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Neighbors: How to Raise a Concern Politely Hero Label

Neighbors: How to Raise a Concern Politely

aerial shot of suburban homes and trees

Maintaining a good relationship with your neighbors also requires clear honest communication. If you have a legitimate concern or complaint, let your neighbor know. Your goal is to maintain your good relationship, so don't complain when you're angry. Wait until you can address the issue with your neighbor calmly. Be prepared to listen and be open to compromise.

Have a polite word with your neighbor.

Take a calm, tactful, non-confrontational approach: "Karen, I've noticed that after you go to work, the kids are cutting through our yard to get to school." "Sam, for the last couple of weeks your recycling has blown around the neighborhood. Bungee cords solved that problem for me." Tone is everything here!

Spend less time explaining why something is a problem for you and more time asking for what you want.

Letting someone know once, and briefly, how their actions affect you is fair. But after that your time and energy will be better spent on solving the problem than continuing to explain it's impact on you. "Jim, it's hard for me to sleep when the music is loud after 10:00 PM. Would you turn be willing to turn it down it then?"

Write a courteous note if you can't catch your neighbor in person.

Avoid any language that could be construed as insulting or threatening. Neighborhood petitions may seem like a good idea but are very intimidating, especially if your neighborhood isn't aware of the problem. 

Ask for help from building owners or managers or homeowners' associations.

If your one-on-one conversation didn't do the trick, a letter from a higher authority will remind a negligent owner of the rules he or she is expected to follow. This can be a reasonable approach if you don't know the owner or if she has a history of disregarding individual complaints.

As a last resort, take the problem to public officials.

For serious violations, like a yard full of trash, or a persistent problem, such as an incessantly barking dog, it may help if several neighbors band together to talk with local authorities. An official letter of warning may be required. Realize that while this approach may be necessary and may solve an immediate problem, it can cause resentment and do little to improve overall neighbor relations.

Follow the golden rule.

Be the neighbor you'd like to have. Step outside to see if you can hear your music or TV when it's at its loudest. Don't mow the lawn at the crack of dawn. And introduce yourself to your neighbors before there's a problem.