Property Management Report – The Lost Art of Civility

By Tom Simon, Managing Member, Westgate Properties, LLC

Loving your neighbor can be an unattainable goal for some but being civil to your neighbor when problems arise should be achievable. Here are some tips for keeping it civil:

Get to know them: Start early. Introduce yourself when they or you are new to the community. Be upbeat: “Hi, I’m your new neighbor.” Smile and be nice; get to know them and let them get to know you. This works whether you’re the one moving in or they are. By introducing yourself early on, before there is a problem, you’re letting them know that you are a normal, friendly person willing to make at least a minimal effort to communicate.

Participate in ice breaker events: If you are lucky enough to live in a community where your neighbors are willing to organize community events, go to them. Your neighbors are going to a lot of trouble to make the events happen, don’t deprive them of your beauty and charm!

When problems arise: You have sewn some seeds for a cordial relationship and now it’s time to make use of it. I suggest using the sandwich approach. Say something nice, then say the difficult thing followed by something nice. Here’s an example [Don’t say the things in brackets.]:

YOU: Jake, can we chat for a minute about that gorgeous [ugly] dog of yours?

JAKE: Oh yeah, we sure love her [She’s a pain—my wife’s dog really, but what can you do?]. She’s great with the kids [But do they ever walk her?]. What’s up?

YOU: Well, I really like [like…on a farm] dogs but you may not be aware that yours barks all day when you’re at work and because I work nights and sleep during the day, I’m at a loss for what to do about it. Do you have any ideas? ‘Cause I really like having you as a neighbor and love living here. And, other than the [insanity inducing] barking she seems like a great dog.

With some luck and maturity on both sides, your neighbor will appreciate you letting him know and may have ideas on what can be done. You may even do some homework before speaking to him and be able to suggest a solution, such as a bark collar. If you can’t arrive at a solution or if the conversation turns ugly, be sure to document your efforts, send your documentation to your community manager and request his or her assistance.

Tom Simon is a Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA), Association Management Specialist (AMS) and Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM) and Managing Member of WestGate Properties LLC.