Good Fences: 10 Tips On Dealing With Difficult Neighbors

How to Handle Difficult Neighbors

When searching to buy your home, you probably have a checklist of needs and wants for your new house and location. But do you factor in the potential neighbors? Finding dream neighbors is always a gamble, as you never know who will share your fence. If you find that you’re experiencing conflict or difficulty with one of your neighbors, follow these 10 tips for handling the trouble.

1. Be Proactive

If you’re experiencing difficulties with a neighbor, whether the offender is a noise maker or a careless pet owner, try to prevent the situation from escalating. Begin by addressing the issue promptly: be proactive. By addressing the issue early on, you won’t allow resentment to build, which could make matters worse.

2. Start a Dialog

Call your difficult neighbor, and ask if there is a good time to talk about the situation. Be sure to listen. While you may feel entitled to make accusations, instead, engage your neighbor in an open dialogue and share what you’ve been experiencing. Ask questions, open ones, that could lead to solutions to the problem.

3. Write a Letter

If starting a dialog fails to be productive, consider writing a personal letter. By giving someone the space to process the issue on their own time, you may be able to achieve a better resolution.

4. Seek Local Aid

If necessary, contact your block or homeowners association for help resolving your issues with your neighbor. Be sure to look up local noise and disturbance laws, and cite an ordinance that applies to your situation when you contact the pertinent association.

5. Practice Empathy

When approaching a neighbor with a complaint, practice empathy and consider how you would like to be approached if you were the one creating the nuisance. Problem solve by asking what you too can do to be a great neighbor, and don’t approach your neighbor while the problem is occurring, or at an inconvenient time of day. Empathy can be everything in finding a positive solution to your problem.


6. Start Off on a Good Foot

While the above suggestions are helpful to those who are currently encountering difficult neighbors, what if you’re new to the area or you have yet to encounter neighborly quarrels? Start by introducing yourself, and then here are a few ideas to proactively mitigate disputes with troublesome neighbors.

7. Host an Event

Start things off right with your neighbors. Get to know them — what are their names? Do they have families? Show you are interested in caring for the people in your immediate area. An easy way to break the ice? Organize a neighborhood block party, or agree to host a potluck.

8. Show Old Fashioned Etiquette

Drop by and bring your neighbor an unexpected gift. This doesn’t have to be a large gesture — delivering baked goods with a simple note is a great way to reach out to your neighbors. By showing that you care about your neighbors, you’re developing positive associations that will go a long way in problem solving any disputes.

9. Ask Questions

Another great way to cultivate a positive relationship with your neighbors is to ask questions. This may seem simple, and it is, but it’s often overlooked. If you don’t want to be too personal, ask for a restaurant recommendation or for directions to a nearby area. Questions show you value their thought, an important foundation for uncomfortable discussions.

10. Build a Rapport

According to a psychological phenomenon, the Benjamin Franklin effect, if you do perform a favor for someone, as a result, you will tend to like that person. The reason is as follows: people tend to justify kind actions by assuming a favor was performed because the person who received the favor is liked and deserving of the favor.

While kind gestures towards your neighbors will likely be well appreciated, follow this counter-intuitive logic by also creating opportunities for your neighbors to do something kind for you. A couple ideas? Ask a neighbor to check your mail while you’re on vacation, or to park in your driveway while you’re away to keep your home safe. By establishing a positive rapport between you and your neighbors, you’ll set a foundation for open dialog if issues do arise.

Be a Good Neighbor

The bottom line? Conflict may arise between you and your neighbor, and if it does, use these tips to resolve issues in a healthy, proactive way. But most importantly, exercise kindness and be a good neighbor — this will go a long way in solving any future troubles.


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