Ways to approach your neighbour

The best way to resolve an issue with a neighbour—whatever it is about—is by talking directly to them face-to-face. Talking face-to-face is much better and far more effective than phone calls, emails, letters and messages.Before talking with the other person, think about what you want to say. It is important to state clearly what the problem is and how you feel about it.

The following tips can help.

Arranging a convenient time to meet

Choose a good time to approach the other person to arrange a convenient meeting time so neither of you is rushed. Do not bring up the issue when the other person is on their way to work, or trying to get their children off to school, or are about to cook dinner. They will not be in the right frame of mind to talk if they are under stress or time constraints.

Choose a time which is right for you too; do not approach them after you have had a bad day or when you are in a hurry to go somewhere. This will just add to the tension.

Find a place where you can both sit comfortably and quietly for long enough to properly discuss the issue without interruptions.

Explain that the problem has been worrying you and you would like to sort it out.

Meeting with your neighbour

Explain the problem

A good way to start is to explain the problem from your point of view. Try to stay calm and avoid laying blame and name-calling.

For example, say, 'When your tree branches hang over my roof, my gutters block up and overflow in heavy rain', rather than, 'You haven't bothered to lop your trees so my gutters are overflowing when it rains'.

Try not to interpret the other person’s behaviour.

For example, don't say, 'You're blocking my driveway on purpose just to make me angry'. Instead try saying, 'When your car blocks my driveway, I get annoyed because it’s difficult to get in and out'.

Let your neighbour tell their side of the story

Give your neighbour a chance to give their views. Be prepared to relax, listen and take everything in.

Do not interrupt when your neighbour is talking.

Show that you are listening by maintaining eye contact, and acknowledging what they are saying with 'mmm's’ and by nodding your head.

You might not agree with what they say, but there is nothing more frustrating than talking to someone who does not seem to be listening.

Resolving the conflict

Try working on the dispute together and work out what you both need to do to resolve the issue. Two or more people working on a problem together can get further than one person telling the other to change.

Since you are taking the time to work on a problem, take the time to get a solution that is acceptable to both of you.

Get the whole problem out in the open.

Do not leave out anything that seems less important or is the hardest to talk about. Those are the things that will ruin any solution you come up with.

If you can come to an agreement by talking together, that's great!

It is a good idea to write down the details of what you have agreed to and each of you should keep a copy.

Meet again in the future

Agree to check with each other at a specific time in the future to see how things are going—and do not forget to do this catch up meeting.

If you can not reach an agreement

If you can not come to an agreement, do not worry. Discussing the problem may have helped you both better understand each other's point of view. Our Dispute Resolution Centres provide a free, confidential and impartial mediation service throughout Queensland. Our trained mediators can guide the discussion and help you reach a solution.

Find out more about neighbourhood mediation.

More information

Read more about mediation