Conflicts - And How to Resolve Them
By Natalia Sieukaran / January 1, 2013

Whether you live in a huge condo complex with a homeowners' association making the rules or a suburban neighborhood with expansive front and back lawns, it is sometimes difficult to reside in proximity to other people. Conflicts abound over matters big and small. You can argue about loud music, barking dogs, annoying yard equipment (loudly in use or left looking unsightly in the driveway), religious symbols on front doors, boundaries, trees, and fences.

Our region seems to be rife with neighbors who cannot get along. According to CBS News TV in Miami, a stabbing with fatal results occurred in Miami at 9:30 a.m. on December 24, 2011. Phillip Arthur, 24, approached his neighbor, Dorian Hinkson, 51, about Hinkson's loud music. The latter became enraged, got a knife, and stabbed Arthur once in the chest in front of his wife and children in the apartment complex.

Last October, the Miami Herald reported a dog attack prompted by a neighborly dispute. A man, who wanted to remain anonymous, walked down the street to obtain money he was owed for fixing a car. The owner saw the man and let loose a female pit bull named Rain. Several attacks by the dog upon the man resulted in his stabbing of the animal several times. "I would hope that I didn't kill a dog because it's not the dog's fault," the unnamed man said.
The good news is that the pit bull received oxygen and was expected to live. The police said the dog was probably not going to be returned to the owner.

Violence isn't the answer. Maybe seeking legal action is the solution. Suing a neighbor is more common here than in other countries. But it is important to try to handle things civilly before calling an attorney.

So, no matter what the issue, Dr. Brett Negin, M.D. of Coral Springs Pediatric & Adult Psychiatry, Inc. states, "The best way would be to first express your concerns in the most non-confrontational way as possible."

He explains that, from a psychiatric point of view, issues arise when there is a lack of communication. When communicating your concerns, explaining why you feel the way you do is another non-threatening path to take when approaching your neighbors. It also makes it appear that you're not blaming them.

Some problems are harder to solve than others. A gossiping neighbor spreading vicious rumors may be more difficult to have a reasonable discussion with than a neighbor whose black olive tree branches are shedding leaves into your swimming pool. Yet, it's worth a try to have a polite talk about the issue.

But, like most scenarios, prevention is often better that curing, or in this case, resolving. Dr. Negrin suggests, "The best thing would be to have an amicable relationship with your neighbors in the first place."

You don't have to be buddies. But, at least, having a cordial relationship will make things smooth because you share a sense of familiarity with you both.

In case none of the above has worked, and your issues still have not been resolved, divorce lawyer Laura Schantz, Esq. of Schantz & Schantz law firm in Coral Springs and Weston, states that talking it out is always better. But when no resolution appears possible, she says, "You're better off getting a commercial engagement lawyer."

No matter how heated a situation becomes, you must always keep in mind that being vocal, in a polite, civil way, is the key to getting that peace of mind that you want. It's usually silence that will cause you the most stress in the end and it shouldn't be that way. Whether you own or rent your residence, everyone is entitled to a quiet, peaceful enjoyment of his or her home.

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