We think of our homes as shelters from everyday conflict. This makes it that much more difficult when conflict with neighbors creeps into our homes, and that much more important to find ways to get along with neighbors. Try the following suggestions:
- Establish good rapport before any conflict arises.
- Be understanding. If a neighbor has a difficult time with various tasks, you might offer assistance or ideas for outside resources. For example, you might know of a neighborhood teenager who can be hired for lawn mowing, snow shoveling, or dog sitting.
- Don't be quick to judge. Your early morning lawn mowing may be as irritating to them as their late-night door slamming.
- Don't assume. Your neighbor might not be aware of the fact that their dog is barking when they're gone, or that their son is riding his bike through your yard. Unless you have a concern for your immediate safety, take your concerns directly to them first, without involving third parties.
- Speak calmly and without accusation, allowing them a chance to respond in a similar fashion. Share your concerns—not your position. ("We're concerned about mosquitoes breeding in the tires in your backyard." vs. "Get those tires out of your yard!")
- Clarify key phrases and preferred communication methods. For example, does taking care of something "soon" mean this week or this year? Or, if there's a problem with a child's activity, should the neighbor talk to the child or the parent? By phone, in person, or in writing?
- Be open when a neighbor approaches you. Instead of reacting impulsively and defensively, tell your neighbor you'll "give it some thought and get back to them."
- Try mediation. If approaching your neighbors directly isn't a good option or isn't working, consider contacting North Hennepin Mediation Program (NHMP). NHMP's trained mediator have been helping neighbors work things out for over 20 year, with excellent results. Mediation is a voluntary process, takes an hour or two, and helps neighbors resolve current issues while establishing the rapport that will help with future issues. Mediation is convenient and confidential. The staff at the mediation program will help you determine if mediation is an appropriate route for you, and if so, they will contact your neighbor(s) on your behalf. For information on neighborhood mediation, contact Community Mediation & Restorative Services, Inc. at 763-561-0003.