Good Neighbor Relations

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Sometimes neighbors do not see “eye-to-eye” on every situation, or there is something going on in the neighborhood that is troublesome. In these cases, the most lasting solutions come from a conversation and agreement between affected neighbors.

At first this can seem difficult, but most people want to preserve a good relationship with their neighbors, and many times a neighbor would prefer a face-to-face conversation rather than being “turned in” to the County.

If you need assistance with information on your concerns, you can contact  the county's Neighborhood Program Coordinator at neighborhoods@clark.wa.gov.  You can also talk with one of the board members of your Neighborhood Association if you have questions or concerns, and they can direct you to other resources, which may include referral to Community Mediation Services.

Clark County Code Enforcement has developed a Neighborhood Guide with answers to frequently asked questions and contact information with helpful phone numbers.

Community Mediation Services is a local non-profit organization that specializes in conflict resolution services for neighbors. They can help facilitate a productive conversation, or provide a safe environment to come to a mutual agreement.

Their services are confidential, voluntary, affordable and effective. To learn more, visit mediationclarkcounty.org or contact Community Mediation Services at (360) 334-5862 or info@mediationclarkcounty.org 
 

How to prevent conflicts with neighbors

The key way to prevent conflicts with neighbors is to be a good neighbor yourself. Simple consideration and conversation with neighbors helps achieve a peaceful coexistence. Here are several suggestions for preventing conflicts:

Meet your neighbor. Introduce yourself. Regularly say “hello” before there is any need or problem.

Keep your neighbors informed. Contact them before undertaking something that might affect them – such as hosting a big party, building a fence, cutting down a tree or getting a puppy. Informing your neighbors ahead of time allows them to make plans or tell you how your project affects them.

Be aware of differences. Differences in age, ethnic backgrounds, years in the neighborhood, etc. can lead to conflicting expectations or misunderstandings unless you try to talk with an understand each other. Focus on what you have in common with your neighbor.

Consider your neighbor’s point of view, literally. How does your compost pile, play equipment or son’s car parts look from your neighbors’ backyard or windows?

Be appreciative. If a neighbor does something you like, tell them! They’ll be pleased that you noticed, and it will be easier to talk later if they do something you don’t like.

Be positive. If your neighbor does something that irritates you, don’t assume it was on purpose. Most people don’t intentionally try to create problems.

Be candid. If your neighbors do something that bothers you, let them know. By communicating early and calmly, you take a step toward solving the problem. Be tolerant but don’t let a real irritation go because it seems unimportant or hard to discuss. Your neighbor won’t know the situation bothers you.

Be calm. If a neighbor approaches you accusingly about a difficulty, listen carefully and thank them for telling you how they feel. You don’t have to agree or justify your behavior. If you can listen and not react defensively, their anger may subside, the lines of communication remain open and there is a good chance of working things out.

Be respectful. Talk directly with the neighbor involved about any problems. Don’t gossip. Gossip damages relationships and creates trouble.

Listen well. When you discuss a problem, try to understand how your neighbor feels about the issue and why. Understanding is not the same as agreeing, and will increase the likelihood of a solution that works for you both.

Take your time. If you need to, take a break to think about what you and your neighbor have discussed. Arrange to finish the conversation later, and then do so. Beginning something and not following through can create a problem or make an existing problem worse.

Get help when needed. Communication can resolve conflict, and talking things over is the best way to handle problems and create solutions that will last. But at times you may need the help of a neutral third party trained in conflict resolution. If you need help in talking with a neighbor or confidential assistance with a conflict do not hesitate to call Community Mediation Services.

 

These tips are courtesy of “Good Neighbor Handbook” distributed by City of Vancouver’s Office of Neighborhoods.