In a world of exclusivity and seclusion, finding good neighbors is as difficult as finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. And by good neighbors, we mean those who know where the boundary lines lay- both physical and otherwise.
On the other end of the secluded and exclusive spectrum are the overly friendly, curious beyond description and nosey neighbors. Dealing with them requires shrewdness and patience, as arguments and full blown fights only further stress our already stressful lives.
Be gentle yet firm
It is often said, that the way to discipline children is with firmness enveloped in gentleness. More often than not, nosey neighbors are not children, but, it works well to treat them with the same gentle firmness.
If you and your family are in the middle of something, and they force their way in, ask them, politely to come back at a later time, as you are busy at the moment. Most people will respond to that, however there still will be some who would not get the message. In that case, let gentleness take a backseat and firmness become the weapon.
Repeat yourself, in a firm manner and walk towards the door, asking them to come back at a later time.
Respect your own privacy
If you are doing something private or playing Scrabble with your family AND you have nosey neighbors, keep your doors shut and curtains drawn.
Do not encourage phone calls or visits from these neighbors at that time. If confronted later, calmly let them know that you were having a private/family time and didn’t want to be disturbed. Who knows, maybe it’ll encourage them to have some family time themselves. And yes, being assertive with nosey neighbors will lead to loss of goodwill from them, but that shouldn’t really matter.
Leave a sign
Like in hotels, make your own signs to leave on the door to tell your nosey neighbors that you are not in the mood to entertain them. These could be funny, sarcastic or factual. When they don’t have the opportunity to persuade you face to face, it’ll be easier for you to ensure that your privacy is respected.
Educate your family
In households with little children, it’s possible for nosey neighbors to cross that invisible line of decency and through them, gather personal information about the household. So, its important, that as an adult, if you are aware of such neighbors, you educate your children to not divulge such information to them.
This could be anything from what brand of cereal you buy to where you keep your money. Children should know that talking to strangers or to neighbors about certain personal things can be dangerous.
Some nosey neighbors may never enter your house, but be aware of your activities. Like the women shown in movies, they peer out of their windows, secretly watching and gathering information. If you have such a neighbor, and catch him or her doing that, wave to them with a smile. It will confound them to no end.
Of course, if you feel that they are crossing the line from being just nosey, to stalking, it might be time to call the authorities.
Some neighbors not only snoop but also act as the local gossip. If you are dealing with such a one, its best to confront.
If lies are being spread about you and your family by this neighbor, find a mutual friend/neighbor and go up to their house and ask them about it. When confronted, snoops and gossips will ALWAYS deny it, but, they will be scared to gossip about you or your family again.
Confrontation need not be dramatic. True, if this person has been ruining your life or causing you great pain, its not easy to be cool and controlled, but to show yourself as the bigger person, patience will work in your favor. Also, having someone with you, will help you keep remain balanced.
Try ‘Two Can Play the Game’
This should be the last resort. Sometimes, people need to be shown things from a different perspective. So, for a couple of painful (sometimes fun) days, become a nosey neighbor yourself. Repeat to them, the things they do to you. Through demonstration, show them, how frequent intrusions from neighbors can cause loss of time, irritation and annoyance.
This should be done with utmost caution and with compassion and as mentioned earlier, as the last resort.