How to Handle a Difficult Neighbor
Have you lucked into the perfect neighbor? Or would you prefer a neighbor do-over?
Does your neighbor drive you crazy?
- Play music too loud
- Have an annoying pet
- Run, dance, or stomp overhead
- Have a lot of parties
- Steal your parking spot
- Smoke in undesignated areas
Are you at your wits end? Here are some suggestions on handling a difficult neighbor.
- First, have you met your neighbor? Do you pass each other with a brief nod or a quick “hello”? Or have you spent time chatting and getting to know each other? It’s not necessary to be best friends, but having some sort of connection makes living next to each other more pleasant. And, in case the need arises, discussing unpleasant things will be easier if you’ve already established a positive relationship.
- “It” Happened Again: What should you do? Before throwing something against their wall or storming down the hall and banging on their door, do these things first.
- Remain Calm: Breathe. Don’t react in the moment. Take time to return to a state of mind where a civil conversation is possible.
- Vent: Acknowledge the situation. You have a right to how you feel and to express it. Voice it to yourself and a friend/family member. Get it all out. Taking time to vent will allow you to cool down before approaching your neighbor.
- Is It Worth It: Now that you’ve taken time to consider what happened, does their behavior warrant a chat, or is it something you can ignore? If the answer is “a talk is in order,” and you’re not a fan of conflict, write down your thoughts and practice until you feel confident.
- Neutral Ground: Have the conversation in a place that’s neutral, such as the parking lot. Both parties should feel comfortable with the amount of privacy available and being on equal ground.
- Timing: Choosing the right time to approach someone can make a huge difference in the outcome. Avoid times when they’re:
- Late to work
- Arriving home from work
- Under the influence
- With upset children
- On the phone
- Be Polite and Treat Them with Respect: Nobody enjoys feeling attacked. A polite start to the conversation can set the tone, and being respectful throughout will go a long way to a positive outcome.
- Use “I” Statements When Sharing Your Side: An “I” statement can:
- Help communicate your concerns clearly
- Reduce accusations
- Make it easier for the listener to hear and understand
- Stick to the Facts and the Topic: Share your concerns and stay on topic. Don’t list off all their terrible attributes.
- Listen: After you’ve said your piece, actively listen.
- Pay attention
- Show that you’re listening
- Provide feedback
- Defer judgment
- Respond appropriately
- They May Not Even Know: It’s entirely possible that your neighbor is unaware their behavior is impacting you. For example, maybe they don’t know how much their dog misses them when they’re at work and has a tendency to bark a lot. They’ll most likely feel bad when they find out.
- Compromise: If the issue can’t be completely resolved, it might be necessary to come to an understanding that benefits both of you.
- Thank Them: It’s not easy having an unexpected conversation regarding your behavior. Thanking your neighbor for listening to you will strengthen your relationship.
- Get in Touch with Management: If you and your neighbor are unable to come to an agreement, make sure to reach out to management.
Being patient and understanding can go a long way in conflict resolution, and, hopefully, lead to a better relationship with your neighbor.
Hopefully, you have a great neighbor, and you’re one, as well. But if a situation needs addressing, use these suggestions to smooth communication.