8 Tips to Be a Better Neighbor From St. Louis Magazine

Article originally posted by STLMag
Sarah Broyles of Etiquette St. Louis offers practical and thoughtful ways to build—keep—good relationships.

1. Save the screen for later

When you’re out and about in your neighborhood, leave your phone at home or put it in your pocket in an effort to meet your neighbors. “You don’t have to be best friends, but by knowing your neighbors and offering the occasional helping hand, you can cultivate a better culture and closer community,” says Broyles. Familiarity also imparts a greater sense of security. If at some point you need help from someone within the immediate vicinity, you can’t comfortably ask for it if you haven’t first fostered some semblance of a relationship.

2. Mind your pets

Pet owners are routinely out and about in the neighborhood. “Be courteous towards others by making sure you know where your pet is at all times,” says Broyles. Bring [your barking dog] indoors, know when a leash is required, and don’t leave home without a bag, she says. And know your pet’s boundaries: Walk a pet who’s anxious and can’t go out without charging another person or pet early or late in the day, when you’re unlikely to encounter neighbors.

3. Keep neighbors in the loop 

Mutual respect and proactive communication are crucial to a peaceful and positive relationship with neighbors.  If you’re planning a home or landscaping project that’s close to your property line, inform your neighbor in advance and share the date and time that the crew will be arriving. “The benefits are twofold,” Broyles explains. “Your neighbor can take the additional noise and activity into consideration when planning their day, and they’ll feel they’ve been treated respectfully.”

4. Avoid “keyboard courage” 

Neighborhood apps like Nextdoor and Facebook are popular and efficient ways for neighbors to share information and receive updates from homeowners’ associations, but don’t rely solely on virtual communications intended for large groups. When a neighbor-specific issue arises, handle it directly. If that approach is unsuccessful, call an HOA member for mediation. “Don’t be passive-aggressive and post something negative online. You can’t foresee or control the consequences of unkind posts,” Broyles says.

5. Watch Your Speed 

This one may seem obvious, but it’s one of the easiest rules to bend and therefore mend. Maintain the speed limit in your neighborhood and familiarize yourself with the location of speed bumps or sawhorses that will require reduced speed to navigate. “Be on the lookout for children playing or people walking, and slow down while you’re passing them. It can make a neighbor skittish if a car comes up behind them quickly,” says Broyles. If you have teenage drivers in the house, make them aware of these rules of the road, too.

6. Be inclusive

If you’re organizing a neighborhood party, don’t exclude families because of past grievances. Broyles calls this “middle school bully” behavior. She warns that this type of behavior could result in an awkward situation between families and cause neighbors pressure to pick sides.  “Remember that you live in proximity to one another in a shared community,” says Broyles.  “Make sure you’re contributing to creating the best possible culture.”

7. Volume matters

Apartment dwellers should be mindful of volume. “You’re living in much closer quarters, so turn your music down a few notches, get to your pet a little sooner in the morning, and keep social gatherings to a manageable size.” Of utmost importance: Do your part to keep hallways clean and odorless. Common spaces aren’t storage lockers.

8. Be social at a distance 

During times of challenge, it’s important to find ways to connect with others to help combat feelings of isolation. “Organize a driveway get-together where neighbors bring their own chairs and drinks and spread out,” says Broyles. “If you’re heading to the store, offer to pick up supplies or carry-out.” Simply going on more walks and taking the time to chat from a few feet apart can be restorative, Broyles notes: “In the midst of the craziness of 2020, getting to know your neighbors better can be an unexpected upside.”

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