On February 19, 1968, Fred Rogers first looked into the camera and uttered his immortal invitation: “Won’t you be my neighbor?” Our concept of what it means to be neighborly has evolved in the following 50 years, but as we huddle separately in our homes, the value of a good neighbor has never been more apparent. Some kind acts can blossom into lifelong friendships. Want to be a better neighbor? Try these six basic rules.
- Noise from 9 to 9
Nobody expects total silence from your apartment. Parents in particular can only dream of a quiet homelife nowadays. Children roughhousing, pets barking, the hum of power tools used in your long-neglected DIY projects—all these come together to form the soundscape of your home. Let’s face it: living life means making noise. However, you can limit when that soundscape occurs. Wait until 9 a.m. before rocking out to your favorite “clean the apartment” playlist. After 9 p.m., turn the volume down on that action movie. Keep your neighbors in mind and keep the noise down.
- Avoid Gossip
Respect is a two-way street. Your neighbors may be trying their best to keep it down, but if you overhear something not intended for you, forget it. Keep it private. No one wants to live in a community plagued by gossip and rumor.
- Make Your Introductions
Notice someone new moving in? Welcome them to the community! Though always appreciated, a housewarming gift isn’t needed or expected. Folks moving in aren’t always looking for a pineapple, plate of cookies, or a loaf of bread; what they need to know more than anything else is who the friendly faces are in their immediate vicinity.
- Take Responsibility for Your Pets
Puppies, cats, and birds are great icebreakers, and pets can often bring a community together. Just make sure your neighbors are united in admiration—not contempt—for your animal; no one wants to be the lady with the annoying yipping dog. Train your pets and make sure they behave well for your community’s sake.
- Approach Conflict with Caution
All of the rules thus far have been to remain mindful of your neighbors. No one wants to get dragged into a spat with the guy next door. Avoid conflict when possible, but if your neighbors aren’t behaving with courtesy and respect, be kind but assertive when discussing it directly with them. If the issue remains unresolved, seek out the correct process in responding and settling the issue.
That’s all there is to it! Simply follow these basic rules, and you’ll have the folks next door singing along:
Won’t you be mine?
Won’t you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?