Watch our short video above for some useful ideas on how to improve difficult relationships with neighbours.
Want to know more? Here are five key approaches we have learned in our 28 years experience of supporting people our community.
1. The more understanding the better:
- It can make a big difference to understand the other person’s situation and what their experience is – and for them to understand yours. This may be the last thing you feel like doing, but here are three reasons to give it a try:
- People are not always aware of the impact of their behaviour and especially why it might be making someone so angry or upset.
- It may feel like the other person is doing things on purpose to annoy or upset you. Nine times out of ten this is not the case! When we don’t know why something is happening it can feel a lot more threatening.
- The other person might have things going on in their life that would make what they are doing more understandable to you. Although it may seem hard, if you show can understanding towards them, they are much more likely to show understanding towards you.
2. Take a moment:
- We usually complain when something difficult has just happened and we have reached the end of what we can cope with. We are likely to be upset or angry – or both.
- When emotions are running high our communication skills aren’t at their best. It can hard for someone to listen to us and take in what we are saying – and much harder for us to listen.
- Unless there is immediate threat to someone’s safety it is always worth taking time to calm down and reflect before contacting the other person.
3. Explain your concerns:
- Communicate when you are as calm as you can be
- Avoid insults, personal remarks and exaggeration (try and avoid words like always, never, every time, all the time)
- Be clear about what you’re hearing, seeing, etc (e.g. When the TV goes on loudly at 6 am)
- Explain why you are finding it difficult (e.g. I get woken up before I have had enough sleep because I don’t get back from work until midnight)
- Make a request of a change that would help (e.g. Please keep things quiet until after 9 am)
4. Offer to listen to the other person’s point of view:
- This is not easy to do when you are annoyed with them, but it can make a huge difference if you can do it.
- Research shows that people are much more willing to compromise when they feel their point of view has been heard and understood.
- Listening to someone doesn’t mean you agree with them. (e.g. I understand that you wake up early and like to have the TV on to keep you company. The noise is a real problem for me though.)
5. See if it’s possible to agree a plan – or some changes – that would work for you both:
- Remember you don’t have to become friends – just people who can live peacefully next to each other
- You will probably both need to make compromises
- It helps a lot if you can agree how you will communicate in the future
- If it doesn’t feel safe or respectful, find a polite way to talk, end the conversation.
If you want to know more about our mediation services for neighbours, please visit our Community Mediation page.