How to Make Nice with Your Neighbors

You may like your neighbors, find them extremely annoying, or never even have met. Whatever your scenario, the most important thing is to make nice and find a way to keep the peace.

Who Are They?

What can either be a lottery win or a bad luck of the draw, who you get as a neighbor is a crapshoot. Unfortunately, we can’t pick who’s going to live next door, upstairs, across the street, or down the block.

We’ve seen (or avoided) movies about frat boys moving in next door. News reports abound regarding the “nicest” neighbor who winds up being a cannibal serial killer. If we haven’t met them, we make up a story about who they are based on how they look and their comings-and-goings. Neighbors, regardless, are people who have to live next to you, too.

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Mr. Rogers was a real positive guy. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But realistically, we can’t chit-chat with all of our neighbors everyday (especially with ones we really don’t want to.) With families where both parents work, shuffling kids around, it’s tough to fit in time for an acquaintance (who may even be more of a stranger or a burden.)

A quick wave is a congenial step in the neighborly direction. And, honestly, it’s plenty.

It’s horrible to think this way, but including a veritable stranger into details of your personal life may not be so safe nowadays. The brief smile-and-move-on method shouldn’t be perceived as unfriendly. It’s just the way it goes sometimes.

There’s No Business Like Home Business…

It’s speculated that the #1 complaint about neighbors is noise. Hearing footsteps, loud music, or “yelling” can be challenging, especially when you’re ready to go to sleep. A yappy or barking dog for a continuous period of time can also rattle the nerves.

How you handle the gripe will make all the difference in your relationship with your neighbor. Communication, as in any relationship, is essential. Share and listen:

1) Be gentle. You don’t want to put anyone of the defensive. You don’t know their volatility level. Additionally, the poor neighbor may have no idea that what they’re doing is bothering anyone.

2) Explain your perspective of the situation in person. Email or notes can be misconstrued in tone and intention. (I once mentioned to a neighbor, in a note, that her dog barked for too many hours on end. She replied, “I’d bet you’d be happy if I had him euthanized!”)  She clearly overreacted, but without hearing my voice and tone, and seeing my empathy for her pet, she just became defensive and responded over-the-top (and with paranoia.)

3) Think before you react. You may not like the way a neighbor has let his front yard look like Halloween every day of the year. But maybe that neighbor can’t afford a gardener. Maybe she’s raising three kids and works twice as many hours as she sleeps. Have empathy before you assume or pitch a fit.

4) Maybe you’re the problem. If no one has communicated their gripe, there’s a strong chance you have no idea that neighbors might be annoyed with you. If we know how to please our neighbors, we’ll do what it takes—if we can. No one wants to be the “bad neighbor.”

Getting along with those who live nearby can make the difference between a happy home and a dreadful drudge. Keeping the peace is always the way to go…

To check out other tips on how to keep positivity a priority in your life, click here.


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