Disputes among neighbors are a part of life, and most don’t reach past the point of a minor annoyance. You take a deep breath and endure it because in most cases it’s just a quirk or question of personal opinion. Bullying, on the other hand, is a serious issue. If things escalate to the point where you feel intimidated or would rather walk the other way than risk seeing your neighbor, it might be time to do something about it.
Identify the cause. Although your neighbor has no right to bully you, he might feel justified because of a current issue or conflict between you. If you can figure out the problem, you can work toward a solution and maybe stop the bullying.
Have a talk. Outline the problem, and ask questions if you’re not sure what’s causing the conflict. Be specific about what’s bothering you, and ask if there’s anything that he wants to say or ask. Be calm but firm. Point out that you don’t want the situation to continue and would like to find a solution.
Try to reach an agreement. If he’s bullying you for no reason, don’t budge and agree to something you think is unfair or threatening. Try to understand your neighbor’s position and offer an alternative if his requests seem unreasonable. Try to reach a middle ground that will solve the problem.
Put it in writing. According to Consumer Reports, if the friendly chat fails, you can write a formal letter that details the problem and why it can’t be tolerated. If your neighbor is breaking any city law or ordinance, tell him why this is not acceptable. Gather signatures from other neighbors if the issue is something that affects them as well.
Try the Association for Community Mediation to find a neutral third party to help you communicate. Mediators work for free or for a very small fee. Mediators are not lawyers, so they won’t be able to deal with regulations and legal issues. They will help you open lines of communication and try to find a solution that doesn’t involve the authorities.
Call the police or contact the court system only as a last resort or if the bullying is out of control or you feel like you’re in danger. If you take the case to a court, you might be directed to mediation, according to Consumer Reports. But at this point your neighbor might feel a lot more resentful toward you and less open to finding a solution. Small-claims court can help only if there’s money or broken property involved, but it’s unlikely to solve the conflict.
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.