07/31/2014 12:07 EDT | Updated 09/30/2014 05:59 EDT

Sticky Situation: How To Be a Good Neighbour

It is a very quiet Tuesday morning and I'm looking for inspiration for my next sticky situation blog. I search my inbox for emails from solution seekers. Hmmm, nothing gets my fingers in a typing mood.

After posting a worst annoyances request on Facebook, I am surprised and all fingers by your comments.

You are fed up with your neighbours' lack of civility! You never wanted neighbours like them. Since they moved in, it's never a beautiful day in your neighbourhood.

Louie, on the left, lets his radio sing outside while he argues with his spouse, inside. Tammy, on top, hallucinates about your washer -- which is never in operation after 19:00, waking her up in the middle of the night. The once cute couple behind threatens to cut your tree, because their pool's filter clogs from your pine needles, from your tree. Plus the dogs yap at all hours of the day and night. Grrrrrr! You want to bark back. This is not Mister Rogers beautiful neighbourhood.

Thank you! My fingers are on a typing mission: The Neighbour's Code of Conduct.

Just like with family members one you cannot choose his neighbours. Friend or Foe? It could be up to you.


Here are 10 guidelines to cultivate harmony and good neighbourly relations.

1. Familiarize yourself with the nuisance regulation for your municipality or your building. Take particular note of possibly irritating sights and sounds. For example, some municipalities forbid clothesline while others have a noise pollution table with acceptable decibels at varying hours.

2. Introduce yourself to your neighbours. Talk to them. Get to know them. You will be less frustrated by fighting siblings, if you know that their father is on a military mission and their mother is solo parenting their four children, with no outside help, for six month.

3. Respect your neighbours' property, their schedules and their private lives. Be discreet and do not repeat what you may have heard over the fence or behind the door. Call before visiting. Ask permission before setting foot on their land. Make sure your offsprings are also familiar with these rules and that kitty and puppy don't use their yard to relieve themselves.

4. Do unto your neighbours as you would have them do unto to you. It's the first storm of the season. Your gleaming new snow blower awaits you in the garage. You blow to your heart's content. While you're at it, clear your neighbour's lane way. You have tons and tons of tomatoes in your garden. Share your harvest.

5. Tell them about upcoming tranquility interruption. Do it in person. Give your phone number so that they talk to you directly to voice their grievances, instead of calling the police. If you are planning an outdoor party, consider inviting them.

6. Try not to borrow from your neighbour. If you do use one of the tools from the garage next door, take it back as soon as you have completed your task. You broke it? Say it, apologize and replace it. You cannot afford to buy another? You should not have borrowed it in the first place.

7. Maintain and embellish your property. As we all know this "keeping up with the Jones" contagious effect will add value to the street and even your whole neighborhood.

8. Spread harmony. Smile. Say "Hello". Offer your wishes for the holidays. These gestures of civility are also contagious.

9. Appreciate and thank your next-door dwellers for special attentions and favours. Do it in person, on the phone, by email or by leaving a note in the mailbox. All means are good.

10. And if one of your neighbours bursts your domestic bliss bubble, follow these steps:

• Breathe. Plan your discussion.

• Go to your neighbour in person.

• Do not discipline other residents' children or pets. Speak directly to the adult caregiver.

• Be direct and friendly.

• Describe the irritating situation objectively.

• Do not point fingers. Do not blame.

• Suggest a mutually beneficial solution.

"Hello Louis. When the boys play basketball, their ball often lands in my flowers. Could you ask them to redirect the net to a safer area? Thank you."

Your neighbour does not want to? Avoid making a foe, consider citizen mediation. This is the civilized way to resolve "fence feuds" without seeking advice and to ensure that you stay out of courts. Community members trained in mediation, will help you find a win-win solution.

Ask your councillor, or mayor, to display this Code of Conduct on his Facebook page, or on the city's website.

You have a sticky situation at work or home? This is your forum. Write to Julie and she will reply promptly. Want more solutions to sticky situations? Go to Facebook, Twitter and order your autographed copy of Etiquette: Confidence & Credibility. Planning a conference? Julie happily travels coast to coast and beyond, to present customized activities.


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