1. People & Relationships

Becoming Friends With Your Neighbors

How to Develop Friendships With People Who Live Near You

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neighbors.jpg

Your neighbors can become good friends to you.

Image: Ayla87 / sxc.hu

When you're trying to find new pals, look no further than your own backyard. After all, you live by them, you see them pretty much every day, and you share a love of your city and state. Why not become friends with your neighbors? 

Look for Opportunities to Say Hello

You can't meet your neighbors if you're always inside your house. Spend a little time outside just watching things that happen in your neighborhood. When you become more familiar with the routines of your neighbors, walk over and introduce yourself. A good rule of thumb is to keep it short in the beginning. Tell your neighbor you just wanted to introduce yourself. Ask them questions like:

  • How long have you lived here?
  • Can I help you with anything?
  • Any questions I can answer about the neighborhood?

End your introduction with an offer for a future dinner or coffee break.

Offer Assistance and Information

When we first moved into our house, we needed to cut down one of our trees. An older neighbor saw us doing this and came over to tell us a little bit about the tree and the people that lived in our house before. Turns out he was there when it was first planted, so he knew the previous neighbors. By telling us a little bit more about our house, he showed us he was an invaluable part of our neighborhood, and someone we were wise to befriend. Now, when we have a question about something, we go to him first.

If you initiate a conversation and show that you're willing to help, your neighbors will be more apt to look to you when they have questions, or when they want someone to talk to. Sometimes the hardest thing about making new friends is the very first step. It's a risk to put yourself out there, because no one likes to be ignored or rejected. So if you show that you're friendly and open to conversation, your neighbor will be encouraged to get to know you.

Don't Be Annoying

Be cognizant of what it's like to live by you. In other words, pay attention to the things you do that could bother one of the neighbors. These might include:

  • Letting your dog or cat wander around other people's yards.
  • Playing music loudly.
  • Having noisy parties.
  • Walking around in your yard without proper clothing on.
  • Not keeping up your yard or house.
  • Letting your children run around other people's yards.

If your neighbor finds you annoying to be around, he won't want to get to know you better.

Invite Your Neighbor Out

While the obvious solution toward meeting your neighbor might be to invite them to dinner at your place, sometimes it's more comfortable for everyone to meet out the first time. This gives you something else to talk about during your first visit hanging out together and prevents the relationship from becoming "too familiar" too fast.

You also don't have to make your plans overly elaborate. Sometimes too much formality can prevent a true bond from being formed. If dinner or coffee won't work, see if they want to pop over to the local farmer's market or community festival. Make your first couple of meetings short, so you can get to know each other in small doses. Every friendship needs to progress at its own pace, so rather than a home invite, choose a casual, comfortable place close to each of your houses.

Find Ways to Be Kind

Bringing over baked goods or a pot roast to your neighbor might sound like an old-fashioned cliché, but the gesture behind the gift is a good goal when it comes to friending your neighbors. Look for small ways you can be kind to them, and a friendship will eventually develop. Some ideas include:

  • Dropping off flowers for a birthday or special event.
  • Letting your neighbor know about a special sale at a local store.
  • Bringing over baked goods.
  • Giving them a book they might like to read. (Be careful with this. Don't give them something you want them to learn from - like a book about religion or politics. Give them something they truly would like to read.)
  • Giving a small gift basket.
  • Movie tickets.
  • Some seed packets or small plants to start a garden.

Choose the gift wisely, and always opt for something small. Too large or expensive a gift and your neighbor might feel pressured to do something for you in return. The idea is to do something thoughtful, not make your neighbor feel obligated to return the gesture.

Want more ideas? Sign up for my free ecourse, 101 Ways to Have More Friends.

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