Standing in my kitchen, I notice the dining room wall tremble. As the sound of the neighbor’s stereo passes through the joint wall, I cannot ignore it. Normally I spend my time in another room, and their music does not really affect me. However, this evening I am hosting a group of friends in the dining room and wish to fully enjoy time with my guests.
It happens seventeen years ago. I am new to the area and renting a townhome. I do not know my neighbors.
So, what do I do?
I knock on the door, introduce myself. and compliment their amazing stereo system, particularly the bass. I explain my desire to enjoy an evening with friends and ask if they could please turn down the music for the evening. They do, and in fact, I never hear their music again.
A friend suggests I could have pounded on the wall, and gone over there and told them, “You need to turn that music down.” What if I had? Would they have felt disrespected, and in turn not turned the music down?
I want my responses to align with my value for respect. (Be the respect I seek). Plus, doing as my friend suggests may escalate a simple situation. (And…I may or may not have pounded on a college dorm wall a time or three, and found it did not really help).
We may choose a variety of ways for extending and receiving requests. Approaching conversations from a positive framework helps. It means believing most humans want to help. It also presumes that folks prefer to not make life difficult for each other. I certainly do not want anyone making life more difficult for me. Nor do I wish to make life more difficult for anyone else.
With compassion and understanding, I see the noisy neighbors as folks simply wanting to enjoy their music. Are they thinking of me or anyone else? Perhaps, the thought of anyone else hearing the stereo never crosses their mind. Once they hear the impact they are having, my neighbors willingly turn down the volume.
Keeping the peace does not mean keeping your irritation to yourself. You may let folks know how they impact you while being respectful. Sometimes, to get what you want, you simply need to ask.
What do you say so you can live in peace? Are you keeping your sense of peace as you do so?