I live in co-operative housing. It has many good things going for it including affordability and a safe environment for my kids. It does have a few drawbacks too. Privacy is more difficult to maintain. Personality conflicts are harder to avoid. A few people do most of the work; a few more do nothing; and the rest need regular motivation to participate.
None of these issues are unique to co-ops. Workplaces, classrooms, boards, and associations of all kinds have the same problems. Since I'm in a "3 Tips" frame of mind (see National Crime Writing Month Blog), I thought I'd share my top tips for living in a co-op and generally working with people.
1. You don’t have to like a person to get along with them.
Cooperation doesn’t rely on liking a person. For socializing and lasting relationships, liking is key. To achieve common goals – like property maintenance or decision making or whose turn it is to clean up – respect is much more important.
When we give and expect respect, we are more inclined to listen fairly instead of jumping to a positive or negative conclusion based on personal preference.
Respectful behaviour includes courtesy: the courtesy of listening; the courtesy of speaking directly to the issue; the courtesy of dealing with a person directly rather than talking about them behind their backs.
We don’t need to like a person to show them respect, but it is the first best step to getting along with them.
2. Don’t gossip, communicate.
If you are curious about someone, have a problem with their behaviour, or just aren’t sure about something - talk TO them not ABOUT them.
Most people don’t bite if addressed directly about an issue in a courteous and respectful manner. Most of us are actually like talking about ourselves as long as the questions aren’t too personal. Problems can be settled or become non-issues with communication.
Direct communication doesn’t always work, but it is always more effective than gossip.
3. The carrot works better than the stick.
No one likes to feel nagged.
Everyone like to feel appreciated.
Use that knowledge!