Dealing with a Neighbor Who Complains About Everything

I swear, if I had to choose between the two, I’d rather have a nosy neighbor than one who complained about everything all the friggin’ time. A complaining neighbor is a difficult neighbor to have since they are rarely pacified and they feel like all their complaints are justified (few actually are). I love dealing with a neighbor who complains about everything about as much as I love dealing with an absessed tooth, but it is what it is and can be handled. Lots of patience and reasoning required, but it can be done.

Face it, unless you move or your complaining nieghbor moves, you are going to be stuck dealing with them indefinitely. This means you need to politely play mediator between your neighbor’s complaint and your own reasoning defense. Not always is a complaint from your neighbor a stupid one, but usually it’s just frustration on their part that can be easily dissolved.

My neighbor used to come complaining to me anytime she heard my dog whine to be let in the house, and I finally politely told her that her own children screaming and hollering in her yard until dark playing around created more noise than my own dog did during the day. I also let her know that her children’s noise did not bother me because it is normal neighborhood sound, just like my dog’s occasional barking and whining is.

When you (politely) counteract your neighbor’s complaint by showing them that they basically do the same thing you do, then they will likely stop their complaining, and actually reason with you. Since I let my neighbor know that she doesn’t have a silent household either, we have become polite acquaintances now.

My mother’s neighbor complains about my mother’s leaves being blown into her yard. This is a common neighborhood complaint among many neighbors in many areas (along with complaints about keeping a clean yard or keeping pets out of a neighbor’s yard). These are legitimate complaints, but also somewhat accusational since most people don’t encourage their dogs to poo in the neighbor’s yard or tell the wind which way to blow.

In other words, complaints from neighbors involving activities out of your own control can be a difficult argument to solve. My mother deals with her neighbor by using humor before offering a doable solution to keep her steaming neighbor at bay. She says, “Wow, Mother Nature must have it in for you. Don’t worry though, I’ll send my son over to give you an upper hand.” How can you profusely apologize for the leaves being blown in your neighbor’s yard? You can’t, because you cannot control where the leaves go. You can, however, offer to clean them up yourself and try to keep from being accusational yourself.

As a pet owner, however, I must say that if you catch your dog pooping in your neighbor’s yard (hey, it happens, my dog loves to stake her claim anywhere she can), don’t wait for your neighbor to freak out before you clean it up. Walk over and clean up your dog’s mess. You wouldn’t let your child leave their bike in your neighbor’s yard, would you?

Sometimes, neighbors just complain because they have nothing better to do. The best way to deal with this kind of neighbor is to invite them in for coffee. Really. My mother and her neighbor have become odd friends, simply because my mother saw how much her neighbor was really just seeking human companionship. They often gather on my mother’s deck, chatting away over coffee and complaining jointly about various topics. Sure, Mom does this to pacify her neighbor, but it’s a win-win. My mom can live peaceably with her neighbor without being nagged all the time.

Complaining neighbors can be dealt with, but it does require patience and a cool head. More often than not, your neighbor will actually believe that their complaint is real, so you need to treat it like it’s real. My dog-hating neighbor apologized for her complaining later, explaining that the only reason she complained at all is that she used to have a neighbor that let their dog bark all day and was worried I would do the same. People often don’t complain without reason. Hear your neighbor out, offer a solution (or rebute them politely) and perhaps befriend them. You’ll be a lot happier that way.

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