What Your Neighbor Won't Tell You
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Won't You Be… ?1 of 10
By Woman's Day
Good neighbors are great—who doesn't want an acquaintance who can collect the mail while you're on vacation, or a trustworthy person to keep an extra set of keys on hand? But bad neighbors? They can be the worst! We asked people across the country what bothers them the most about the residents who live nearby. Read on to find out if you're guilty of some less-than-neighborly deeds.
Keep It Down2 of 10
This is probably the No. 1 neighborly complaint regardless of where you live. "Use your judgment. If it's one party on a special occasion, like a 4th of July barbecue, then let it go," says Diane Gottsman, etiquette expert and owner of The Protocol School of Texas. "But if you're constantly being kept up at night, then it's a problem."
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Be Considerate3 of 10
Though city living can be cramped, taking over shared space not only creates noise that might infiltrate others' apartments, but it also may make your neighbors feel uncomfortable—as if they're stepping into "your" territory. "The hallway is meant to be used as a thoroughfare where apartment neighbors can easily and safely pass and maneuver their groceries, packages and strollers," says Gottsman. "It should not be used to store boxes or act as a makeshift playground for small children, unless previously agreed upon by all of the neighbors."
Welcome Well4 of 10
When you're new to the neighborhood, it's comforting to meet the people who live next door. What doesn't feel so welcoming is when they hand over a list of what's wrong with your new (to you) home, be it an unsightly fence, peeling paint or a rusty awning. "The first time we met our neighbor, she told us everything that was wrong with our backyard," says Anna, who lives in New York City. "It took away from our excitement about buying our first home, and instead put pressure on us to start renovations ASAP."
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Borrow With Care5 of 10
"I'm more than happy to lend my neighbor a hammer, but it seems like every other day she comes over to borrow something—and I never ask her for anything!" says Lindsay, who lives in Chicago. "You need to learn how to say 'no,'" says Gottsman. "The next time she swings by for something, try, Gosh, I'm almost out myself and I'll be short an egg for my recipe, or I wish I did have an extra lightbulb. It's on my list for the next time I make it to the store."
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Complain In Person6 of 10
Brynn, who lives in New York City, recalls neighbors who left a note on her door complaining about loud footsteps. "They told us—in writing—how rude and inconsiderate we were. I had no idea we were even making that much noise, but now I'm so nervous that I've literally been walking on my tiptoes ever since. And every time I accidentally drop something on the floor, my heart skips a beat." Leaving a note can send the wrong message. "if you're trying to be pleasant they're probably not going to get that," says Gottsman. "If there's ever a problem, dealing with it in person is always best."
Curb Decor Drama7 of 10
As Debby, from Columbus, Ohio, puts it: "You can trim your bushes your way; I can trim my bushes my way!" What you think is an eyesore, others may love. Unless your neighbor's holiday decorations—or lawn ornaments or whimsical bird feeders––are a hazard to anyone, hold your tongue. But if a cluttered lawn or stoop does become a detriment then, "speak with your neighborhood association [or property management company] to see what the rules and regulations are," says Gottsman. It may be within your rights to ask your neighbor to tidy up for the sake of everyone's safety.
Be Kind8 of 10
A little friendly chat about the weather is one thing, but telling everyone on the block that so-and-so might be having an affair is another. "My neighbor constantly fills me in on who has done what in the building," says Ariana. "No one has ever bothered me, and even if they did, I don't want to waste my time talking behind their back." Gottsman suggests taking the high road. "Don't take it upon yourself to fill them in on the neighborhood gossip; allow them to form their own opinions."
Don't Judge the Pooch9 of 10
Sure, not everyone is a dog person. But just because you've had to endure marathon barking sessions and some peeing in your flowerbeds before, don't assume right away that all pooches are alike. "Allow your neighbors time to show you how they handle their canine affairs," says Gottsman. "If he's barking on day one, then remember that he may be trying to acclimate to his new surroundings as well." However, if you do find that the dog barks incessantly, discuss the matter before threatening to call the police.
Party Without Guilt10 of 10
While the intention of a block party is always to build relationships and have fun, sometimes the stress of planning the event can get the best of neighbors. "While you can't make someone get involved, you can encourage everyone to sign up for a task or donate what they can toward the event," says Gottsman. But it is essential to avoid making people feel badly if they don't want to pitch in—you never know what their financial or emotional circumstances are—and everyone should feel welcome to attend.