Photo: How to talk to your neighbours

Getting along with your neighbours is important. (Credit: Jode Roberts)

By Lindsay Coulter

What I've learned about "greening" Canadians is that it's about relationships. And much of the time, those you wish would change can be neighbours. And that can mean neighbourly problems.

How neighbourly are you?

Before you approach neighbours about their scented dryer sheets or lawn pesticide use ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are you coming from a place of judgment?
  2. Are you prepared for the outcome? Are you prepared to change? (They might say something you don't want to hear.)
  3. Is the issue important enough to risk the relationship and potentially create conflict?

Five things to consider before your next neighbourly encounter:

  1. Establish a relationship first.
  2. Recognize their intention.
  3. Deal with the person (not the behaviour).
  4. Is there anything I can do?
  5. Maybe it's not worth talking about.

For example, I have a dog named Kitty. She poops. And on occasion I've been preoccupied in the dog park and missed the big event. This often leads to someone yelling, "Hey! Your dog just $#*! over there! Pay attention!" Except for one time when someone calmly said, "Do you need a bag?"

To me, the "how can I help?" attitude made all the difference. Now I try to incorporate it into all my neighbourly encounters, because nobody needs to be $#*! on about $#*!.