Let’s face it, most of us are guilty of being standoffish neighbours from time to time. But getting to know your neighbours can offer more than just a person to feed your cat when you go on holidays. It’s an opportunity to form a real human connection that can significantly improve your mental and emotional wellbeing. So where do you begin? Here are a few ways that you can start to form connections and become a better neighbour.
1. Open yourself to connection
Sometimes the last thing that any of us want to do after a long day at work is talk to someone that we don’t have to. But here’s a challenge for you: the next time you’re headed out to your car or taking the dog for an evening walk, leave the earphones at home, keep your eyes up and be willing to interact with the people you see. You’d be surprised how easy it is to strike up a conversation if others can see that you’re receptive to interaction.
2. When life gives you lemons, take some next-door
Sharing resources is a great way to break the ice with neighbours, and can often bring fruitful returns. If you have a fruit-bearing tree or vegetable garden, it’s a great idea to offer some of your overflows to neighbours. The gesture will never go unappreciated and if you’re lucky, they might have some fruit or veggies to share as well!
This one might seem obvious, but the power of a smile cannot be understated. Making a conscious effort to offer a smile to those you pass on the street will make you appear far more approachable and friendly, and will likely result in more of your neighbours feeling comfortable enough to introduce themselves.
4. Organise a social event
Consider inviting your neighbours to a casual gathering at your home or a nearby park. This might seem daunting, but you’d be surprised how many of your neighbours have considered doing the same thing yet haven’t been brave enough to make the first move. Ask everyone to bring a plate to share, keep it casual, and don’t be discouraged by a small turnout. Connecting with just one neighbour can make a world of difference in both your lives.
5. Ask for and offer help
Most of us struggle to ask for – or offer – help when it’s needed. Helping others makes us feel needed and accomplished, and it’s a great way to create connection. If you’re struggling to move a piece of furniture, ask your neighbour if they’d mind lending a hand. And if you find out your neighbour is leaving town, offer to collect their mail or water their plants. Both parties benefit from an extra pair of hands, and you’ll have plenty of time to get to know each other while you work.