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We all love having a good laugh at house-mates leaving Post-it gems such as, “I had sex on your bed. Don’t use your pillow”, but if you are the one dealing with a bitch of a flatmate, it’s not so funny.

Before you pack your, or their, bags though, read on…

Set some ground rules

To help avoid reaching the stage where you want to, well, kill your flatmate, make sure there are ground rules in place from the offset. If you are moving into a house share, ask what the rules are and if there’s something you think is missing, suggest it. If you are moving in with friends, before you even sign anything, have a chat about what you expect from your arrangement.

Karen Meager, a coach at Monkey Puzzle Training & Consulting, suggests you ask: “Why do you want to share? For money reasons or social? How long are you looking to share for? What is your attitude to tidiness and cleanliness, your possessions – sharing or mine is mine – other people staying over, personal space, and so on? The more similar you are in these respects, the easier life will be.”

Founder of Think Confidence coaching and author of Brilliant Self-Confidence, Mike McClement, adds, “You should discuss in advance how you’ll let each other know if you’ve got an issue.”

On the front line

Generally in a group of people there is one person who is more organised and better at dealing with conflict than the others. This person can, officially or unofficially, become the household ‘manager’. To work out who this is, has a number of free questionnaires that you should all (honestly) complete, and use the results to help assign different tasks of the household to each person. 

If an issue does arise, first of all suss out if it really is them who has the problem, not you. “Look at yourself first. Are you over-reacting or being too fussy?” McClement asks. Perhaps drop it into a conversation with your other housemates, but be careful not to ‘gang up’ on the person in question.

If they agree it is a problem, elect someone to address the situation. “I suggest you start with a low-level intervention,” Meager adds. “Address it early so that resentment doesn’t build up, and try to see it from their perspective too.”

Rafael Dos Santos, author of Moving Abroad – One Step At A Time, says the time and place you approach the matter is also very important: “Invite them to the pub and have a chat over a beer or glass of wine. A relaxing environment will make it easier to have a difficult chat.”  

Alternatively, you could hold a regular house meeting where you address any problems and resolve to come up with a solution there and then. “It sounds very serious, but this is the best way to solve conflict when a lot of people are involved,” Dos Santos says.


Living with the enemy: How to deal with housemates from hell!
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