Gone are the days when everyone used to know their neighbours, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing?
You can hand pick your friends – and you can be frank with your family – but it’s not always so easy with a problem neighbour.
But it’s not all bad. With a little bit of communication and healthy dose of understanding, the neighbour of your nightmares could become the neighbour of your dreams, or at the very least a pleasant acquaintance.
Here are some of the most common neighbour types, and some tips on how to deal with them.
They’re not necessarily shouting in anger, they’re just shouting. Enter the chaotic family that always has something they’re running late for – swimming lessons, soccer practice or little Jamie’s 6th birthday party. This family simply doesn’t have the time to walk into a different room to find the person they need to talk to. Their heated exchanges take place from one end of the house to the other.
How To Deal:
It’s important to withhold judgment until you know the person. How do you get to know someone? Communication. The shouting family have nothing to hide – there’s no filter behind those doors. By that logic they could be quite honest and open people. If you make the effort to introduce yourself early on, they’re not the types to get overly offended if you need to tell them to tone it down.
“The importance of connecting very early on in the piece can’t be stressed enough”
“It means there’s a foundation of a relationship to maintain if and when a problem arises.
“If you wait till the problem arises it makes for an awkward interaction.”
This neighbour likes to get around in leggings and brightly coloured trainers and can often be seen sporting a rosy glow as though they just stepped off the treadmill. They are addicted to the latin grooves of their twice-weekly zumba class and use every spare moment to practice. No, there’s not a small herd of elephants upstairs having a fiesta – it’s just the ever-enthusiastic Zumba Dancer.
How To Deal:
Take some time to diffuse before you attempt to connect, Don’t assume that they’re doing this to hurt you, they may have no idea. It’s best to use “I” statements, rather than accusatory “you” statements. For example, I can’t get my baby to sleep so I need you to practice Zumba earlier. And hey, if you don’t have a baby to rock to sleep, why not knock on their door and see what all the fuss is about?
This lot are friendly enough, they just don’t seem to own a lawn mower. There’s a lot riding on streetscape, especially when it comes time to sell up, and these guys are bringing down the class average.
How To Deal:
Again, it comes back to communication. We need to be proactive in starting relationships with our neighbours, not wait for them to make the first move. Whether we move in after them or they do, we tend to think the onus is on the other party to introduce themselves. If you get over that kind of attitude, you’re more likely to cultivate the sort of relationship that encourages communication. The Home Devaluer could have any number of things going on in their life, that as a stranger you could have no idea about. But as a neighbour, you could learn to understand. Instead of seeing the uncut lawn and personlising it, think about what else might be going on. They could be experiencing grief, financial difficulty or loss of job.
There’s a Ned Flanders in every street and they always seem to pop up when you least want them to. No matter how many shopping bags you appear to be struggling with, or how many backward steps you seem to be taking into your apartment, they don’t seem to get the hint. They just love a chat.
How To Deal:
Remember this – the Over the Fence Engager means well. What they’re doing is actually the neighbourly thing. So do the neighbourly thing and talk back, if only for a minute. When you get an opening, politely excuse yourself. For minimum cost to your time, you’ve maintained the peace.
They’re keeping you up out night with their loud voices, boisterous parties and late night antics. You know more than you ever wanted to know about their fraught love lives and disputes, and thier “music” is drowning out your “ocean sounds” sleep playlist.
How To Deal:
Remember being young? Nope? Try harder. If you really concentrate you might be able to relate with what’s going on next door. But that doesn’t mean you can let things get out of hand. If they have one or two parties a year and tell you about them in advance, cut them some slack. If it’s every second weekend, it’s time to take action. But it’s usually a good idea to wait until morning before taking to the pen and pad with your concerns. For loud parties, putting it in writing the next morning is a good way to rationalise your grievances. In the heat of the moment, you’re fragile, you’re fractious, give yourself some headspace to diffuse.
If all else fails, you can always start looking for a new place.