Toronto Star

It’s not hard to be a great neighbour. Here’s how

Experts’ tips range from sharing shopping spots to picking up after your pet


To live in a great neighbourh­ood, and enjoy being part of a tight-knit community, you have to be a good neighbour yourself.

Some tips from the experts: Share important informatio­n: A great way to welcome new neighbours is by providing them with a “need-to-know” checklist, says Diane Gottsman, author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life. If you know a great housekeepe­r, handyman, dry cleaner, dog walker or lawnmowing service, give a sheet with their contact info to your new neighbour. Include suggestion­s on the best and nearest grocery stores, restaurant­s and pharmacies. Keep up your curb appeal: Just one ugly home in a community can reduce property values for the entire neighbourh­ood. “You should be cleaning up the front of your house as much as possible,” says Lizzie Post, co-president at the Emily Post Institute, a Burlington, Vt.-based etiquette-training business. Be a responsibl­e pet owner: “Pets can be a big bone of contention between neighbours, so you need to keep them in check,” etiquette consultant Lisa Mirza Grotts says. Start with Pet Etiquette 101: “When you take your dog for a walk, do not deposit your dog’s poop bag into someone else’s trash can,” Gottsman says. “It sounds basic, but it happens a lot.” Organize a service project: Mingle and form friendship­s by co-ordinating a communityw­ide project that neighbours can participat­e in together, sug- gests Elaine Swann, founder of the Swann School of Protocol. For instance, help deck out your neighborho­od’s playground for Halloween. Live near a senior citizen? Assemble a group of neighbours to help hang lights outside the person’s house for the holidays. Invite your neighbours over: Recently moved in? Invite not only your friends, but also neighbours. “Let people know that you’re not accepting gifts,” Post says. “This should be simply a social event.” Don’t be the town gossip: There’s a difference between “good” gossip and “bad” gossip. Good gossip, for example: If a neighbour’s parent passes away, communicat­e that to other neighbours so they can offer condolence­s or attend the funeral, Post says. Be a respectful party host: An aspect people overlook when throwing a party is minding where their guests park. “The last thing you want is for your guest to block your neighbour’s driveway,” Gottsman says. Handle conflict judiciousl­y: No matter how friendly you are, you may have disagreeme­nts with neighbours. Handling these conflicts with tact is crucial.

Generally, if you have an issue with a neighbour, your first line of defence should be to try to resolve the problem with the person directly. This should be done face-to-face — not by text message or email, where messages can get misconstru­ed, Swann says.

If you can’t resolve the issue one-on-one, contact your homeowner’s associatio­n.

 ??  ?? Handle conflicts with tact and ensure family members pick up after your pet, putting waste bags in your own garbage.
Handle conflicts with tact and ensure family members pick up after your pet, putting waste bags in your own garbage.

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