I watched a programme recently called The Week the Landlords Moved In. Tenants of two houses move out for a week and their landlords move in, to experience what it would be like to live in the properties they’re renting out.
Peter and Marc are a father and son team who own a self-made property business worth £7m. They’ve obviously worked hard to get where they are but perhaps with 40 properties, may have lost the personal touch. They moved into Linda’s 2-bed flat and had no idea about the extensive mould problem. Initially when she’d alerted them to it, they had installed a unit but the cost of running this was exorbitant and barely surviving on her income together with housing benefit, Linda had resorted to not putting her heating on to offset the cost. No heating exacerbated the mould and damp problem. It was a vicious circle.
You could see Peter and Marc were shocked to see the extent of the problem. When they looked at Linda’s energy bills, they realised the impact of the badly managed flat. What Peter couldn’t understand was why Linda hadn’t complained and he was quite annoyed and frustrated. Looking at it from Linda’s perspective, her home is on the London/Essex border and therefore the commuter belt – a desirable area. Her rent had already increased and if she alerted her landlords to the mould problem, maybe they’d choose to refurbish the flat, raise the rent and thus she’d have to move out.
Marc seemed more sympathetic than his father and upon meeting Linda realised she was barely managing on her salary and benefits. Thankfully, empathy won out and the father and son duo refurbished the flat and gave Linda a 12month contract. In the end, they’d both looked at the situation from Linda’s point of view.
The second landlord featured was Paul. His property empire was huge and he owned a number of HMOs in Milton Keynes. An HMO is a House in Multiple Occupation and unlike traditional shared houses, tenants don’t have a say who moves in. Hayley rents a room in one of Paul’s HMOs and felt she lived only in her room, rarely saw anyone else in the house and ultimately felt unsafe and isolated.
Upon Paul’s arrival, he was impressed that Hayley’s room was pleasantly bright and breezy and he thought the shared aspects of the house were fine. However, after a week, he realised why Hayley had made such an effort with her room because there was no desirable shared living space, a rat problem and security issues. After meeting with Hayley, he endeavoured to truly understand things from her point of view and came to realise this was a house, not a home for the occupants. He went on to make some welcome changes which were inexpensive but which made a real difference to their everyday living space.
As landlords, Peter, Marc and Paul had no idea what it was like to live in the properties they profit from. They initially had the attitude of ‘Let it and forget it’ but their experience of living in the spaces, helped them to comprehend things from their tenants’ perspectives.
It’s all about trying to understand an individual’s Mental Map which is our own unique perceptions, paradigms and mental models we use to judge the world. We all operate by our own Mental Map and use them to navigate the world according to us. It’s not how it is, it’s how we think it is. By trying to comprehend another person with this in mind, we can begin to understand their responses to situations in life and their reasons behind decisions and actions.
Perhaps you can think of someone in your life who you have a particularly challenging relationship with. Is it all their doing? Think of the part you play in the dynamic. Maybe you truly have done all you can to try to have a harmonious relationship and if that’s the case, sometimes for our own self-preservation, we need to walk away. Often though, it is possible to salvage the connection, it’s just a matter of trying to understand their Mental Map. After all, you know this stuff, they may not. Therefore, use that knowledge for the better.
“Empathy (noun): The ability to step into the shoes of another person, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives and to use that understanding to guide our actions” The Mind Journal
By Kirsty Perrin
About the Author: Having been immersed in the Winning Edge principles from an early age, Kirsty’s philosophy is to be the best you can be and to enjoy what you do in life.
Kirsty knows that personal development is a continuous journey and therefore has a genuine desire and enthusiasm to help people realise their full potential, to be a success in their life-whatever that may mean to them.
Kirsty’s thought-provoking blogs, prompt readers to think consciously about how their thinking has a huge impact on their life, it informs their emotions and therefore their behaviour. Living life consciously is the cornerstone to the themes of Kirsty’s blogs. You can contact Kirsty directly here