Good Neighbors Create Good Neighbors: Diffusing An Argument Before it Begins

It’s Saturday morning in sunny Las Vegas and your long-anticipated plans to sleep past 8 a.m. are thwarted by the blaring beat of an 80’s rock band that you didn’t even like when their hit song topped the charts in your much younger, more fun-loving days. The sounds of the percussions jolt you out of your cozy dreams born from the beauty of REM sleep. You stumble out of bed, wipe the sleep out of your eyes, and peep through the blinds to look for the origins of the reverberating noise that has robbed you of your good morning. You think to yourself, is it Veterans Day and I missed the announcement that the parade route would come stomping through my community’s courtyard? However, dismayed, you determine that your ears are being violated by your new neighbor who must obviously be a morning person.

Your next steps are crucial no matter where you live, be it Reno, Tahoe, Elko or Pahrump, these essential keys will work.  You have the potential to create a nemesis who could find a million ways to tap dance on your last good nerve for the foreseeable future or you could just possibly make a great new friend who would bake you cookies or give you a ride to the store when you need it.

You know that Golden Rule about doing unto others? Well that idea extends to neighbors whether its in a mobile home park, apartment complex, senior community or subdivision. The fact is good neighbors create good neighbors. In my role as Affordable Housing Advocate for the state’s Housing Division, I often receive complaints from residents who are not enjoying the sanctity of their home because of a neighbor who isn’t all that neighborly. With the advent of social media, people now tend to air their grievances in front of a population of about a 1,000 friends and family, reveling in the sympathy they receive from those who declare they wouldn’t put up with that. They are often ill-advised about how they should handle the trespasses against them. Call the cops, some post with three exclamation points. Turn your music up louder, another chimes in. Report them to management anonymously, they say.

I’m here to offer you a different path forward that might just change your entire view on life. Try a little honey first. If you want to create a good neighbor, first try being a good neighbor. How would you like someone to handle a difficult request that they have for you? If they called the cops on your or reported you without giving you the opportunity to correct the problem, you’d be a little bitter and probably figure out other ways to make their life less than pleasant. Here’s how the conversation to go.

You: Gently knock on his or her door. Hi, I’m <<state your name>>. I noticed that you moved in recently and I hadn’t gotten a chance to introduce myself and welcome you to the neighborhood.

Them: Nice to meet you. Thanks for coming over. I haven’t met many of the neighbors yet.

You: Where did you move from?

Them: I just moved from Texas.

You: Oh my aunt lives in Texas. I know you guys do it big down there, which is probably why you were up early this morning enjoying your music.

Them: Oh, I didn’t realize you could hear my music.

You: I figured you didn’t realize that I could hear you. Just some advice, the walls are pretty thin here, so be careful about things you may want to keep private. I do like to sleep in on Saturdays, so I was a little startled by your music. I just thought it would be better if I let you know neighbor to neighbor.

Them: I appreciate that. Most people would have called the cops or reported me.

You: I try to be a good neighbor. I’d want someone to let me know if there’s a problem. Hey, let me know if I can make some recommendations about getting around the new neighborhood for you. Enjoy your day. I’m usually up by noon, so feel free to rock on after that.

And voila! You just diffused an argument before it even began. This approach may not work in every situation, but it should at least be your first plan of action. If it doesn’t work, you can at minimum feel justified in taking further action. Effective communication can go a long way in helping to create the good neighbor that you want to live next to. After all, if they see that you are a good neighbor, they will possibly pay it forward and treat the next person with the same grace and courtesy.