Don't compare yourself to Mr. Rogers or Ned Flanders, just use these quick tips to ensure you're being neighborly.
You may have just purchased your first home. Or maybe you've lived in your neighborhood for decades. Either way, you can be a good neighbor to those around you.
Some assume you need to be an extrovert to be a good neighbor. That simply isn't true. Whether you process things verbally with people and other extroverts or need intentional solitude to recharge, most people want to be a good neighbor. And if we're honest, we want people to be neighborly to us as well.
So where do you start? Don't worry, we're not suggesting you go overboard with the backing and house projects benefiting those living next door. And this isn't all about you planning the next block party. Just a few simple steps will help ensure good vibes throughout your neighborhood.
This might seem simple because, well ... it is! It doesn't take much effort or time. Each time you see your neighbor, give a quick wave and a smile. This goes a long way in developing a friendship.
We all like to be noticed. You can brighten your neighbor's day by acknowledging their presence and intentionally greeting them. Whether you're out in your yards, passing each other on a walk, or driving past them on your way to run errands, be sure you wave a quick, "Hello!"
When you're able to chat with your neighbor, listen to what they share. Do they have family in the area? Are there life struggles like illness or loss of work? How are they navigating the pandemic? You can take it a step further and offer a glass of iced tea while chatting on the porch.
Remember what you can and be sure to ask about that big promotion, new puppy, or house project they mentioned before. This helps them know you care about them. You might even come up with ways to help them celebrate big moments or lend a hand when they need some assistance. Feel free to remember how much they love brownies and take a couple over the next time your family bakes a batch.
Help When You Can
If you're like me, you might think this can be a slippery slope. And you're right. No one wants to be taken advantage of, and that includes you! I'm thinking that in the grand scheme of things, it's more likely to help with a small project than to be sucked into a full house remodel lasting months. Set healthy boundaries, and find ways to be helpful to your neighbors.
When you have extra time in the morning, shovel the snow off their sidewalk when you shovel your own. On trash day, drag their bins up to their garage when you're out doing the same with yours. Being helpful doesn't have to be a huge undertaking. Offer to feed their fish when they're out-of-town. And you can be willing to help move the couch from one room to the next when they ask.
Share What You Have
We all have countless tools and gadgets that we don't use all that often. Be willing to share a tool (or that special ladder that configures into dozens of positions) when your neighbor needs it. It's perfectly fine to ask for the tool to be returned by a certain date. That way, it frees you up from being a neighborly collector.
While we're on the subject of sharing, you can be willing to ask to borrow something from your neighbor. Sometimes our pride gets in the way, but giving your neighbor a chance to be neighborly is also a huge gift. Take great care of the borrowed tool and return it in better condition than you received it.
Initiate conversation to get to know your neighbor. Ask how work is going. Or what they're planning to do over the summer. Engage your neighbor, and listen to what they have to say.
You can also ask your neighbors how they feel about a tree in your yard that extends over into their yard. They could be bothered by the extra leaves in the fall, or they might just love the additional shade provided by the tree. You don't know until you ask, and your neighbor might not speak up.
Do you have a favorite or not-so-favorite neighbor? Without naming names, share in the comments.