Ask The Experts: Is It A Bad Idea To Live With My Co-Workers?

They may be your favorite people in the office, but is living with your co-workers awesomely convenient or a terrible, terrible idea?

When you are starting out, or living in an expensive city (we're looking at you New York and San Francisco) roommates can be a necessity. But while your co-workers are awesome to spend 9 to 5 with, do you want to deal with their dirty dishes and late night guests?

Hi,

What are your thoughts on co-workers getting too close?

I recently moved in with three of my co-workers, and since we have similar work hours and budgets, it seemed like a natural fit. A month into the living situation, things are getting a little tense. We see each other at work, and then at home, and I’m beginning to regret this decision. We were friends before, but now we barely speak, except to say, “Whose turn is it to do dishes?”

Should cohabitating with co-workers be a no-no?

Thanks,

R.T.


Dear R.T.,

I can't tell you if you should or shouldn't live with your co-workers. Only you can decide if you want to move out. But before you pack your bags and take to craigslist, consider how you can improve the relationship.

Every relationship, whether with roommates, co-workers, family, or spouses, requires work.

You can’t do it all alone, of course, but here are some thoughts on how you can do your part to improve the relationships at the core of your issue.

Courtship. The best relationships have the best courtship--of any kind, not just romantic. We have better relationships with those who truly work on it rather than waiting for it to improve itself. All human bonds are built on taking time to know each other and being thoughtful and attentive.

Communication and Candor. Relationships require communication. When something is bothers you (like not taking the garbage out or a constant parade of guests, let your roommates know--clearly, calmly and non-confrontationaly. When they respond, listen--with a goal of understanding, not just planning your next reply.

You might not agree 100% on what's reasonable, but hopefully you'll come to a compromise. Nothing shows more strength than speaking from candor. For relationships to work you have to speak truthfully while also honoring differences.

Connection and Collaboration. For relationships to work, you have to work on keeping connected--feeling, seeing, and valuing your co-workers/roommates, without judgment. Remember why you liked them and wanted to live together in the first place--what did you enjoy doing together? Has it fallen by the wayside?

Doing things together creates and strengthens your bond, so think of mutually interesting ways you can spend time together--make dinner together, clean the apartment together, watch TV together. Collaboration builds a bond, and bonds build friendship.

Consideration. Give the consideration of personal space and the need for time apart. Be respectful of the space you share and of others’ possessions, routines, and preferences.

To make any relationship work takes time, takes energy, and both people willing to work. Relationships are a two-way street--but you can do everything to keep your side of the street healthy and positive.

Living with your co-workers might not have been the best decision, but if you work on it, it can still work out.

Wishing you the best,

Lolly


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[Image: Flickr user Fabio Sola Penna]

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