Connecting with neighbors and creating a cohesive, friendly community is a way to truly feel like you’re home, and to be safer in it. Here are 6 ways to do it.
Neighbors are one of the things in life you can’t choose. But what you can choose are ways you can build your community spirit and positive culture. There are a few simple things you can do to get this process in motion whether you’ve just moved into a new neighborhood, or you’re looking to open the possibilities of friendship, connection, cohesion, and safety in a neighborhood you’ve called home for a while.
Here are six of them to consider.
1. Create a culture of simple kindness
Kindness counts. No matter who the recipients of an act of kindness are, everybody wins when kindness is a standard to live by. Some ways to exercise kindness is to offer help on simple household tasks. If it snows, offer to help shovel their sidewalk. If you see them walking in with an armful of groceries, grab a bag and walk it to the door. Keep your eyes open for opportunities to be kind, and let that be a reward on its own. knowing that you’re building a way of life centered around kindness in your building or on your street.
These simple acts help cultivate a positive relationship with your neighbors. Even if that warm fuzzy of helping someone is enough of a return for you, they’ll be more apt to help you in return in the future, too. This helps to promote that culture of kindness, of helpfulness, in your neighborhood. This also creates all kinds of benefits for everyone, including a more secure place to live as well as a more cohesive neighborhood where you are more likely to feel is really your home.
2. Allow the possibility of friendship
Another way to help your neighbor relationship is by being friendly, of course. You probably have this one covered. But, there’s more that you can add to a smile and greeting. Opening yourself up to friendship means allowing yourself the chance to make a friend of someone who lives under the same pressures, and probably enjoy some of the same pleasures as you do. It’s an exercise in empathy. But, it also has to do with a sense of curiosity too.
Remember how easy it was to make friends as a child? “Wanna play?” “Yeah!” It’s tough to replicate as an adult. But, being open to conversations with your neighbors, and allowing yourself to give away your thoughts on things with them, however casually, is a great way to re-connect to how things used to be on the playground when you were a child. You never know what life-changing moments for the better could happen when it comes to making new friends.
3. Extend invitations
By no means does this have to entail an invitation to a private party, but extending an invitation to other events is a wonderful gesture. If you’re having a yard sale, ask if they’d like to sell some of their stuff at your house. Invite them to the best seats in the house for the big game, the big season finale, or for other televised events. Challenge them to a game of cards, charades, pictionary, anything.
Additionally, invite them to stop by if you’re having a barbecue, or to show them an improvement you’ve made to your property to inspire them to do the same. They’ll appreciate your friendliness and more likely extend the same courtesy to you. Give your neighbor a chance to allow for that possibility of friendship we talked about earlier. Having communal good times is how strong bonds are formed.
4. Know your neighbors’ habits
You don’t have to be a nosy neighbor about it, but knowing your neighbors’ daily routines helps them out, especially in the case of an emergency. If you see mail piling up and their car is outside, it might signal that something is wrong. Sometimes simply being observant can affect a positive outcome.
Again, this isn’t about being nosy or intrusive. Knowing the patterns of a neighborhood in general allows you the chance to be helpful, if needed. And it helps to keep your street a safer place, too.
5. Be considerate
This idea is also something you’ve probably got covered as far as the basics go. But, it can connect to the idea of knowing the patterns of your neighborhood, too. Even if you live in the same building or on the same street, your life and their lives may reflect different needs.
If you live in an apartment or in close proximity otherwise, consider when your neighbor goes to work in the morning or when they go to bed at night. Night shift workers value quiet during daylight hours for sleeping, for instance. Even if you want to throw a late night party or watch the big game, being considerate of their schedule is indicative of being a good neighbor. If that’s the case, make other plans or move the party to a different venue after a certain time. Or consider number three on this list and invite them!
6. Remember your parking etiquette
If you have assigned parking spots or even street parking, practice good parking etiquette. Don’t block or take their spot, even if it’s only for a short time. For street parking, become aware of where they usually park. Although it isn’t assigned, it’s nice to leave them their usual space, if you can.
This is another advantage of knowing your neighbors’ habits and the patterns of your neighborhood. And it is certainly an extension of your mandate to be empathetic and considerate.
Benefits of a cohesive, friendly neighborhood
People to whom you are kind, considerate, and open will remember you. For the most part, they will be on your side, even when you’re away and your home is empty. This has all kinds of implications when it comes to feeling safe in your neighborhood. When you know, trust, and even like your neighbors, that adds a layer of security to all of your lives.
Not all neighbors are one extreme or the other like in television shows, but rather people living their lives just the same as you. Close-knit communities are the fabric of our society, so why not start with just a smile and a wave and go from there? Even the smallest acts go a long way towards making a great relationship and letting them know you care.