Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Disturbing Neighbor

When I moved into my home 13 years ago, I was thrilled to be living on a dead end street. Ah, peace and quiet! Imagine how disheartened I was to discover I lived two houses away from a teenage rock star wannabe!

Every evening, his band would rehearse in his garage for hours. The cacophony of noise that emanated from his makeshift studio was nothing short of unmerciful.

His garage faced my bedroom window (which I left opened) so the noise filtered into my room long after I retired for the evening. This was not working for me. Yet I knew that legally he had every right to practice and I had no recourse. Or did I? I decided to take matters into my own hands and confront him. However, I am wise enough to know the proper steps to take to gain his cooperation.

First, I checked my attitude. I needed to make sure that I was calm and relaxed. If I was angry and frustrated, that would be reflected in the way I spoke to him.
Next, I needed to see things through his eyes: a young man with dreams of being a rock star. That's actually an admirable quality. He could have been on some street corner doing drugs.
Third, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he didn't realize the noise was a problem for me. After all, how many times are we oblivious to how our behavior effects others?

I also knew it was important to establish a commonality, some interest or characteristic we shared. That acts like a bonding agent.
And I needed to be fair and reasonable in what I was requesting of him.

So, I took the necessary steps and approached him one evening. I introduced myself and asked about his music. He shared how he and his band were trying to get some gigs and ultimately a record deal. I congratulated him on his dreams and wished him luck. I mentioned my love of music as well. We had established a nice rapport.

Then I made my request: I explained how the noise interfered with my ability to sleep when it went beyond 11pm. I asked if he could help me out by perhaps closing the garage doors. To my pleasant surprise, he apologized and agreed to my suggestion. I thanked him and we parted on good terms. Problem solved.

When we treat one another with dignity and fairness, resolving our differences becomes effortless.

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