The war next-door: How to settle a neighbourhood dispute

Jul 26, 2019

Whether you’re looking to improve your house, want to get rid of that ugly tree hanging over your fence, or you think your neighbours are “just a bunch of scoundrels who party with loud music far too often”. These pain-points amongst a multitude of other reasons can be the starting triggers for what are reasonably common neighbourhood disputes.

In case your fence is the sign-post for a standing dispute or has merely transitioned into a mental “de-fence” to hedge turbulent relationships with those living around you. Know that there are always steps you can take to either resolve your concerns before you enter a substantial dispute or how to best manage your not-so-neighbourly relationships should you already find yourself in the middle of a disagreement.

 

Get to know the “who” and “why” before combatting the “what”

When it comes to your home, where you live and who surrounds you, everyone can generally agree that they simply want to live in a happy, peaceful and safe environment. But how do you define happy, peaceful and safe from person to person? The reality is that even if you live in a generally calm neighbourhood, if for some reason someone’s normal idea of what these three buzzwords stand for is encroached upon, issues can arise quite quickly.

The best approach in gauging who and how certain activities may affect those around you, or how their actions may affect you, is to simply get to know them! Whether that’s a simple “welcome to the neighbourhood” or inviting them over for dinner. Establishing a good relationship with your neighbours from the get-go, will generally mean that an open and healthy dialogue between you and that neighbour is more naturally achievable into the future.

 

Approach the issue in the right way

On the topic of maintaining a healthy dialogue with your neighbours, consider these simple approach points in managing and maintaining relevant relationships:

  • Consult with your neighbour before you take any action that may impact them.
  • Take your neighbour’s concerns seriously, even if they seem small issues to you. When people feel heard and understood it is easier to work through a problem.
  • Don’t assume the other person knows there is a problem – often they don’t.
  • Discuss your approach with friends or family, they may have some useful ideas.
  • Make an attempt to talk or write to your neighbour before involving authorities and other agencies.
  • Remember to focus on the problem, not the person.
  • Work on what you can change, not what you can’t

When it comes to trying to mitigate issues, it’s commonly found that people are initially too scared to talk to their neighbour about potential concerns or they think their neighbour “should just know” that what they are doing is not appropriate. Don’t ever assume that your nieghbour is aware of your concerns. Often they aren’t aware and it’s just a simple misunderstanding, which needs to be calmly voiced and reciprocally resolved.

We do not suggest putting yourself in harm’s way or entering an unsafe situation. If you are concerned about your safety, please do not approach your neighbour. Instead, if you need assistance immediately, call your local police station.

 

Ask for help

Sometimes no matter how hard you may try, you and a neighbour may not be able to agree on a change or find mutual strategies to reduce the stress of a situation. If this is the case, the best next step to take on the path to resolution is to seek advice and/or involve an impartial third party to help you mediate your dispute. That’s where we come in.

At Conflict Resolution Service we offer a range of services to help you manage your neighbourhood concerns and relationships. From dispute counseling, to personally catered mediation sessions, to training and information sessions to help you improve your personal conflict resolution skills.

Get in touch with us today to see how we may be able to assist you or read more about how to prevent and resolve neighbourhood disputes firsthand by downloading our Healthy Neighbourhoods brochure.

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