…especially if your neighbours are livin’ it up at all hours, imposing their lifestyle choices on everyone else through open doors and windows.

If you feel you’ve suffered in silence long enough but don’t want to raise the temperature further with a blazing row, here’s something you could try. It’s a conversation model we encourage to good effect in mediation. Yes, it means having a not-entirely-comfortable chat with your neighbour, but as the old adage goes: ‘Don’t ask, don’t get’.

Following these steps should help to keep the conversation constructive:

  1. Choose your moment: best not hammer on your neighbour’s door when you are fuming, either of you are under the influence of alcohol, or you have an audience! Aim for a calm, amicable, private conversation. Introduce yourself if necessary and check that it’s a good time for them too.
  2. Address the problem: don’t attack the person. Describe what you’ve experienced, starting your observations with “I…” rather than “You…”, be specific and don’t exaggerate. This will help them take on board what you are saying rather than switching into defensive mode. It’s harder to take issue with “For the past two nights I’ve been kept awake by the music from your garden until 1.00am” than with “You are utterly inconsiderate - your deafening parties are ruining everyone’s lives.”
  3. Describe the impact on you, eg. “I was awake until the early hours and was exhausted the following day.”
  4. Say what you need, eg “I need a decent night’s sleep, so I can get up at 6.00 and concentrate at work.”
  5. Make a request (not a demand) that will help to improve things, eg: “Next time you have people over would you be able to move indoors after X.00pm to minimise the noise?”. If you get a refusal, ask what they can do to help. If you get a good response, acknowledge it with a thank you.

Obviously, don’t put yourself at risk if you feel your neighbour is incapable of a calm conversation, but time and again we hear in mediation that clients on the receiving end of complaints have not appreciated the impact of their behaviour on others and regret upsetting them. So, let’s be generous and assume that in the UK we are so unaccustomed to this prolonged sultry weather we sometimes need a gentle reminder about how to live with it.

Tracey Adamson, Mediator - Concord Conflict Solutions