In an ideal world, we would all get along with everyone including our friends, family and neighbors. World peace would not be a myth. Unfortunately in the real world conflict is unavoidable especially when it comes to your relationship with your neighbors. Sometimes it could be your fault and at times it could be theirs. The thing is conflicts and spats with neighbors can easily spiral out of control if not handled properly. Fights with neighbors can turn into everlasting feuds.
There are many reasons why you can fight with your neighbors depending on where you live e.g. in a flat or suburb. Some reasons include:
Fights involving pets for example a pet that likes to defecate on someone else’s property or one that harasses your own pet.
Noise such as from a barking pet, parties and other functions
Property boundaries especially in the early days or when there are no durawalls or fences.
Overgrown trees and hedges that encroach on a neighboring property, put a strain on dividing walls and so on
Road access where properties share an entrance
Water pressure where one property can only access water if the other is not
This list is by no means exhaustive but highlights some of the most common disputes one might have with their neighbor.
How to handle conflict with your neighbor
Today we will look at some of the things you might do to avoid escalation and to allow for disputes to be handled amicably. Some of the techniques you might try include:
Try talking first-In most instances problems can be resolved by just talking first. Be polite, and assertive without being aggressive. Most times your neighbor might not even be aware of the problem and how it is affecting you. Do not go there looking for a quarrel or shout at them as it will just make them defensive and angry too. Make sure you explain clearly how the problem is affecting you.
Proffer solutions-It is always a good idea to come up with possible solutions to the problem before you even see your neighbor. For example, you can have a timetable for when one gets to use water or a shared entrance. You can both have a set of keys for a shared entrance. You might offer to pay for a tree cutter to lop off some of the offending branches in the case of a tree.
Talk face to face as opposed to over the phone-in today’s world it is tempting to avoid contact with your neighbor but generally people tend to be less hostile when you talk to them in person as opposed to shooting off a snarky message on WhatsApp.
Write notes and try to use written communication as often as possible-This might seem to contradict what we said above but think of it as a compliment rather than a replacement. Always make sure to keep detailed records even when it seems like there is no need. This might help if the dispute spill into the legal system
Do not be the Grinch neighbor- Inasmuch it is tempting to think of your neighbor as the problem it is important that you self-reflect. Do not be always grumpy. Stick to one issue to not be the person who is always complaining about anything and everything to your neighbor, it makes it hard to take you seriously when the time eventually comes when you have a legitimate problem with your neighbor. It also helps to be on friendly terms with your neighbor. Invite them to dinner sometime even when there is no conflict between you.
Know your rights and obligations-You need to know what your rights are before you go on a rampage. You need to know whether you are in the right or wrong. Research the legal issues affecting your dispute and see how you can use that as leverage.
Enlist other neighbors- Usually you have more than one neighbor. In cases like this, it is important to always enlist their help. Try not to act as if you are ganging up on your neighbor but act as a community. The neighbors can be impartial arbitrators between the two of you.
Be a good neighbor - this is related to not being the Grinch neighbor part
Engage the authorities-it is always preferable to avoid legal action which is expensive and acrimonious. There are authorities you may call first such as councilors, headmen, chiefs, pastors and so on before you engage the police and courts. You should only use courts and the police as a last resort.