Avoiding Conflict with Your Neighbors

Community association living often means a lot of people are living in close proximity; often these neighborhoods create their own identity and culture.  Sometimes interacting or confronting your neighbors can lead to conflict.  Communication is often the best way to prevent and resolve conflict before it escalates into harsher action and reaction.  You don’t have to be Facebook friends or spend time together to achieve a peaceful coexistence, but you should try to be a good neighbor and follow these simple tips:

  1. Say Hello.  At the mailbox, while walking the dog or when you see a moving van arrive, introduce yourself.  Learn your neighbor’s names and regularly offer a friendly greeting.  A smile goes a long way at communicating harmony.
  2. Provide a heads up.  If you’re planning a construction project, altering your landscaping or hosting a big party, notify your neighbors beforehand.  Avoid blindsiding them.
  3. Do unto others.  Treat neighbors as you would like to be treated.  Be considerate about noise, vehicles, pets, garbage cans, etc.  Often times, take the higher road and put your things away and practice common sense.
  4. Know your differences.  Make an effort to understand the other person.  Differences in age, ethnic background and years in the neighborhood can lead to different expectations or misunderstandings.  Don’t expect anyone to read your mind or live exactly as you do.  We are all different, look for their unique traits and celebrate them.
  5. Consider the view.  Keep your property looking good.  This practice directly affects property values and the overall culture of your association.  Tend to your home and help create a neighborhood.
  6. Appreciate them.  If the neighbors do something you like, let them know.  They’ll be pleased you noticed, and it’ll be easier to talk later if they do something you don’t like.
  7. Stay Positive.  Most people don’t purposely try to create problems; however, the outside world tends to influence our emotions or to look too quickly at the negative points of view.  If a neighbor does something that irritates you, don’t assume it was deliberate.
  8. Talk honestly.  Tolerance is important, but don’t let a real irritation go because it seems unimportant or hard to discuss.  Let your neighbors know what annoys you. 
  9. Be respectful.  Talk directly to your neighbors if there is a problem.  Gossiping with others can damage relationships, and create trouble.  Don’t let gossip fester either, confront the concern and allow tranquilly to return to your home.
  10. Remain calm.  If a neighbor mentions a problem they have with you, thank them for the input.  You don’t have to agree or justify your behavior.  However, take a moment and wait for strong emotions to subside before responding and react objectively.  There may be a time to take a break to think about what you and your neighbor have discussed, and then arrange to finish the conversation at another time. 
  11. Listen carefully.  When discussing a problem, try to understand your neighbor’s point of view and feelings. 

As a professional association manager, MGM has had its share of confrontations.  We have chaired, negotiated and refereed numerous concerns from the Board’s perspective to confrontations between neighbors.  In almost all cases, communication is the primary skill required to resolve confrontations.  For more information, contact our office at (208) 846-9189 or visit www.gomgm.com.