5 Ways to Instantly Improve Neighbour Relations.
Next door, on the other side of your wall or garden fence, is a potentially lifelong friend. All you have to do is reach out for a handshake. Neighbours can make your lives difficult inside your own home if they want to, so it is important to your own comfort and the care of your family that you are on good terms with them. We have some suggestions on how to introduce yourself to a new neighbourhood, but these top tips will also work seamlessly with old neighbours you are trying to build bridges with.
- Smile on Sight.
You are not going to make any friends if you look away every time neighbour turns in your direction. If you make eye contact, start with a smile. Straight away. Don’t even think about it. Smile on sight. A smile will lead to a “hello”, a “hello” will lead to a conversation, meaning you will know and understand each other in no time. When the conversation kickstarts, make sure to show interest in their lives; don’t just answer their questions about you or your family without showing the same attention to their lives, or they will instantly paint you as self-involved. When your conversation comes to an end, avoid saying “Goodbye” and instead try “Talk to you soon” – this will tell them you have enjoyed your time with them and eager to know more about them.
If you have a request or indeed a problem with a neighbour, it is always better to speak to them face-to-face. Slipping a note under their door will feel impersonal and distant, discouraging them from acting on what you have to say. Go over at a suitable time of day (i.e: not when they have only just got home from work or when they are about to go to bed), knock on their door and enter in the conversation with a little small talk. A friendly request is more likely to be granted that way, and a query is more likely to be taken into account.
- Noise Nuisance.
Noise is a difficult third party in a relationship with a neighbour. No matter how hard you try, there is always going to be a bit of noise whether it comes from a barking dog, instrumental practice, a dinner party or building work. The best you can do is to be considerate about it by keeping the noise within a time zone. For example, anything before 8am or after 9pm will be inconsiderate to other people’s down time and should be avoided. If you know when your neighbours are at work, arrange to have the handy-man come then. If they are away scheduled to go away, have your patio laid on that specific weekend.
Another useful tip is to let neighbours know in advance when there is sure to be noise. If you are having a party, go around and tell them a couple of nights beforehand and assure them that if it gets too loud (or too late), all they have to do is come and tell you so…or you could just invite them.
- Petty Problems.
Pets are a sensitive issue. Very sensitive. The barking Labrador next door is loyal and loving, and those clucking chickens in the next garden lay all the family’s eggs for breakfast. Whatever the animal, they have a name, a home and are therefore part of the family and loved dearly. That is why, if you have an issue with the neighbour’s animals, you cannot go hammering on their door all guns blazing. And do not make a mountain out of a molehill (or a pile of dog poo); only bring something to their attention if it is becoming a recurring problem, at least then they cannot deny you have grounds for a complaint. Take things calmly, explain your problem and allow them the chance to give their view on the matter. Then give them time to deal with the issue – after all, they may well have to potty train their puppy.
If a neighbour has a problem with your pet, try and understand their grievances and address the issue as soon as possible. If the problem is allowed to stew, then your pet could be under serious threat of suffering from the blunt end of a formal complaint.
- Respect the Details.
The smallest gestures can make all the difference. Simple tasks such as keeping the front lawn (which they can also see through their front window) tidy will avoid conflict. Sign for parcels if they are not in when the postman comes knocking and keep it in a safe, dry place until they return. If you leave early for work, avoid slamming the car door and revving the engine when you leave.
And add them to your Christmas card list, even if they don’t send one to you. Cards always bring a smile and affection.