While the weather is sunny outside, are you bringing a sunny attitude to the occasional conflict that arises with your neighbors? Consider just how neighborly you are, or might need to be:
Karen had just moved into her new condo. She was pleased with the neatly trimmed development and the attention the homeowners association paid to maintain the area. With the flowers in bloom, she too joined most of her neighbors in creating flower boxes and hanging wreaths for a more welcoming environment. However, her closest neighbor was not so conscientious. Taylor was a single man who worked two and a half jobs. He liked the home owner’s association because they mowed the lawn and trimmed the hedges. Yet, given his schedule, his plants withered and died. Sometimes newspapers piled up in front of his door. Karen was not pleased with the unkempt nature of her closest neighbor.
One day Karen was driving in and saw that Taylor’s garage door was off the hinges.
Apparently, he had backed in to it the previous evening. The damaged garage door made his unit look run down, on top of the dying plants and tattered rug in front of his door. Karen almost went bizerk. She had spent her hard earned money to move to this somewhat upscale neighborhood; but Taylor seemed to be ruining the whole experience. What should she do? How can she respond in a civil manner?
1). Karen could sit back and let the home owners association fine Taylor. The associations did frequent tours of the neighborhood and reminded neighbors of their responsibilities.
2) To be neighborly, Karen could pick up Taylor’s papers, put them neatly in a bag with a nice note and place them on his front step. “Just helping you out neighbor.”
3) If the garage door remains damaged, she could look into contractors to fix it and send Taylor a pleasant note referring some contractors to help him.
The key to civility is empathy. Think of how the other person feels. Taylor is over worked and stressed. He may not intend to let things go unattended. Certainly yelling at him or blasting him in a nasty note will not motivate him to comply. If Karen shows she cares about his situation, he may feel inspired to clean up his unit. Even with the gesture of gathering the papers and leaving a pleasant note “trying to help out” can help Taylor know he is respected, even though he let things pile up.
Also, being neighborly means everyone can live together in the same neighborhood year round. When the snow piles up or leaves get blown around, it’s nice to remember your neighbor. Summer can be hot and sticky, but it doesn’t mean we have to get hot under the collar when someone forgets to mow the lawn, or allows the mail pile up on vacation. A little empathy makes for a nice neighborhood.
Read more posts by Leah Hollis, Ed.D. here. Leah is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.
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