The Jerry Macguire Approach



Dear Dharma,

How does one deal with troublesome neighbours? I understand that living in the suburbs comes with living side by side with other people. However, my neighbours are rude, loud, obnoxious, and unreasonable.

Their back yard is such a disaster, I hate going out to relax on my deck. Seeing that mess is not relaxing…

There are a lot of kids and they come and go. Some days we see the same kids in a row, then the next day they are gone and new kids show up. The older boys enjoy sitting in the garage with music blaring. The kids rollerblade and skateboard on the road and are not shy about flipping off the cars that have to pause for them – they expect us to get out of their way! The garbage spills out onto their lawn and blows over to ours.

Yes, I have had a calm and neighbourly discussion about the noise and trash with them and no, nothing has changed.

I don’t want to move. How do I handle this?


Trying to be a Good Neighbor

Dear Good Neighbor,

Gah, you took away my first suggestion, which was to have a calm and neighbourly discussion about the noise and trash.  Curses…

I still have a few things left in my bag of goodies, but when you are dealing with unreasonable people, there often isn’t a ton of wiggle room for positive results.

One option is to try another conversation with them that’s a bit more on the assertive side.  Something like, “We’ve tried talking to you about the garbage and the noise and haven’t really gotten anywhere.  What can we do to help improve this situation, because we all have to live in this community…”

It’s the Jerry Macguire “Help me help you” approach, and it shows that you’re open to contributing towards a solution and not just telling them how much they suck.  Even though they do.  They suck big time.

If that still doesn’t get you anywhere, then it becomes a matter of perspective.  As in, trying to adjust the way you look at things – cuz we all know we can’t change anyone else’s behavior other than our own (which, too, sucks).  Because you say you don’t want to move, so in absence of that as a third solution, what else are you left with?

You resign yourself to picking up the trash that blows onto your lawn, even though you shouldn’t have to… Re-angle your deck so that you’re not looking into their yard, even though you shouldn’t have to.  You create some enjoyable white noise to block out their crappy music, even though you shouldn’t have to.

But in doing these things, you gain back some control.  It allows you to stop feeling like the victim.  When you’re the victim, you mostly feel angry and helpless – and at no cost to the rude neighbours, since they couldn’t care less!

Sorry there’s no magic wand for this one, but give these things a whirl and see if anything comes of it…



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  • Susan says:

    You could also put in a complain to your city as there is almost always a bylaw for “Untidy or unsightly nuisance property”. The city will send a bylaw officer to investigate be issued an order to fix the mess.