Years ago, a roommate and I returned to our apartment to find our upstairs neighbor (who we had not yet met) asleep on our couch. Perhaps he felt tired of climbing stairs and our floor seemed an appropriate place to stop, or maybe he found our furniture more comfortable. We startled him when we walked in, and he quickly apologized and scurried away. No need for more of a conversation.
Two young men with a rather impressive stereo later rented the place next door to me. Their love of music filtered into my townhome regularly. With my dining room wall trembling, I decided it was a good time to meet my neighbors. I complimented them on their choice in stereos, particularly the exceptional bass, explained I was hosting guests who would be there soon, and asked if they could reduce the volume for the evening. They graciously kept their stereo at a lower volume for that night, and for the rest of our time as neighbors. Someone pointed out that I could have blasted my stereo to send them a message; however, what if they thought I was just enjoying my stereo or trying to annoy them? This strategy would not have clearly conveyed what I really wanted – to enjoy more peace and quiet on my side.
Not all neighborhood issues may be resolved as quickly and amicably. People build structures that impede a neighbor’s view, drive or hunt on land without acknowledging property boundaries, or engage in other behavior that fails to respect each neighbor’s needs. Ideally, neighbors talk early on and build a relationship that allows space to address any concerns. However, neighbors sometimes need help engaging in constructive conversation.
Mediation supports these important conversations by providing a safe space where you may speak your truth, be heard, and create ideas for resolution.