Nothing stirs up neighborhood drama like a conflict between neighbors. We all feel passionate about our homes and when a line is crossed, things can get ugly fast! Unresolved, seemingly simple aggravations like noise, parking, and pets can turn into all-out block battles with neighbors taking sides and naming names. With passions running so high, there are a few critical concepts to keep in mind when conflict strikes, the first is to nip it in the bud.
When conflicts fester unresolved, feelings deepen and it becomes harder to clearly communicate concerns. We become even angrier and are unable to get perspective on the situation. If you feel a neighbor has crossed the line, there is no need to let it slide, by doing so you give the message that parking in your driveway, taking your newspaper, and allowing their dog to use your lawn as a day spa are all okay. Yuck. Once is really enough. We often think of setting boundaries as punishment, but in actuality, letting others know what is acceptable is really a courtesy. We are letting them know outright what we expect and when it comes to neighbors, this is always a good thing.
Clear communication is key. Face to face is always best. We want to approach neighbors in a friendly and calm manner, but we also need to be clear about the issue. Saying things like, “I would rather you not park in my driveway,” could be interpreted as it actually being okay to park in your driveway on occasion. And this is not the goal. Something like, “I understand that maybe last night was a one time occurrence, but I do not want cars blocking my driveway,” is crystal clear.
Approach from a place of concern. We never really know what is going on in someone else’s head. If a neighbor is crossing the line, it could be that they are having a hard time. A neighbor parking in your driveway might be due to a conflict at home, a health issue, or just being overtired and burnt out. Starting the conversation with, “Hey Sarah, I noticed that you parked in my driveway last night. That seemed really unusual. I was concerned that maybe something was wrong. Is everything okay?” is a good way to deepen your relationship while communicating your expectations.
Humor helps. Everyone loves a good laugh and when putting a neighbor on the spot with an issue, humor can help keep things friendly. If we are using the above parking example, a nice touch would be, “I understand that maybe last night was a one time occurrence, but I do not want cars blocking my driveway. How else would I be able to get to the midnight Justin Bieber book signing?”
Conflicts with neighbors are challenging, but can also present an opportunity to deepen relationships. When conflict strikes, holding a position of optimism can transform a challenge into an opportunity and a neighbor into a friend.