest can be used for creating mood boards and MADExUnboxed is perfect for taking a sneak peek into real homes.

Collaborate

Decoration can be something enjoyed together regardless of DIY skills. Establish mutual sense of ownership, share ideas and take interest in each other’s desires; get excited about making a home together. Harmony takes teamwork but you’re bound to disagree. If you can’t agree then let a game of ‘rock, paper, scissor’ decide.

Personalise

You may have very different (or even bizarre) individual tastes but this can result in some of the most creative and interesting design. By mixing and matching pieces, blending styles and eras you’ll create an environment unique to you as a couple. A well-loved home will tell your story through memories and mementoes. Art, photographs and accessories are a great way to do this and add interest.

Make sure there is at least one element in each room that really represents each of you separately – these don’t have to be huge pieces, perhaps a small accessory or piece of wall art. Then work together to purchase or find the larger statement pieces. This way, your room is largely about the two of you together but still combines elements of your distinct personalities.
– Alessandra Wood, Design Historian

Plan

Shopping can, and should be enjoyable – the secret is in the planning. Establish what you’re working with by using a floor plan and taking measurements (this bit is important). Set budgets to keep you on track, allowing for a few luxuries. It helps to prioritise which areas need immediate attention and which can wait.

Optimise

Regardless of budget, space is often the biggest luxury and cause of conflict. Clever storage hides a multitude of nick-nacks and consider multi-functional pieces and multi usage of rooms.

Living In Harmony

It’s easy to get wrapped up in your cosy life together, but don’t confuse comfort with complacency. Share lazy weekends eating takeout in your pyjamas but don’t let that become the daily routine. Try to focus on being a partner first then a roommate and you’ll be certain to keep that spark.Appreciate that it won’t always be exciting but there should always be excitement. Create traditions, organise date nights, shake up your routines and try new things together – it could be as simple as trying a new recipe or switching off the TV to have a dance to your favourite tunes.Research suggests that the key to maintaining the “spark” in long-term relationships is to continue to do new, exciting things together. Break the routine by doing something that’s a little out of your comfort zone. – Samantha Joel, M.A.Allocate dedicated chores based on preference but make changes to your responsibilities whenever possible to keep it enjoyable. Personal space is essential – just because you live together don’t feel like you need to spend 24/7 together. If space is an issue then simply request some – whether it’s a long soak in the tub or a quiet spot to read in, everyone needs a private sanctuary.Respect and support each other as individuals making time for separate social activities and hobbies but demonstrate interest. Maintaining a joint social life having friends that you see regularly is a great way to have fun as a couple. Open up your home to entertain guests.Keep your environment fresh with seasonal updates and new accessories. Rotate furniture layouts (aka ‘musical chairs’) and reconsider details; small changes make a big difference.

Design Historian Alessandra Wood recommends:

– Layer lighting so you can control the atmosphere and mood of your space. Perhaps you’d like a romantic dinner or bright lights under which to play a game. Use a mixture of overhead lighting, lamps, and task lighting to create innumerable atmospheres to strike a mood within your space

– Don’t be afraid to indulge in a few special luxuries that will make your home feel like a fancy spa. Great towels and sheets, fluffy blankets and throws, and plush rugs will make your home feel like a paradise. When you love where you live and all the things inside, it makes living with another person much easier!”

It takes a certain level of patience and emotional understanding to maintain harmony. Need to talk? Get out of the house; as much as you love your space, nothing beats getting out of those four walls to reconnect, keeping home sweet home.

About The Author:

Sophie Osborne: Freelance Writer /  ‘s Editor Intern 2013 / Magazine Addict / Mama to be.

A Survival Guide For Couples About To Move In Together | Made

Featured photo credit: Retro Chair in an Old Pub via picjumbo.com

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Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan is a passionate writer sharing about motivation and happiness tips on Lifehack.

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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