It doesn't take much to have poor relationships with your neighbors. After all, if you share an apartment building, there's not a lot of distance or soundproofing that can manage noise levels. Also, there's no way to avoid seeing your neighbors on a semi-regular basis. You also don't want to dread coming home or even walking out your front door because you've got bad relations with those who live nearby. Strive to be the neighbor everyone (or at least most of them) like. If you're intentional about being kind, it can make a big difference. Here are four ways you can make serious improvements and be the best neighbor you can be.
The famous Dale Carnegie once said, "a person's name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” That saying applies to your relationships with your neighbors. When you meet your neighbors for the first time (or maybe you've met them a few times before but never got their names), make a point of remembering their names by repeating it back to them. "Bob, right? Okay, I'll try to remember that." Be brave even if you don't feel like it, and that will go a long way. When you get home, write down their unit number and name so you don't forget. Next time you see them, say, "Hey, Bob. How's it going?" We can almost guarantee that will start things off on the right foot.
Manage Your Noise Levels
Don't be the guy or gal who everyone hates because you wear wooden clogs at all hours and crank up the music to deafening levels because, dammit, that's just who you are. You don't live in a bubble. After all, you don't want others do to the same thing to you, and you certainly don't want to alienate yourself from the rest of your neighbors. If you like music, get some headphones. If you walk a lot, get some soft slippers. If you're planning a party, kindly notify your neighbors of the day and time you're having the party (or just invite them!). Buy them a bottle of wine if your party gets out of hand, and always apologize.
You don't have to insert yourself in every situation, but don't be afraid to help your neighbors. If a neighbor is carrying armloads of groceries, hold the door. Offer to grab a few bags for him or her. If one of your neighbors is elderly, offer to clean the snow off his or her car or offer to run out to get something for them so they don't have to risk a fall in bad weather. If a couple is always busy and has kids, offer to sit for them for a couple of hours so they can have a date night (if their kids aren't little hellions, that is). Look for opportunities to be a helpful neighbor. These things go a long way.
Understand and Respect Boundaries
As much as you're trying to be a friendly neighbor, don't push it too much. Take the time to read the signs. Some people want a lot of privacy, so you should throw them a wide berth. Say hi, but don't be overly friendly. Try to read them. If they push back a lot, just be respectful. If they seem lonely, kindly ask them how they're doing. If they want to talk more, take the time to do so. If you don't want to be friends, at least be courteous. But if you open your life to others out of kindness, and you also learn how to draw your own boundaries while respecting others, you will find that others will understand and appreciate you as a good neighbor. If a neighbor declines an invitation to your party, don't be offended. Just say, "that's ok, maybe next time!"