She knew she hated dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. It didn’t seem so important when she interviewed to live with others in a large house. She fell in love with the room, the house and the location. She noticed the dirty dishes but internally she shrugged and thought, “I can live with it.”
So she moved in. As she got comfortable and became a member of the community she began to feel that her need not to have dirty dishes in the sink was a reasonable request and that the others should acknowledge it. When that didn’t happen, it became a source of friction and stress. After just six months she moved out.
This is a story I often tell to demonstrate the importance of “must-haves” and “can’t-live-withs.” But sometimes it is hard to realize what your must-haves and can’t-live-withs are. Enter the compatibility assessment.
Tool: The Compatibility Assessment
The compatibility assessment has thirteen multiple-choice questions and three yes/no items for a total of sixteen. Each of the multiple-choice questions deals with an aspect of what makes for compatibility for people in sharing a home. It’s based on my experience over twenty-one years of living in shared housing.
The assessment helps in the selection process. Used in an interview where two (or more) people share their answers and discuss them, it is a valuable tool, a compass for the interview. It structures the interview. Most importantly, it allows you to ask, “What did you say to number 1?” rather than the uncomfortable, “How clean are you?” Using the assessment you can explore the nitty-gritty of living together by comparing your results. You will figure out pretty quickly if you are compatible enough to be comfortable living together.
“I was really surprised at how easy and fun it was to use the questionnaire.”
The compatibility assessment does not have some special magic for matching you up with someone whose answers would match yours. Nor does it prescribe the type of person you could live with. It can’t do that because everyone is unique and every shared-housing arrangement is what the people living it decide it should be. It could be that totally opposite answers to an item turn out to be just fine — in your particular situation. It is up to you to figure this out.
What You Need to Talk About When Interviewing a Potential Home-mate is a in-depth PDF with guidance about how to conduct a selection interview. You will learn how the interview conversation is the essential part of the process and how to discern if the person you are talking to might be a good home-mate for you.
Are you a visual person? Sometimes it helps to see an entire process as a graphic. The map displays the selection process. It was created to show where in the process a person would use the compatibility assessment. There are quite a few steps before it makes sense to have the compatibility conversation. It also makes it clear that there are five opportunities to stop the process. Sometimes I think people are afraid to start the process because they don’t feel confident that they can stop it.
These three tools: the assessment, the PDF and the map together should give you confidence when you look for and talk to people about sharing housing. You can find them for purchase here. They will support you as explore who would be a good home-mate for you.
If you do use these tools please come back and tell us about it.