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.