Loud sex, late nights and vile smells…sometimes it’s easier to hate the people who live next door to us than to like them. We’ve all had that neighbor and we’ve all been that neighbor, but what’s important is learning how to comfortably live next door to the people who live next door. This is especially true in a town like New York City, where apartments are usually small and walls are usually thin. We hear more unwarranted sounds and noises in a week than small town dwellers hear in a lifetime, but in spite of this we have to fight the urge to blast our sound systems or strike the ceiling with a broomstick out of revenge, because after all, we don’t know when we might need our neighbor to let us into the building or bring in our UPS packages. Here’s a short instructional guide to better knowing your neighbors, or dare I say, loving your neighbors.
Get to know names and faces: The nameless neighbor differs greatly from the neighbor who you can put a name and face to. So, go out of your way to introduce yourself to your neighbor, and tell them where you live. It’s a good bet that your upstairs neighbor will feel less inclined to do their dance aerobics at your bedtime if they remember that you’re the friendly neighbor that lives below them.
Make conversation: In addition to getting to know names and faces, get to know your neighbor. That doesn’t mean that you two need to watch episodes of Scandal together or that you need to hit the club. But, to know your neighbor is to better understand your neighbor, and if you understand them then it’s easier to forgive the fact they play loud jazz or that clouds of marijuana smoke drift from beneath their door each time they open it.
Invite them over for dinner: Notice that your neighbors don’t keep a tidy home or that they cook things that make the entire building smell like eggs and ashtrays? Try inviting your neighbor over to show them how it’s done. A polite invitation that’s laced with motive is a seemingly innocent way to subtly promote your own choices in decor and tastes. You can easily make recommendations, offer advice and even offer to be of assistance from time to time.
Do favors, return favors: Most people have redeeming qualities; this is even true of the worst neighbor. You can exhibit some of your good qualities by doing small acts of kindness in your building. If you do small favors for your neighbors, they will return the favor…and if your neighbor does something for you, be sure that you do the same.
Pass on the passive, aggressive or passive aggressive behavior: Your neighbor threw a loud party with no notice or their dog pissed on your doorstep, and you’re rightfully upset. Don’t take this as an invitation to curse them out, but at the same time don’t let it slide if it really bothered you. Take some time out to talk with your neighbor face-to-face about your concerns. If your schedules clash then make a phone call or leave a note. It’s important to share your frustrations, but make sure that you don’t come off too hostile.
Let bygones… Some noises are unavoidable on both sides of the wall, so don’t get fired up each time your neighbor moans like a ghost during sex. This is the time to pop in some headphones or turn up the radio. Chances are, if you can hear them, they can usually hear you–and if they aren’t making a big fuss about your bedframe striking the wall then you shouldn’t be complaining either. Just saying.