Flatmates – the first few days are crucial
When you’re a kid, making friends is a straightforward process. Give them something you have, and they want. Friends for life.
When you’re an adult, there are layers of complexity. Experience has shaped you, unconscious bias has been learned, and boundaries have been established.
As we navigate the stressors of professional life and mounting “busyness”, we become more protective of our precious “me time” and – if we do go out – seek comfort in a social circle of familiars. New relationships tend to be treated more tentatively than once they were, as we try to work out if the unknown entity is a friend or foe.
Nowhere is the balancing act between warm enthusiasm and cautious investigation so delicate as in the new flatmate relationship. (Especially when your co-habitor is someone you don’t really know.)
Since a lot of us, at some point, will end up setting up home with relative strangers, here are some basic starters on how to begin that complicated relationship on the right footing.
1. Remember and repeat their name
It’s a politician’s trick. Say their name, then say it again. The warmer the tone of your voice in those early days, the better. According to Dale Carnegie, author of How To Win Friends and Influence People, “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language”. So overuse it at first and you’ll start the relationship strong.
2. Make the other person feel important — and mean it
According to poet and writer Maya Angelo:
“People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”
So in the first week, take the time to make them feel seen and appreciated. Try asking for advice on life or work matters. Working on a report? Reach out for their two cents. Starting a fitness regime? Ask them to share their tips. It’s a good way to let them know you value their opinion.
3. Ask Them Out
There’s no ground like neutral ground. Early on in your flatmate relationship, it’s a great move to suggest a local drink or meal outside of the home. With a touch more formality, you can gently establish house rules and talk through admin, as well as marking the beginning of the relationship with positivity.
4. Be a fantastic listener
It’s so easy to chat nervously when meeting someone for the first time, but far better to ask questions and listen. According to the Harvard Business Review, being a good listener isn’t about being passive and silent as someone talks. It’s about engaging, encouraging and chipping in intelligently:
“Good listeners are like trampolines. They are someone you can bounce ideas off of — and rather than absorbing your ideas and energy, they amplify, energize, and clarify your thinking.”
5. Make household chores and bills seamless (and fair)
The cause of strife in shared living is bills, so try and make the process as simple as possible. If you’re very efficient, use Trello to visualise and share household chores. HomeHero to organise the bills in one place. And card services like Monzo to make paying each other back easy.
Good night and good luck.
HomeHero is a digital home manager, taking care of your chores, bills, maintenance and admin, to free up your time for what matters most.