How to be a good neighbour

 by Todd Carey

We all want good neighbours, but it’s hard to know how to be the kind of neighbour our neighbours want.
What makes a good neighbour? How can we become better ones?

How to Be a Good Neighbor

What does it mean to be a “good neighbour”? A major insurance company has a slogan that begins with these words: “Like a good neighbour.” The message the company wants to convey is that you can count on it in times of need, just as you can count on a good neighbour.

Being neighbourly

Many people today, particularly those who have grown up with Facebook and Twitter, have amassed relationships with people around the globe. But at the end of the day, how many are real friends? Friends and friendship mean different things to different people. So it is with being a good neighbour. Being neighbourly means different things to different people as well.

In an article titled “Being Neighbourly Without Being Nosy,” Rose Alexander explained it this way: “Depending on your personal preferences, being neighbourly might mean staying invisible except for a quick wave while getting the mail. Or you might think of someone being a good neighbour when he or she is available to help out with any unexpected need, whether it is to lend an egg or give your child a ride to soccer practice when your car won’t start.”  

What kind of neighbour do you want to be? If you’re going to be a good neighbour, what does that entail?  We might begin by examining our own personalities. Are we reserved or outgoing? Are we shy or bombastic? That will play a part in what kind of neighbour we are. But the next thing to remember is that not everyone in our neighbourhood will be like us, which means it is important to get to know the people in our neighbourhoods. 

This can start even before we move to a new neighbourhood. We can seek whatever information we can find about the new neighbourhood. If we have children at home, we’ll probably check into the schools they would attend. Not only does all this help us get to know the neighbourhood, but it may also reveal some common interests with those who already live there.  Learning about and getting to know our neighbours can help us become better neighbours.

But first, let’s define who our neighbours are. What about people who live outside our neighbourhood? Do we have a responsibility to be neighbourly to those who live on other streets or in other towns or cities?  If we want to be good neighbours, we must seek a comfortable balance with our neighbours, as much as is reasonable and safe. Part of the balance is learning about some of the traditions of our neighbourhoods or regions. 

In some parts of the world it is customary to bring a specially prepared meal for people moving in or when someone has lost a loved one. Opportunities such as these help sow the seeds of conversation that can develop into mutual respect, admiration and even friendship.

Becoming a good neighbour during good times is often simpler than during a crisis or natural disaster. If and when a crisis does arise, requesting help or providing help will be so much easier because of the relationships that have been forged. When we’re not really sure how to interact with our neighbours, we can just turn the situation around. When it comes to giving any good gift, most religions have this rule when it comes to dealing with neighbours.

A good neighbour is one who is there for his or her neighbours.  A good neighbour is one who helps and serves in good times and bad.  Even someone without any religious belief can be a good neighbour.  Safety includes looking out for the well-being of those who are around us while being respectful of their personal privacy and the property.  It may start with something as simple as sharing some sugar with a neighbour, yet a small kindness can lead to so much more.

Even if those around us don’t understand or value being good neighbours, we certainly can set a good example to our family members and those around us.  What better way can there be than being part of our Residents’ Association?


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