Culture How have you resolved a conflict with a neighbor? Eric Ringham July 28, 2010, 5:00 AM Jul 28, 2010 19 comments Today’s Midmorning looks at neighbors and what happens when problems arise between them. Today’s Question: How have you resolved a conflict with a neighbor? ‹ Older Is the release of classified information about the Afghan war a good thing? Newer › How does a firm’s political activity affect your willingness to shop at its stores? Browse by category Education Health Economy Politics/Government Culture Religion/Ethics Science/Technology Transportation Race/Gender Environment/Energy Security International affairs Immigration Media Military About the blogger Eric Ringham firstname.lastname@example.org John Munnich We have neighbors that are”Urban Homesteaders.” They have a small yard packed with crops and animals and all that entails. We initially were ok with them doing this, but their execution has left quite a bit to be desired. We have given up talking to them about toning it down, but instead comment on their poor decisions on their blog. Al We dealt with the neighbors at our last house by calling the police to report drug use and dealing, loud parties (about every 2 or 3 days), domestic violence, child endangerment, and blight. Given the understaffed and seemingly uncoordinated Minneapolis Police Department, that often, not always, resulted in the police showing up and asking that they stop whatever they were doing. Our first strategy was a 6 foot high fence. Eventually the problem did end. The man of the house committed suicide. His ghetto thug friends had to leave when the slum lord owner regained control of the place and sold it. A few months later other drug dealers moved in a couple of houses away. We dealt with that by moving. Steve the Cynic Being afflicted with Minnesota Nice, I don’t resove conflicts. I ignore them and hope they’ll go away. When they don’t (they never do), I mutter my resentments to myself but paste on a polite smile when talking to people I’m angry with. That way I can hang onto my resentments basically forever. I love the feeling I get from nursing my righteous indignation. If I were to actually talk to my neighbors about the issues I have with them, it would give them a chance to change, and then I’d have to mean it when I smile at them. Besides, I might find out I’m partly responsible for the problems, and I don’t want to have to deal with that. Enough sarcasm for now…………… Healthy Boundaries I live across the street from a set of neighbors where the mom is the home-owner and the adult daughter is residing there also with her grade-schooler. I find the homeowner to be pleasant, engaging and quite fun to be around. But the daughter is socially aggressive and will try to rope me into committing to outings with her a lot and it makes me uncomfortable. Recently, the homeowner asked me for my email and I gave it to her. Instead of receiving an email from the the homeowner though, I received one from her daughter. It said something like: “When can you help me with the flyers for the neighborhood party?” Well, I had never agreed to help with any party so I never responded to the email. About a week later the homeowner left me a voicemail and asked if I had received her daughter’s email regarding helping with the party. I was quite irritated because again, I never gave the daughter my email and never agreed to help as I am quite busy with coaching and working two jobs and raising my child on my own. Well instead of stewing about it, I just walked over to their house. I kind of jokingly but sternly said: “When did I agree to help with the party?” I explained that I was volunteering and working two jobs, etc. and that I would love to attend the party but that I had no time to help out with it. I liked how I dealt with it as it established that I cannot be socially bullied so to speak. I would rather be respected than liked as a neighbor and I have done plenty of things for my neighbors like make them pies and have them over for wine but I felt this crossed a line. I am not sure how this may effect the relationship going forward but I am willing to be o.k. with it as I am satisfied with the boundary I established. Good boundaries make good neighbors! Steve I dont really have conflicts with neighbors-they are really great and i live in a wonderful area. I help neighbors out whenever i can and we share tools, food or whatever. We are having a block party this friday to keep connected! Susan In response to the recent discussion about how to approach a neighbor whose yard doesn’t meet the standard of the neighborhood I think that if it bothers you that much one approach would be to go over to their house, introduce yourself, comment positively on the work that they have done and then offer to help with the yard work. The assistance might be better received if you mention how time and labor consuming yard work can be – sympathize with them a little. Further, offer to share your yard tools – trimmers, hedgers, wheel barrel . . . Laine Bryce I happily found a good solution that works with problem neighbors. In two different cases–one a hard-of-hearing neighbor who had a loud radio in his yard all day, every day, and another early morning barking dog. I baked some homemade brownies and delivered them, asking their