Parking! It is one of the biggest sources of contention between neighbors. We have all had someone park in our “spot” whether accidentally or on purpose. Before you storm over to your neighbors house, or call the tow truck, read this post for 4 tips to consider before talking to your neighbor about anything that annoys you.
I live in a condo community with front of house parking. Recently, we had three cars park in front our house and they didn’t move for a while. This forced my family to park elsewhere. One Saturday morning, we found a note from our neighbor asking us not to park in front of her house.We were stuck. There were unfamiliar cars in our parking spaces that hadn’t moved in a day. I decided to go knocking on doors to see who the cars belonged too. Before I left the house though, I prepared myself for the interactions and you should, too.
For me the issue was parking. Whether your issue with your neighbor is parking, a pet, a fence, or a tree, consider these tips before you talk to them. And yes, you should talk to them before taking action.
1. Check your anger.
Why are you going over to your neighbors house? If your immediate answer is “to tell the annoying neighbors off”, then rethink the point. You are powerless to make anyone do anything. Chances are you have “put up” with the disturbing behavior from your annoying neighbors without saying anything for a while. This means that when you are ready to actually say something, you are probably irritated and mad. Anger is not a good leading man.
Check your emotions, take a deep breath and only speak to your neighbor when you are not angry. Here is another tip. You don’t need to talk to all the other neighbors before you talk to the one with whom you take issue. That will just get you all riled up again. Resist!
2. Form your overall communication point.
What is your OCP? (Overall Communication Point) This is the point that you will come back to and state repeatedly during the conversation. I came up with my OCP before I left the house. It went something like this: “You may not be aware that there are assigned parking spaces on this street. The two in front of my house are ours. You have one in front of your house and one on the side. Guest parking is designated in the grassy areas. Please let your guests know their parking options.”
Initially that sounded cold and impersonal but as I tell my clients, the OCP is the bare bones of what you want to say. Once you know what you want to say, use your tone of voice and body language to deliver the OCP in the most pleasant way possible. What is it that you want to say? Write it down. Say it out loud. Be very clear on the points, not the emotion with which you want to convey it. What is your goal of the conversation?
3. Get the facts.
Before I headed over to my neighbors house, I had to find the answer to an important question. Do we have assigned parking? The answer to that can change my OCP and delivery. Don’t assume you have the facts, so check to be sure you do. What are the facts surrounding the problem you are having? What documents or sources exist to objectively back those facts?
4. Be polite and respectful.
Treat all people, even annoying neighbors, with respect. Keep that in mind. Last week, I posted 21 verses on communication. Follow that link and read through some of those to find wisdom on what to say. Even if you are in the “right”, do you really want to make an enemy because you shove your “right” down your neighbors throat?
So, what happened?
I spoke with the neighbor who left the note on my door. I had my OCP for her ready. I apologized for her inconvenience, explained what I was doing to actively stop annoying her, and then I asked her patience until it sorted itself out. She was more than gracious. I then proceeded to talk with my other neighbor whose guests were taking our parking space. They apologized for our inconvenience and said they would inform their guests of the parking options.
It all worked out and we preserved our neighborly relations. The key is having a well crafted, well prepared, and well executed communication strategy.
Have you ever had a neighbor dispute that ended well or poorly? What lesson did you learn from it?