On television, neighbors are supporting characters that happily mow their lawns and wave at every car that drives by. Unfortunately, in real life, neighbors are real people with real problems of their own. Your neighbors may be in the apartment next to you or across the street in a suburban lot, but regardless they may be impolite. Learning to deal with rude neighbors is an important part of living in a community.
1. Start Early
Head off problems by getting to know your neighbors early. Meet new neighbors at the moving van with a plateful of cookies or a cool beverage. As you move into a new neighborhood, invite those around you to a social gathering. This sets up a mutual sense of respect between you and your neighbors. If you get to know your neighbors before there is a problem, you create a rapport that serves as an advantage later.
2. Discuss Problems
When you have a problem, meet with your neighbor to discuss the issue. However, it is important to talk about the problem, not accuse the neighbor. For example, if your neighbor’s dog consistently roams the street and gets into your trash, don’t start with, “Keep your dog at home; he gets into my trash.” A blaming approach often leads to a rude response. Instead, try saying something like, “Fluffy got into my trash yesterday. What do you think we can do to prevent this from happening again?”
3. Meet on Common Ground
Try talking with your neighbor in a public area, whether it is the building lobby, the sidewalk, or a local coffee shop. This is far less threatening than meeting at either your home or the neighbor’s. When you talk, try listening as much as you speak. Sometimes people respond rudely when they are at their wit’s end. Fluffy may be an escape artist and the neighbor is just as stumped as you are about keeping him corralled. Your neighbor’s lawn may be overgrown because she is trying to get through some kind of family crisis. Together, you may be able to find a solution that satisfies you both.
4. Seek Mediation
If you cannot work with the neighbor who is consistently rude and interfering with your life, then it may be time to seek mediations. Check with your homeowners’ organization for mediation procedures. If you don’t have recourse through your neighborhood, then check with your city or town. Many civic governments offer neighbor mediation. If all of these options fail and your neighbor isn’t breaking the law, the last resort is to simply ignore the offensive neighbor.
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