Most people will agree that their ideal neighborhood is filled with pleasant faces and neighbors they can count on in a pinch, whether it’s watering your garden while you’re gone or keeping an eye out for a package while they’re at work.
However, as with all friendships, getting to know your neighbors requires time and effort, albeit possibly less than you might anticipate.
In 2020, Settlement Services International interviewed 334 refugees with permanent residency in Australia for a report. The majority of interviewees indicated high levels of confidence in their neighbors, despite language limitations making communication difficult. Instead of lengthy conversations over the backyard fence, this trust was established by basic everyday interactions, demonstrating the power of a grin or a short hello in passing.
There are concrete advantages to knowing your neighbors. Researchers at the Australian National University discovered in a longitudinal study published earlier this year that persons with favorable social impressions of their neighborhoods were less likely to experience sadness, anxiety, and loneliness during the pandemic.
Nick Tebbey, national executive officer of Relationships Australia, the non-profit organization behind Neighbour Day, believes that spring is the ideal time to start getting to know your neighbors, even if it’s only with a wave at first. When the weather warms up, we all spend more time outside — the kids are playing outside, and you’re in the garden or out for an evening stroll.
It makes it obvious that the greatest approach to getting to know your neighbors is to make sure they know who they are. And the simplest way to accomplish this is through brief, repetitive interactions. “There are always opportunities to interact, and they can be as simple as a nod, a wave, or a kind hello when you’re taking out the trash,” adds Tebbey.
To position yourself in the path of these opportunities, Tebbey proposes scheduling your excursions “when other people are also out and about.”
Tebbey emphasizes that when it comes to introducing oneself to your neighbors, it’s crucial to do what feels comfortable, whether that’s posting in a neighborhood Facebook group or conversing with someone while waiting for the elevator. You are more likely to commit to these early introductions the less anxious you feel about them.
Once you’ve introduced yourself to a neighbor and the discussion has begun to flow, it’s crucial to ask questions and – most importantly – to recall the responses.
Tebbey explains, “I don’t mean to be a nosy neighbor, but I am curious about what others are doing.” “If they have a garden, ask them what they’re planting; take an interest in what others share.” And if someone tells you their dog’s name or where they’re going on vacation, make an effort to remember it (even if it means writing it down at home) so you can continue the conversation the next time you cross paths.
“It’s not about huge gestures or telling your neighbors everything about yourself. It’s nearly the opposite,” adds Tebbey. It consists of tiny but significant encounters and genuine interest in one another’s life, but without expectation.
Find a compromise
“It’s remarkable how quickly you’ll find people who share your interests if you focus on your hobbies,” adds Tebbey. You instantly form a bond.
Holly Scott, 32, lived close to the Bourke Street Community Garden in Woolloomooloo, Sydney for over a year before her visit. According to Scott, who has now relocated closer to the garden, she was attracted by the composting method.
“I initially joined the garden because I wanted an alternative to the red bin, where my kitchen trash ends up in a landfill,” she explains. “However, once I got started, I loved the other components of the garden so much that I became involved – although I still find composting to be rewarding.”
Scott is currently the treasurer and a member of the planning committee for the garden. The garden has introduced her to other neighbors in the area. It is nearly impossible for me to go to Saturday morning markets or walk my dog, Basil, without running into someone from the garden.
The minute details
In 2013, when Daniel and Luke Mancuso’s father murdered their mother, it was their neighbor who initially alerted their aunt, who also lived close by. During a moment of sadness, the neighbor, whom they affectionately refer to as Yiayia (Greek for grandmother), provided comfort by passing meals over the fence.
Since the publication of their book Yiayia Next Door, the brothers have endeavored to emphasize the significance of caring for your neighbors in even the smallest of ways.
“It need not involve a great deal of work. “It can be as easy as bringing your neighbor’s trash cans closer to their house or exchanging wine bottles,” Daniel explains. We would not have had closure or hope if it weren’t for our neighbor’s kindness during a time when we did not view the world as friendly.
It is easy to develop meaningful connections with the people around you with a little intention and care. And as the temperature rises and the days become longer, there is no better time to begin than now.