Many of us are blessed with friendly neighbours, whom we share food or organise group buys with. Occasionally, we may encounter some differences with our neighbours, especially when we are staying at home more often these days.
A common experience is noise disturbances coming from our neighbours, due to renovation works or even daily activities such as practising of music instruments.
Not sure how to handle such a situation? Here are a few tips that could come in handy to help you maintain good relations with your neighbours around you.
1. Start Early
By establishing an amiable relationship with your neighbours early on, it will be easier for you to share any feedback.
“I had a neighbour who did not get along easily with pretty much everyone in my block — except with me,” says Catherine, a long-time HDB resident in Hougang. “I’m big on baking, so I always share my extra baked goods with my neighbours, and I think that helped me stay in his good books!”
Planning to carry out any renovation or DIY works? Notify your neighbours in advance! Your neighbours will appreciate the heads-up, and it would help them make alternative arrangements in anticipation of renovation-related noises.
This also increases the chances that they would reciprocate the gesture in future, including reducing the noise levels on their end if they plan any renovation works.
2. Establish a Mutual Understanding
Hear your neighbours out to understand the reason behind the noise level – for instance, your neighbour might be genuinely unaware that they have caused some disturbance. After listening to them, share your concerns before working out a solution together. Not only will this help build mutual understanding between both parties, it will also prevent potential conflicts.
3. Maintain Composure
To avoid conflict escalations, try to maintain your composure when ironing out the issues with your neighbour. Keeping conversations polite and rational is more effective compared to emotionally-charged ones.
4. Seek Help
If you are not having any luck resolving the noise issue with your neighbour one-on-one, consider approaching your grassroots leader for help.
It often helps to have a neutral third-party involved to provide an unbiased opinion during a challenging situation. You may contact your grassroots leader through your nearest Community Club (CC).
5. Opt for Mediation
Alternatively, you can opt for mediation at the Community Mediation Centre (CMC).
During the session, a trained professional will be present to facilitate the conversation between you and your neighbour. Rather than providing solutions or forcing ultimatums, the mediator will try to lead the conversation towards a mutually acceptable agreement and solution between both parties.
As mediation sessions at the CMC are voluntary, both parties have to agree to attend. The CMC does not have the power to compel you or your neighbour to come to the table, or to abide by the solutions discussed and agreed upon during the session.
If you choose to go for mediation, you will need to pay a one-time administrative fee of $5, regardless of the number of mediation sessions you will attend. Your neighbour would not need to pay for the fee.
Like other informal avenues of resolution, community mediation can be a good option to hold an open conversation with your neighbour.
For more ideas on connecting with your neighbours, check out this guide on building community bonds within your HDB neighbourhood.