How To Reconcile Disagreements With Neighbors
How To Deal When Neighbors Clash
Last week, my friend called me for advice about an interesting but all-too-common situation. Her upstairs neighbor, an older man who lives by himself, had apparently gotten tired of my friend’s dog barking and had taken to stomping around the floor every time he heard the dog. This, in turn, made the dog bark even more, to which the old man responded by stomping, and this pattern had carried on for almost three days and was getting more unbearable by the hour.
It’s pretty clear that this isn’t a good way to handle a disagreement with your neighbor, but what is? Let’s look at some of our best advice for taking care of these unsavory problems.
In any relationship, the most important factor is open and clear communication. Our first tip is to make sure you talk openly, but clearly with your neighbor. First, make sure they understand the issue. Many people are not aware how thin the walls are, for example, or why the trash sorting has to be a building-wide responsibility. Clearly and kindly explain what your problem is and how you’d like the neighbor to solve it. Of course, often these situations can be quite frustrating, especially if they have gone on for a while, but it’s important to ensure the other person has had a chance to solve the problem before you try a different solution. Additionally, be understanding. If your neighbor’s toddler has been up late crying because he’s sick, it’s easy to see that there’s not a good or quick solution. Some problems you might just have to deal with (hopefully temporarily!)
Usually, simple communication can solve your issues with your neighbors, but this isn’t always the case. If the problem can’t (or won’t) be solved, it’s time to escalate the situation. Your first line of defense should be your landlord. Chances are, if something bothers you it also bothers your other neighbors. If it gets bad enough, people will want to move out, so it’s in your landlord’s best interest to help you solve these issues. Remember, the same communication advice applies to your landlord. Calmly explain the problem you’re having and why it’s affecting you. You want to be seen as a concerned community member, not a nosy troublemaker. With luck, a threat from your landlord will be more effective than your first conversation with the neighbor.
If neither of these techniques work with your difficult neighbor, sometimes you just need to solve the problem on your own. This could mean anything from wearing headphones or earplugs every morning, to moving out if the issue is really affecting your life. If possible, try to keep things in perspective. Sure, your neighbor always parks in your spot, but the new parking spot you’ve been using is close to a great restaurant! Maybe your neighbor lets his dog poo all over the yard, but just last week you witnessed the him flip out when he accidentally stepped in his own dog’s leavings. Reframing the problem with your neighbor in your mind can help you deal with it when no other solutions are available.
There you have it, our best tips for solving your arguments with those pesky neighbors. I’m sure my friend wishes her neighbor had just come talk to her instead of stomping around.