Cultural Keys to Make your Coliving Experience A Success
There are a few things we’ve learned over the past 8 years running coliving homes that we’d love to share with you as you dive into this new experience. These are simple principles and approaches that will help you navigate the rewarding-yet-messy process of cohabitating with a group of lovely, imperfect humans.
A Spirit of Generosity & RECIPROCITY
Generosity is the golden rule of coliving. In a community home, reciprocity is a very real phenomenon that enables group living to work and avoids "tragedy of the commons" type problems. You may give on one day, and you most certainly will be the recipient on another. This approach of "paying it forward" embodies the spirit of generosity & reciprocity - whether it's leaving a space better than you found it, cleaning up after someone else, or offering a fellow member your time and talents. At the relational level, a powerful saying we have seen work wonders is to always "assume good intent." This is a generous move. Let's say someone does or says something that upsets you - instead of reacting, extend to them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps you misinterpreted their meaning, perhaps they come from a different cultural background, perhaps they had a bad day and it wasn't personal. Be generous in your interpretation and in your response, and you will see how assuming good intent can transform a conversation in an instant.
Adopting a Growth Mindset
Living in a community is not all rainbows and butterflies. Each of us comes as the beautifully, imperfect humans that we are...baggage and all. As such, conflict and disagreement are not just likely but inevitable. That being said, with the right approach coliving can be an amazing container for your personal growth and development. This is in fact one of the most important benefits of living in community! Adopting a growth mindset allows you to approach conflict as a personal growth opportunity. This means that when disagreements arise, you are willing to reflect on and own your part in the situation, you are open to receiving feedback, you are willing to expand your sense of empathy, and you acknowledge that you make mistakes and learning from them.
Everything is a Prototype
One of the more challenging aspects of coliving is the process of making decisions together as a group. What kind of food will we buy jointly? How should we go about splitting up chores and roles in the house? What kind of events are we ok with in common spaces? A really effective approach we have found to break a stalemate or avoid decision-fatigue in an important group decision is to "treat everything is a prototype." When things are understood to be a prototype and not the “final decision for all of time,” it can take some of the weight off the decision and keep things flowing . Something doesn't need to be 100% fool-proof before getting it rolling - set a time frame to try it out, then check back in as a community and adjust as you learn. The phrase "I can live with that“ pairs nicely with this mentality - it's not about everyone always getting exactly what they want, but rather a spirit of compromise that will balance the needs of the whole.
Community is Built Around the Dinner Table
Breaking bread together is an ancient and time-honored way that we humans build community. Many of our established communities say that a shared food program with regular community meals is the main element that makes their house to feel like a "home.” It is this ritual of gathering around food that creates opportunity for regular conversation and deeper relationships. Many communities colloquially refer to these as "family dinners" and have them 2-3 times each week.