Are You A Good Neighbor?

Forget about keeping up with the Joneses; just try to get along with them. Whether you like it or not, how you get along with your neighbors plays a large role in the peace you will find at home.

So getting to know your neighbors and being a good neighbor are very important. Betty Wong, the executive editor of Family Circle magazine, visits The Early Show to offer the following tips on how to deal with likeable or not-so-likeable neighbors.

Establish Good Will - You need to develop some sort of polite relationship with your neighbors. You certainly don't need to be best friends, but it'll be much easier to deal with any problems that might arise later, or to call on your neighbors for an occasional favor, if you're at least on cordial terms. You should know each other's names, greet each other in the mornings. Establishing that good will early on really goes a long way in preventing arguments and problems later.

Find Common Ground - If your neighbors haven't come over to welcome you yet, don't assume they're being unfriendly. They might worry about bothering you when you're busy unpacking and settling in. Don't be afraid to stop by and introduce yourself. To make it easier, try to find some common ground to chat about. Maybe you both have young kids and you can ask about the schools in your area, or maybe you love what your neighbor has done with the garden, and you want to plant something similar in your front yard.

I think that if more of us took time to be nice neighbors, we'd probably find that others would be considerate in return.

Communicate - It may seem hard to believe, but often neighbors aren't aware that their behavior could possibly bother anyone else. And once they find out, they're happy to fix it.

  • Loud Music: You could use the "it's-not-you-it's-me" strategy, and explain how you're a light sleeper or you suffer from migraines, so could he help out by keeping his music down?

    Assuming that everyone involved is reasonable and sane, simply approaching your neighbor and coming up with a resolution that works for everyone can solve most problems like this. Maybe your neighbor can limit the loud music to certain hours of the day, like when you're out at work, but keep it down after dinner and in the mornings. A pleasant conversation is often enough to clear up any problem.

  • Offensive Smells: You have every right to enjoy living in your apartment without having to deal with unpleasant smells. But your neighbors also have the right to cook whatever cuisine they like in their home. Try to keep in mind that your neighbors aren't doing this to annoy you. If you work up the nerve to say something to your neighbor, start with something like, "I'm sure you probably don't realize it, but…" Then offer a specific solution that you can both live with. Maybe your neighbor could open the windows or use an exhaust fan in the kitchen to vent out some of the cooking fumes. Be sure to make it a two-way conversation; ask if you're causing any problems for her.

Another approach is to talk to management. Whether you own or rent your apartment, the super or perhaps the co-op board could step in to help. Maybe there's a problem with the vent if smells are coming in from another apartment. Or sometimes, repairs to the baseboard molding in your apartment can patch up any holes where drafts and smells could be coming in. Take the initiative so you don't have to suffer in silence.