By Eddy Montilla.
People from different cultures usually have different ways to deal with problems in which neighbours are involved. A Japanese student told me once that she quarreled with her neighbor over their natural boundary fences. For almost 10 years, they did not speak each other. Perhaps unwittingly, they made some kind of mutual agreement that consisted in taking out the garbage at different hours to avoid seeing each other.
“How is your relationship with her now?” I asked my student, just for curiosity.
”Now?” She said. “Now it is fine; we can say: Hello!”
In opposite direction, I remember having seen two neighbours in the Dominican Republic fighting for a “piece of banana peel” in the morning and drinking and singing together in the evening. Regardless of what the reasons (problems) may be and the possible solutions you may take, to deal with quarrels related to people who live near you is always delicate and problematic. Let’s see some steps that can help you not to be in that position.
Step 1: Make your greeting your best support
The “everybody knows that” phrase is in fact one of the things we neglect more. Everybody knows how important to greet is and despite of that, we don’t do it as we should. Whenever the situation arises, greet your neighbours. Greet them with a slight smile. You don’t have to start a conversation if you don’t want to. You don’t have to establish an in-depth relationship with them if that’s not part of your plan, but the benefits of greeting them is undeniable. Even if you are a nerd, unsociable and grumpy person (I hope you are not!), a single greeting will make your neighbours perceive that you are a nice person who makes them to be lucky enough to have you living near them. When people do not greet, rumors swirl and problems approach.
Step 2: Do not reach the breaking point
Arguments among neighbours do not difer too much from those people have with husbands and wives: It usually starts with a simple fact, one thing, but later, someone brings another thing up, everything gets complicated and you know the rest. In an atmosphere of great tension, mistakes tend to pile up. So, try to find a better moment to resolve your differences.
Step 3: Do not talk to “B neighbours” about problems you have with “A neighbours”
Neighbours are like members of a family as we said before, and therefore, they share something in common: They have to struggle to keep secrets. If for a cruel twist of fate, your differences change direction (B instead A), what do you think he or she will do with all things you said about the other neighbours? If you need a piece of advice, ask for it to your friend instead.
Step 4: Think twice before taking actions that can jeopardize forever your relationships with your neighbours
When things go wrong with a person who lives far from you, it is easy to take another street if you want to avoid him or her. That’s, however, impossible when this person lives some meters away from your property. You cannot sell your house. Neither can he (she). You don’t want to move, neither does he (she). To live near a person you dislike is like a true copy of Hell. Every move he takes, every sound he makes will be hurting you. So, when you have problems or are about to, think of the step 2, and don’t take actions you can regret later. Don’t put your foot on the accelerator; apply the brakes instead.
Step 5: Keep in mind how valuable a good neighbor can be
You are sick and cannot take your children to school. Your neighbours can do it while taking theirs too. This is only one example, but like this one, there are dozens of situations when our neighbours get us off the hook. Neighbours are your closest relatives. They are the first ones to come to the aid of you when you are in trouble. Then, it is wise to be in good terms with them because if you throw your relationship with your neighbours overboard for a quarrel, you will have lost people who can rescue if you fall out of the boat.
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