help fixing the problem. It worked perfectly! How can a person not respond well to getting a tasty gift? And the peace was preserved. CJ Bad neighbor problems are quickly exacerbated when city officials don’t hold up their end. We have utter craziness next door. The owners live elsewhere and are not the brightest bulbs on the Christmas tree. The house is falling apart yet they somehow got the approval and funds to have it jacked up and built a basement underneath then dropped the deteriorating house back down without any further work. Siding crumbling off. Then they added an attached garage which has never been finished. Five years later, the plywood surface bows and the shabbily attached plastic sheeting flaps in the breeze. We’re in a small town and the council does nothing (no money resources? none of them live close by). The owner’s idea of yard care is to come by twice a summer and round up the entire thing. It’s a gem. My solution? A privacy hedge. At least in the summer I can work in my garden without having to gaze upon that eyesore. I feel sorry for the folks across the street. I’m hoping with the next election, we’ll get some folks on the council who are willing to do the work required to get properties like this dealt with. In the meantime, the hedge keeps growing and I decided it wasn’t worth the ulcer to obsess about it. WinonaKath I haven’t had to do it often, but I start with a phone call. That has the advantage of not being face to face, but you are still talking directly to the person and you can identify yourself. I find that this almost always works. If it doesn’t, I ask other neighbors who are also unhappy to call as well. Matt Passive agressiveness. Krista We had a neighbor that sold and used drugs in the front yard, had loud parties, a pit bull on the loose, and neglected children. The house had grass that was a foot long, broken windows, and junk everywhere. To top it off, they had extra thugs that lived in the basement. When talking it out didn’t work anymore or when it got too dangerous, we started to read city ordinances and take pictures (or recordings). That way, when we called the police, city, or slumlord we had PROOF and we could show the authorities exactly what was going on. This only works when EVERYBODY in the neighborhood does this. We were the only ones who called the police, wrote down license plates, and took a stand. It was scary. We moved. The neighborhood we live in now once had a problem house, too. We found out at our neighborhood party that rest of the neighbors would sit in their lawn chairs, write down plates, and call the police. We knew this was the place for us. Philip When I lived in NE Mpls we had a house on our block that was into everything criminal imaginable, to include the use of their garage as a chop shop. We organized a neighborhood watch and took turns sitting outside in plain view holding a camcorder and phone. It took a couple of months, because they wanted to see how serious we were about it. It worked, but you can’t become complacent. You have to commit to the long haul. It’s sort of like disciplining your kids; if you punish them, then you are also having to sacrifice your time to enforce the punishment. DNA Prevention (living the Golden Rule helps), so far so good. Mary I asked our city to explain to our new neighbors what the ordinances were. Our city, Hopkins, offers a website for complaints as well as a phone line. Our neighbors were leaving their garbage and recycling containers in front of our house. The wind would knock them over and I was stuck picking up thier mess. They also would put their filled leaf bags on top of my garden. They are odd people. Yes they vaccum their car, but they do the outside not the inside. CC&H We moved here from Los Angeles and the day we moved in, our neighbor called the cops because our dog barked. The cops wouldn’t tell us which neighbor, but since then she’s called the cops so often that we finally figured out who it was. In Los Angeles the neighbor would have come to the door, probably would have welcomed us to the neighborhood first but then would’ve addressed the issue. What we’ve learned after living here for 17 years is that in Minnesota people handle every unpleasant thing in a passive aggressive and, if possible, anonymous way. “Minnesota Nice”? LOL Mary CC&H – We did welcome them to the neighborhood and asked them several times to keep their containers in front of their own home. It was when that didn’t work that we went to the city. MRG Living in our house for almost 9 years, we’ve found that taking the time to get to know people can help smooth over conflicts. We’ve heard nuisance barking dogs — solved by going and talking to our neighbor (who didn’t see us as a threat because we’d been friendly in the past). When a vehicle was abandoned in our alley, we immediately knew it didn’t belong there (as opposed to a neighbor just parking it there indefinitely) because we know our neighbors’ vehicles. A little love and understanding goes a long way — we’re all just people sharing this world. CC&H Mary – I understand and would have LOVED having a neighbor like you! Steve the Cynic CC&H, what you may not have realized is that many of us long-time-but-not-native Minnesotans regard “Minnesota nice” as a euphemism for passive aggression.