Talk Openly To Your Neighbor When Offended

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Every now and then the Roundup receives a letter from someone complaining about a neighbor. It's our policy to return the letter unpublished and respectfully inform the writer that such private matters between two parties are best resolved one-on-one. Such disputes need not be aired in the pages of the community newspaper.

I think most of us appreciate it when someone we have offended affords us the courtesy of honest and direct communication. When that doesn't happen, feelings are hurt more deeply and walls go up higher. You may have experienced this at work with a co-worker who complained about you without being aware of the offense. Another example might be when a neighbor calls the police about something you didn't even know was bothering them. Perhaps you've had a relative who held a grudge against you for something that happened years ago but they never told you it caused them any pain.

In all of these cases, simply approaching the other person and speaking honestly with them could have avoided much unnecessary anguish and grief for both parties.

A few months ago, a young mother with four children brought in a different kind of letter -- a note from an unknown neighbor. She and her husband live in Payson and try to be good neighbors. One day, they received this anonymous letter in the mail.

Why not become a good neighbor?

1. Stop warming up your truck in cold weather.

2. Stop parking your truck on the front yard.

3. Stop fouling the air with wood heat -- use gas like civilized people. Smoke smells stinky.

4. Get a clothes dryer. (The family owns a dryer but apparently they also use a clothesline in the back yard.)

This is an example of an action that will only heighten ill feelings in a neighborhood. Because it was anonymous, it will cause one neighbor to look at another with mistrust. Even if there were good relations between two neighbors before the letter -- a person might now wonder if that neighbor feels differently than they act.

The young mother in this case was hoping she and her husband could invite the unknown neighbor to lunch and share a positive discussion. She hoped it would also be an opportunity to apologize for any offense their family may have caused and express a desire to remove ill feelings.

If you have a challenge with a neighbor, speak to them directly with soft words and respect. If you've already tried this, try again. If there is something you can do to make it better, do it. Don't let time and pride rob you of a good neighbor or a good community.

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